At the same time, according to public health data, each day more than 3,500 U.S. kids try their first cigarette. Each day, 1,000 kids under 18 become new regular smokers. Over 90% of adult smokers begin as teenagers while a third of youth smokers will die prematurely of smoking-related diseases.
Research shows that kids are disproportionately influenced by advertising and marketing because they learn by mimicking adults. By allowing kids to “play” adult, candy cigarettes make for very effective marketing. It sure looked like those boys who walked out of the store were feeling cool with “cigarettes” hanging from their mouths.
At that point I expressed my concern the owner and asked her to pull this product. After all, is the profit to be made on candy cigarettes worth even one more kid becoming interested in smoking?
Lynne T. Braun, PhD, CNP
American Heart Association, Metro Chicago Board of Directors
UPDATE: Lynne's article was published in the Sun Times on August 4, 2009. Congratulations, Lynne! http://www.suntimes.com/news/commentary/letters/1699102,CST-EDT-vox04.article