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September 30, 1974

Green-Tobacco Sickness: An Illness of Tobacco Harvesters

Author Affiliations

From the pesticides program, Division of Health Services, North Carolina Department of Human Resources, Raleigh.

JAMA. 1974;229(14):1880-1883. doi:10.1001/jama.1974.03230520022024

Tobacco-associated occupational illness occurs regularly in North Carolina tobacco fields. Green-tobacco sickness is a self-limited illness characterized by pallor, vomiting, and prostration. It occurs principally in young men who handle uncured tobacco leaves in the fields. A survey among 53 harvesters who had had green-tobacco sickness and 49 control harvesters was undertaken to define and quantify the symptom complex. The illness was correlated with cropping (picking) the tobacco while it was wet; the absorption of nicotine from the tobacco leaf is the probable cause. Cigarette smoking affords protection against the illness.

(JAMA 229:1880-1883, 1974)