I figured it out.. I think I know why so many anti-smoke / tobacco oppose e cigarettes. It’s because at some point in history these zealots must have lost a previous battle because kids can still buy candy cigarettes!
That’s right. Check it out.
I was in a store the other day and I couldn’t believe my eyes when I spotted advertising for “retro-candy” on the checkout isle which included a large box of candy cigarettes!
I immediately snapped a picture with my iPhone for this article.
I am not going to say the name of the store, because if I did you probably haven’t heard of them anyway.
I mean, they are such a small store that no one has heard of and can probably afford to do this sort of thing with no worries. I will just say that it was a craft store that that starts with the letter, “Michaels.”
I know some of you must be thinking, “c-mon, everyone knows you can still buy candy cigarettes. What’s the big deal?”
Well, when you spend as much time as I do in a week analyzing arguments and proposed legislation against electronic cigarettes you realize that probably one of the top 3 arguments against them is the potential risk that they pose towards kids.
There are several variations of this argument ALWAYS cited without a shred of evidence or proof in the form of actual research because it doesn’t exist:
- available candy and fruit e cig flavors must be targeting children
- selling e cigs in malls is obviously targeting children
- e cigarettes could be a “gateway” to actual cigarette and tobacco use
And, while the vast majority of e cig distributors do NOT sell e cigarettes to minors, a couple companies have been busted doing just that creating a disproportionate amount of bad press.
Don’t get me wrong. I know kids are extremely impressionable.
Oddly enough though I rarely hear anyone argue that it’s is the responsibility of each and every individual to set a good example for ALL of the children in their lives because they are so impressionable.
Instead, business is painted as bad by the media and the negativity fuels the presses satisfying some. This is really immature when you think about it.
I started this article suggesting that there surely must have been an epic battle to ban candy cigarettes considering the reaction people have been having to electronic cigarettes. Well, I did some admittedly lame research using Wikipedia and Google and here is what I found:
First there was no epic battle of any sort in the U.S. according to Wikipedia. To this day candy cigarettes remain legal in the U.S. and are out there on some store shelves in plain view for kids and parents to see. The only interesting thing I learned from the Wiki is that candy cigarettes are called “sugar fags” in the UK.
On a side note I have heard my brothers-from-other-mothers across the Atlantic call electronic cigarettes “faux fags.” Even better!
The Wiki goes on to say that apparently a federal ban was considered in the U.S. as far back as 1970 and then again in 1991, but it was NOT passed. Also, candy cigarettes were actually banned in North Dakota from 1953-1967. Pretty boring stuff…
But, if you use Wikipedia as a measure of importance or controversy though (i.e. longer articles = more info = more important, or more controversial) then “candy cigarettes” barely registers on the scale with a Wikipedia article approximately 215 words long with 4 references. This blog post / rant is twice that already!
Compare this to the Wikipedia entry on “electronic cigarettes” with approximately 2,567 words and 32 references or the Wikipedia on “cigarettes” with a whopping 4,159 and 56 references at the time of writing this.
After noticing this trend in Wikipedia I tried Google to see if I could find any news on proposed candy cigarette bans and wouldn’t you know I actually did find a few?
I could tell just by looking at the search results though that the campaigns were nowhere near as popular as campaigns and stories regarding electronic cigarettes. But, how could this be quantified?
To try to quantify any indication of the “popularity” of an idea on Google I searched 2 term and looked at the number of results returned. I tried searching Google for “ban candy cigarettes” and “ban electronic cigarettes” in quotes and here is what I found:
Google indicates there are about 11,000 results for “ban candy cigarettes” and about 1,020,000 results for “ban electronic cigarettes!” If you are buying into my ridiculous method this means that the idea of banning electronic cigarettes is almost 100 times more popular than banning candy cigarettes.
Why is this?
I’m sure it’s because of the small minority of e cigarette suppliers are moving their tacky kiosks into malls everywhere. Parents and do-gooders see this as an attack on kids and morality and rightly so.
Something must be done quickly to “save the children” before any research has a chance to prove or disprove a link between e cigarettes and actual cigarette use because some mall owners out there are too greedy, tacky or lacking in morals to reject applications for e cigarette kiosk leases.
Similar to the impetus of gun control laws, people want to attack and control the thing (guns, e cigarette) instead of confronting the people responsible and holding them accountable. Attacking the thing is easier and less confrontational.
This is a shame too, because there IS actually a study referenced in that Wikipedia entry on candy cigarettes linking candy cigarettes to real cigarette use authored by Jonathan Klein at the University of Rochester and published by the British Medical Journal (BMJ) in 2000.
This research surveyed 25,000+ Americans and found that 22 percent of smokers played with and consumed candy cigarettes while only 14 percent of non-smokers played with and consumed the candy.
I am not a scientist so I cannot judge whether these results are valid or significant for their sample size etc. My wife is the PhD with a background in research and she is shaking her head no and mumbling something I don’t understand about “effect size.”
But, since when has the mass media or politicians cared about that? They should be all over this.
Am, I saying I support a ban on candy cigarettes? No. I think the last thing this country needs is more useless laws. If we spent half our time and money promoting good morals and ethics in this country instead of trying to create a law to govern every aspect of our life we would all be better off.
Its bad enough I have to waste my time writing this.
Common sense tells you that stores shouldn’t sell candy cigarettes and most don’t anyway. It’s just not worth it.
If there is actually a market for candy cigarettes in a demographic that a store serves, they should be sold discretely behind a counter and not to kids.
Businesses should police themselves using a moral compass and not some self appointed ethics police. I have heard Wal-Mart is actually setting a good example in this area and does not sell products that simulate cigarettes or tobacco like candy cigarettes and Big League Chew.
Do I think it’s OK to smoke electronic cigarettes around kids? My opinion is no. Kids are extraordinarily impressionable.
I will not tell anyone how to raise their kids, but I will suggest that people should not smoke electronic cigarettes OR regular cigarettes around their kids AND other people’s kids as well.
I will also suggest that people don’t smoke, drink, cuss, lose their temper, or exhibit any behavior they don’t want their children duplicating later in life.
I just can’t wait for the next politician or mis-informed media personality to propose a ban on electronic cigarettes because of the risk they may pose to children. If their proposal doesn’t also include a ban on candy cigarettes, I will call them out every chance I get.