Serious Question for Everyone About Tobacco


I’m stepping outside the usual fare because I saw something a few weeks ago that surprised me, and I was curious what others thought. I walked into a local discount store, and the first thing I saw was Big League Chew. For those who are unfamiliar, Big League Chew is bubble gum that is made to resemble chewing tobacco. It was really popular when I was a child, and at that time, chewing tobacco was popular with baseball players, so the idea was that if you had Big League Chew you could be popular like your baseball heroes. As the popularity of tobacco has declined, I haven’t seen this product as readily advertised or promoted–the same for candy cigarettes1. However, I was under the impression that these products are not only less popular today, but illegal. I personally wouldn’t support a law against pseudo-tobacco products for kids because I think it’s too much government intervention, but I would be more than happy to launch a boycott or letter writing campaign against companies who produce and distribute pseudo-alcohol, tobacco, and drug products to children. I’m not sure what correlation there is between the use of pseudo-tobacco/alcohol/drug products as a child, and subsequent use of tobacco/alcohol/drugs as an adult. What do you think?

Would you allow your kids to buy these products? Do you think the products should be banned? Do you think they affect children’s likelihood of using the “real thing” when they get older?

  1. Apparently there are also marijuana candies, but I’ve only seen them when a local TV station did an expose a few years ago. []
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44 Responses to Serious Question for Everyone About Tobacco

  1. 1
    joe says:

    That gum was terrible. I remember that it lost it’s flavor really fast and was hard to chew. I’d suggest my kids chew better gum. As for being a gateway to smoking…who knows. But at a guess I’d say it’s probably not that big a factor

  2. 2
    Robert says:

    Such products are simply tools we give children to pantomime adulthood. I don’t object to my children emulating their childhood heroes if those heroes’ behavior is not morally objectionable. Chewing tobacco is disgusting but it isn’t evil and so it isn’t a big deal for me.

    And no, these kind of products shouldn’t be banned.

  3. 3
    Sara no H. says:

    I don’t know whether my opinion even counts because I don’t plan on having children, but I rather like the way my parents raised me: if you’re old enough to ask for it, you’re old enough to try it. I’ve been trying various wines and spirits since I was in second grade, and although I’ve never developed a taste for the stuff (I dislike the flavour of alcohol), the fact that it was never “forbidden” didn’t provoke me to do something stupid, like go binge drinking with friends.

    “Trying” isn’t necessarily the same as taking up a habit, though. I wouldn’t let my kids smoke habitually, because I can’t stand the smell and I don’t really want them fsking up their lungs while they’re covered under my health plan. Once they’re old enough to pay their own doctor’s bills and afford their own cigarettes, it’s their choice.

  4. I think there is a bigger disconnect here than with the candy cigarettes. They don’t even come in the same kind of package: tobacco chew comes in small, round canisters but this gum comes in bags.

    But if there’s a strong correlation between kids who use the big league chew and who end up using chewing tobacco, I’d be all for banning it.

  5. 5
    Bonnie says:

    My growing-up experience was similar to Sara no H.’s. When I was a child, my parents would give me a small glass of burgundy when we had pasta for dinner. I drank “illicitly” only three times as a teen. The “if you’re old enough to ask . . .” concept applied to books, too. My parents never restricted what I could read. On a few occasions, I began reading books that after only a chapter or two I realized on my own that I was not ready for them and picked them up again only after a few had passed. But I think my parents were exceptional – raised in poverty in the South, they both put themselves through college and realized the importance of children having a degree of agency. I’m not sure that works for all kids, though.

    Rachel, I think kids have such a complex mix of personality, intelligence (emotional as well as mental ability), and responses to peer- and society-based pressure that only the parent(s)/guardian(s) of each child can figure out what’s appropriate. And even then it’s a crap shoot.

    Elaine – the small round tins contain “dipping” tobacco, the “just a pinch between your cheek and gum” kind. The tobacco that comes in pouches like the above gum is a long cut of tobacco meant to be actually chewed. Um, *ick*.

