Did you ever eat these or pretend like you were smoking them? If so, are you a smoker now? Apparently, they've done studies and have come to the conclusion that people who ate candy cigarettes as children are more likely to be smokers. Okay, I'll agree with the studies because I'm sure they've done many of them. In fact, I've read two of them here and here. However, what about me? They forgot to poll me. I ate these things when I was a kid and I never became a smoker. That, alone, is pretty amazing when I think about it.
You see, I grew up in a household of smokers. My mom smoked. My brother smoked. My sister smoked. My dad, who died before I was two, was a chain smoker. Both my grandparents smoked. In fact, my grandfather had emphysema and had one lung removed. He continued to smoke with one lung up until the day he died. I know that for a fact because I was with him that day. I also spent a lot of time at the hospitals my mom worked in as a nurse and just about everyone smoked. Regardless, I was the one in my family that ate candy cigarettes and yet, I was the only non-smoker. Explain that.
There's a story going around today about an old-fashioned soda shop in Minnesota that is facing a $500 fine for selling candy cigarettes. You can read about it here. According to the article, the fine is just a warning for now, providing they stop selling them immediately. The owners were reported saying they had no idea they weren't allowed to sell them. You can read more about that here. I had to giggle at the one comment that said, "I just ate a bag of gummy bears. Now I can't stop thinking about where to find a REAL bear to eat!" Yeah, that kind of sums it up, doesn't it? I don't know the stats, but if I were to guess, I'd think the majority of people who buy candy cigarettes today are people in their 40s. I'm sure they taste just as horrible now as they did when I was a kid. I doubt my boys would even be able to choke one of the nasty things down.
Many places have banned candy cigarettes -- from big name retailers to entire countries. The UK has banned them. I don't know, but the two times I was in England, I was shocked at how many people smoked. How's that ban working for you, England? Now don't get me wrong. I see both sides of this and I do get what the fuss is. No one wants to encourage kids to smoke. If candy cigarettes do that, perhaps they shouldn't make them anymore. What's one more thing to have banned! Remember those silver balls we used to put on sugar cookies at Christmas? You can't buy those in California anymore. They're banned. Silver balls are evil.
So, the answer for candy companies has been to change the name to "candy sticks" and not include the little red coloring on the tip that represented the ember. Let's get real -- how will that help? Kids today won't know what they are. They taste awful anyway. The only people wanting to buy them would probably be someone like me for nostalgia. It's not because I want to pretend to smoke. I can go to any Walmart -- who does NOT sell candy cigarettes, by the way -- and buy a carton of real cancer sticks. It's not because they're so incredibly delicious. I could list hundreds of other candies that are way better.
Remember, I was born in the mid-60s -- candy was my life. If I were to buy candy cigarettes today, it would be for nostalgia. It would be to savor a memory of childhood. Things were different when I was a kid. Kids today have a lot bigger things to worry about. So, is the answer to ban candy cigarettes? In 1971, there was a ban on advertising cigarettes on television and radio. I'm sure there are studies proving that this was effective. If so, that's great. I'd love to see everyone stop smoking. It's a nasty habit that will take you to your grave. If the only way to buy candy cigarettes is through the Internet, or some black-market-candy place, then so be it. However, the fact of the matter is -- if kids are around anyone who smokes, they'll find a way to mimic or pretend to do it. It wasn't too long ago when Neil saw a cigarette butt on the ground and asked me what it was. I guess I've done a good job sheltering him from the evils of smoking. Having said that -- he HAS pretended to smoke with a lollipop. That's what kids do. What now? Ban lollipops? Drinking straws?
People need to stop blaming things for the actions they choose to take part in. Don't smoke. It's that simple. If you do smoke, try to quit. That's not as simple, but it IS possible. I ate candy cigarettes and bubble gum cigars. I never became a smoker. I ate Atomic Fire Balls too, but I've never blown anything up. I've eaten lots of gummy bears, but have no desire to go out and shoot a bear for my supper. Remember Cow Tales candy? That's funny. I've eaten those too, but never wanted to eat a real cow tail. Hmmm ... is that a bad thing?
ETA -- And just what type of message are we telling our kids by making marijuana legal in Colorado and Washington? I know other states will soon follow. So, candy cigarettes are bad, but it's okay to smoke pot? If people want to smoke pot, then fine, but I would like to see some studies done on the effects of second-hand pot smoke. I'm still waiting for one of my doctor's report to come back saying I have cancer from all the second-hand smoke I've breathed in. It's just funny to me that they'd make a fuss over candy cigarettes and yet, dance in the streets when pot became legal. What kind of message is that?