Green Tobacco Sickness

Green tobacco sickness (GTS) comes from the skin exposure to nicotine in wet tobacco leaves. This illness is more common among tobacco harvesters during harvesting season (priming) but can happen anytime there is exposure to tobacco. Often harvesters break off ripe leaves and carrying them under their arms. Their clothes may become soaked with tobacco juice quickly. The armpits absorb chemicals more easily than other skin areas. Harvesters wearing wet clothing are more likely to get GTS. Young harvesters are more commonly affected. The average time from starting work to getting sick is 10 hours, but this varies. The illness lasts a couple of days.


  • Nausea.

  • Increased sweating.

  • Abdominal cramping.

  • Dizziness.

  • Vomiting.

  • Salivation.

  • Difficulty breathing.

  • Abnormal temperature.

  • Diarrhea.

  • Weakness.

  • Headache.

  • Rapid breathing.


Immediately wash your skin well with soap and water.


  • Wear waterproof clothing and gloves while handling tobacco leaves.

  • When harvesting tobacco leaves, change into clean, dry clothing and boots if your clothes become wet.


Your symptoms remain or worsen after treatment.