  6. 6
    perianwyr says:

    I always thought that shit was for hicks when I was a kid. It didn’t conjure images of pro baseball players for me. Honestly, I didn’t have much cultural exposure to it, though.

  7. 7
    Auguste says:

    They don’t even come in the same kind of package

    Canisters are more common nowadays, but chew still comes in bags, too.

  8. 8
    Raquita says:

    Well, I chewed it but like somebody else pointed out it was crappy gum, and I hated spmoking and can remember only trying it cause it was cheaper than packs and we thought we got more gum in a pack and it was easier to skimp with the sharing cause you could give out really skimpy pinches of gum and still technically be sharing.
    if my kids asked for it I would let them buy it and talk about it and ask why they wanted it etc. but I don’t think it helps kids decide to try the real version – I don’t smoke at all and have never tried chewing tobacco.
    great entry –

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  10. 9
    Lu says:

    Rachel, I think kids have such a complex mix of personality, intelligence (emotional as well as mental ability), and responses to peer- and society-based pressure that only the parent(s)/guardian(s) of each child can figure out what’s appropriate. And even then it’s a crap shoot.

    What she said.

    My dad used to give me sips of his whiskey and whatever else I asked for. My parents both smoked, and I don’t think I ever asked to try that; I’ve hated the smell of cigarette smoke for as long as I can recall. As a kid I hated the taste of whiskey, beer and coffee. It’s still true for the first two, but there are other alcoholic drinks I like. We let our daughter try champagne at a wedding we went to recently. She didn’t like it.

    As for banning these products — that’s a tough one. I’m leery of both the nanny state and unrestrained predatory corporate greed (and sufficiently rapacious greed is bound to get predatory at some point). I ate candy cigarettes as a kid and had no trouble distinguishing them from the real kind. I think we’ve bought them for our daughter at least once, and she seems clear on it too.

  11. 10
    Sailorman says:

    I agree that things which are shown to be getting more kids addicted are bad, and should be banned.

    however, I don’t think BLC is in that category. I preferred the regular flavor, though.

  12. 11
    Holly says:

    I might be remembering incorrectly, but doesn’t this stuff resemble sticks of gum that have been shredded into small strips about the size of blades of grass — but pink? (Although I suspect maybe the sour apple flavor is light green.) My impression growing up was always that they took the extra scraps and errors from the bubble-gum strip-cutting machine and shredded it into Big League Chew.

    The thing is, it doesn’t look or smell anything like actual chewing tobacco. My sister and I used to chew this stuff occasionally when we were kids (I liked the artwork on the outside more than the gum, it used to be cartoonier) and when I first encountered real chewing tobacco (a football player in my freshman dorm) I was totally disgusted and repulsed. I mean, maybe I would have felt differently if I had grown up in an area with high chewing tobacco consumption — we bought Big League Chew at the corner store in our neighborhood in Seattle, and didn’t know any adults who chewed. But still, I think there’s a fairly significant disconnect here.

  13. 12
    wookie says:

    I remember that stuff and the candy cigarettes. Loved both as a kid! Not a smoker or a tabacco chewer and now in my fourth decade of life. I will let my kids try alcohol once they are tall enough to put their chin on the bar (try meaning a sip or two, not their own drink). I think knowing what it tastes like is a big part of removing the taboo/mystery mindset that makes so many young people drink like idiots.

    I think if I had taken up the habit I would have been emulating my parents (both smokers), not some weird candy-drug gateway. Doesn’t meth come in crystals? Should we ban all clear rock candy now too? I don’t see the causation in this … I think the correlation is likely a red-herring.

    Now should things intended for children be marketed in the form of substances known to be dangerous or illegal? My sense of propriety says no, it’s not appropriate or nessecary. Find a different marketing angle! I don’t let my kids play with toy guns either, although once they are old enough, we will go out to the bush and learn about gun safety and how to use a (pellet) gun properly and probably shoot a whole mess of empty pop-cans. But that’s my belief that guns are weapons/tools, not toys.

  14. 13
    inge says:

    Would depend on the children, but I’d proabably allow them to have those candies if they want them.

