For the past one hundred years, a variety of chocolate, candy, and bubble gum confections have been manufactured that simulate the appearance of actual cigarettes. The persuasive packaging of these products influences kids of all ages to buy these seemingly harmless treats. Recently, however, many parents and other adults are becoming concerned with the fact that perhaps these candies are swaying kids towards real cigarette smoking. The government has recently caught onto this new found uproar against candy cigarettes. The candy cigarette industry is in a state of fury after the government announced that manufacturers may have to start covering their packages with warnings. Warning labels will soon be required to cover at least 50% of their packaging, advising consumers of the products similarity to tobacco products.
Somewhere between all the government hassles and comments from parents, people began to wonder if perhaps candy cigarettes are encouraging or even leading to actual cigarette smoking in kids. A recent newspaper article announced, "Candy Cigarettes Influence Kids," and went on to report that children who buy candy cigarettes are much more likely to smoke later on in life. These articles and other information sources are what prompted us to study what juniors and seniors at North Allegheny Senior High School thought about candy cigarettes and smoking actual tobacco products. We surveyed 50 males and females between the ages of 16 and 18. After researching information, we hypothesized that children who ate candy cigarettes would, indeed, be more likely to smoke later in life.
94% of the students we surveyed claimed they ate candy cigarettes as children, 92% of these said they pretended to actually smoke the candy. All of the people surveyed stated that their parents allowed and / or bought candy cigarettes for them when they were younger. 19 out of the 50 people we surveyed are regular smokers, another 13 smoke periodically. Only 8% of the students surveyed whose parents smoke also smoke themselves. 78% of the surveyed group believes that candy cigarettes do promote and persuade young children to smoke tobacco products, yet only 6% believe that these candies should actually be banned because, as one of the surveyed individuals wrote, "It's just candy, it doesn't do any harm." A study conducted at the University of Virginia indicated that 7 th graders who purchased candy cigarettes as children were at least twice as likely to smoke cigarettes than those children who had not bought the candies. This study also pointed out that most of the 7 th graders who purchased candy cigarettes bought them because the candy looked real and the kids felt popular and part of the "in-crowd." In conclusion to our study on candy cigarettes versus tobacco products, we believe that there is a link between children who bought candy cigarettes and teenagers who smoke now.
The majority of the people surveyed said that the packaging was persuasive and realistic looking and pushed kids towards tobacco products. All of the smokers we surveyed claimed to have used candy cigarettes as children; and it's proven that most children who buy candy cigarettes do so to be trendy, which also is one of the main reasons teenagers get into smoking tobacco products. Although most of the students did not believe that candy cigarettes should be banner, majority ruled that the tobacco companies are definitely making money from people who learned the ways of smoking through a seemingly "harmless" candy.