    I loved chocolate cigarettes and bubble gum cigarettes as a kid, because, hey, sweets, yet in all of my life I haven’t smoked a single “real” cigarette. I was allowed sips of wine and champagne when I was five, and got grape juice in a real wine glass at dinner if I wanted to, and my attitude to drink is mostly blah.

    Props are not habit-forming. If you discover that fiddling with a bubble gum cigarette gives your fingers something to do, it’s more likely that you switch to playing with a pen when you’re too old for bubble gum cigarettes than to a real cigarette, which is smelly and can set your desk on fire.

    IME, people who smoked usually did it because it was normal for their parents to smoke, the one or two people I knew who had a drinking problem were self-medicating depression or chronic pain. Completely different motivation.

    Banning them? As if we need more stupid laws.

  15. 14
    mythago says:

    Such products are simply tools we give children to pantomime adulthood.

    Which is exactly why tobacco companies don’t, for example, sue candy-cig manufacturers for aping their packaging or logos. The desired pantomime is a child who might take up chewing or smoking tobacco as an adult. (At my firm, which does some tobacco litigation, we collect new or unusual brands of candy cigarettes and cigars.)

    My understanding is that it’s illegal to *manufacture* candy cigarettes, but not to import or sell them, so what you see in a candy store was likely made in another country. No, I wouldn’t let my kids buy them. Of course, being good Californians they wouldn’t dream of doing anything like smoking anyway.

  16. 15
    Kate L. says:

    You know, I liked candy ciggarettes as a child. You know why? Because they tasted good. I also liked big league chew. It was super sugary and although it ran out of flavor fast, so did all the yummy sugary gums – hubba bubba and bubbalicious.

    I grew up in a family of smokers. My mom died of smoking related causes at age 60, she smoked my entire life. In the house, in the car with windows rolled up, etc. it was disgusting and I *hate* smoking. I have never touched one and never will. On the other hand, all 3 of my older sisters smoked at one point or another. I don’t think it had anything to do with their desires for candy likenesses. It was about their peer groups in high school and the fact that it was normative behavior in our home.

    I guess my bottom line is that although I don’t think they are the greatest products in the world, I don’t think they are effective in “swaying” kids toward unhealthy habits (other than eating too much candy of course!). For me, not smoking was a combination of my personality and all the “it will kill you” messages I received as well as the fact that almost no one in my peer group did it, nor did I ever feel pressure to do it to be “cool.” And finally, I was swayed by personal experience of how disgusting a habit it was. So, I think a better strategy is to parent your children in a way that helps them choose positive peer groups, having self confidence enough to buck peer pressure should there be any and to continually reiterate how gross it is and how bad for you it is.

    My husband is a smoker (which drives me NUTS) and his poor mom continually blames herself because he was born in the 70s in Europe. She had an ashtray on her stomach during contractions… she smoked while in labor… so she feels like he got the “addiction” in the womb, etc. Forget about the fact that he didn’t even START smoking until he was 19 years old and should have known better.

    I’m not terribly fond of this phrase because of the way it has been co-opted, but at some point people need to take some personal responsibility for themselves. By all means, don’t sell ciggarettes to minors, continue educating people, etc, but if an 18 year old decides to smoke they have no one to blame but themselves.

    I think the legislature has more important things to worry about than candy.

  17. 16
    Crys T says:

    I’m another who used to buy bubble gum and chocolate candy cigarettes and never took up smoking. But my older brother did.

    Also, my parents always let us take sips of alcohol if we asked. Again, I have never taken up drinking in any real way, but my older brother did.

    So I’m guessing that the deciding factors were not what we did or did not do as children, but other influences.

  18. 17
    Genevieve says:

    I chewed on bubblegum cigars as a kid…ate chocolate cigars, ate candy cigarettes, I might’ve had bubblegum tobacco, but I can’t remember. I’m nineteen now and I have zero interest in smoking (and I’m exposed to smokers all the time, what with my boyfriend’s parents and two of my closest friends all being smokers.) But honestly–I think that these things aren’t necissarily harmful, as long as their purchase and consumption is contrasted with strong anti-smoking messages from teachers, parents, PSAs, etc. As long as the kids know: “It’s candy so it won’t hurt, but the real thing will,” then it’s okay, but if they somehow don’t ever learn that real cigarettes do not equal candy cigarettes, it’s bad.

  19. 18
    chewie says:

    not sure if this type of product is illegal or not – personally i was a big league chew fan when i was growing up. i was also unfortunately dumb enough to get hooked on smokeless tobacco (kodiak) for more than 16 years. now i’ve been clean for over 400 days thanks to (

    i can’t say that i was drawn to dip based on my use of big league chew but i do think that tobacco use was romanticized more when i was growing up and i suppose it was PARTIALLY because of products like this.


  20. 19
    mythago says:

    “I did X as a kid and I turned out OK, therefore X is harmless” is, as they say, not even wrong.

  21. 20
    Tom T. says:

    My understanding is that Big League Chew, which was conceived of by a major league ballplayer, was originally marketed to MLB players as an alternative to chewing tobacco.

    Candy cigarettes have been banned in a few countries but remain legal in the US. Often they’re just called “candy sticks” or some such, though.

  22. 21
    inge says:

    Mythago @20: “I did X as a kid and I turned out OK, therefore X is harmless” is, as they say, not even wrong.

    In the absence of solid data (has there been any presented that I missed?), “Having been in exaclty the situation described, I haven’t discoverd, nor seen anywhere, any plausible intellectual, emotional, practical or causal connection between harmless X and harmful Y” seems just as valid to me as “Harmless X shares trait A with harmful Y, so X is causing Y”.

    The only way that seem possible to me to connect bubble gum cigarettes with the real thing are shape. Bubble gum is not addictive, not more harmful to one’s health than any other sugary sweet, won’t help with migraines, won’t help you concentrate or make you less hungry, and smells only moderately bad.

    So to consider bubble gum cigarettes as harmful as real cigarettes, one would have to claim that shape trumps function, or — and that’s where personal experience comes in — that some people (children, in this case) are unable to distinguish between shape and function. While that might hold true for 2yo (can’t speak from experience, I do not remember well that far back), the fact that everyone who has anectodal evidence here from 5 years up could make that distinction does not automatically mean that school kids cannot make it.

  23. 22
    mythago says:

    inge, I assume you think that Big Tobacco and all its marketing personnel are stupid, and should be vigilantly policing any potential dilution of their trademark or the trade dress of their packaging, since it’s totally ineffective to (as Robert notes) quietly encourage children to see smoking as an appropriate, adult behavior that they can imitate.

    So to consider bubble gum cigarettes as harmful as real cigarettes

    Please point out where anybody has made this strawman argument.

  24. 23
    Kate L. says:

    “inge, I assume you think that Big Tobacco and all its marketing personnel are stupid, and should be vigilantly policing any potential dilution of their trademark or the trade dress of their packaging, since it’s totally ineffective to (as Robert notes) quietly encourage children to see smoking as an appropriate, adult behavior that they can imitate.”

    I don’t think Big tobacco is stupid. I just don’t think children are either.

    Do I think this stuff might have some impact for some people? Yeah, probably, but I would be very surprised if big league chew and candy cigarettes (and other stuff like it) went totally off the market and as a result you see a significant decrease in new users over time.

    I think, in general, there are far more influencing factors in why and how young people begin smoking than candy products, and I’m simply not interested in the gov’t legislating something I perceive as a negligable effect.

    For the most part, even though smoking is still common and young people still take it up, the “culture” of smoking in this country is changed dramatically. It is no longer socially acceptable in a lot of public places. Shoot, in some states you can’t even smoke in a bar anymore (which is ok with me!). It’s MUCH less prevelant on TV and in movies as just a casual prop or something. The only TV show in recent history I can think of where a main character was a smoker is Sex and the City, and even her character struggled with quitting, and that it was something others near her (well one of the “boyfriends” anyway – lets not go there) found disgusting and UNattractive.

    I don’t know the stats, and would be interested to learn them, but I assume fewer people begin smoking today than they did 20 years ago. I would also guess that more people quit after a short period of time than 20 years ago. I knew plenty of people in college who were “social” smokers. They smoked when they drank, that kind of thing and shortly after college, they pretty much all quit. By age 25 I’d say only 1 in 10 was still a smoker. Would it be better to elminate it all together? Yes, but the amount of lifetime smokers age 16-age 70 has to be lower today than it used to be… I guess my assumptions could be totally off base, but it seems to me that it is something that is declining. Probably not fast enough, but declining nonetheless.

    I think there are far more effective ways at preventing young people from beginning smoking than banning candy look alikes.

  25. 24
    nobody.really says:

    Do you think the products should be banned?

    To what extent may government restrict legal behavior because it might lead to illegal behavior? I rarely find much consistency in the answers to these questions. On one end of the spectrum we restrict public ownership of various weapons, even though ownership itself is harmless, as a means to restricting the criminal use or threatened use of those weapons. On the other end, we permit the sale, purchase and ownership of “drug paraphernalia” even though it may facilitate illegal drug use. In between, states have different policies about the legality of radar detectors and jammers; while their use is presumably harmless in the abstract, they facilitate speeding by helping speeders evade detection and punishment.

    Here, we’re talking about whether to restrict the use of a legal substance (tobacco-like gum) to influence the use of a legal substance (tobacco). If we permit the sale and use of drug paraphernalia, surely we’d have to permit the use and sale of this stuff.

    Yeah, it’s nasty, dry, and lacerates the roof of my mouth. Maybe there otta be a law against that, but so far there ain’t. On the other hand, I bet the stuff is made in China. So if you want to get it banned, test it for toxic substances or put on Utube a video of prison laborers making it as they’re having their kidneys recycled. But I don’t see much merit in banning it based on its propensity for induce tobacco use among kids.

  26. 25
    RonF says:

    The tobacco that comes in pouches like the above gum is a long cut of tobacco meant to be actually chewed.

    Ah, no. That stuff goes between your gum and your lip or cheek as well.

  27. 26
    mythago says:

    I don’t think Big tobacco is stupid. I just don’t think children are either.

    Children don’t have to be stupid to be impressionable, and to absorb messages like “smoking is something grownups do”. Is Robert’s statement really that controversial?

    nobody.really, nobody has proposed making it illegal to chew gum cigarettes.

  28. 27
    Aaron V. says:

    Big League Chew was invented as a substitute for chewing tobacco by baseball players. Currently, smokeless tobacco is banned in minor league baseball, but legal in the majors.

    I don’t think the existence of candy cigarettes has much at all to do with smoking – the drop in availability of candy cigarettes is an artifact of the reduction of smoking in society. Candy cigarettes are still legal to make, import, and sell in the U.S., but unpopular compared to when I was young. (They’re now called “candy sticks” or “stix” in most U.S. markets.)

    No, the way to keep people from smoking is to not let smoking become a popular activity, either as mainstream or rebellious.

    Tax the crap out of them, like Oregon wants to do with Measure 50 – an 84.5 cent-a-pack cigarette tax to fund children’s health care. Naturally, the tobacco companies are angry – they’ve sent over $6 million to promote the theory that cheaper cigarettes are better than health care for children.

  29. 28
    mythago says:

    Interesting – I was told by a candy-store owner that it’s perfectly OK to sell candy cigarettes and cigars, but not to manufacture them here, and that’s why he bought all his from Europe. From one of Aaron’s links:

    For the first 65 or so years, the major cigarette corporations either looked the other way or took an active part in ensuring that the candy package reproductions were “faithful” to their less-appealing tobacco brothers. For some reason, a lot of people believe candy cigarettes were “totally outlawed” in the United States sometime in the past, when in actuality, the major players have remained one step ahead of governmental regulation via sluggish self-policing and a strong commitment to what ESPN would call “Extreme Hiding.”

    Really, I’m not arguing for any kind of governmental ban; tobacco is a legal product. But I’m also not buying the idea that little kids are such sharp-eye cynics that Phillip Morris can’t lay a glove on ’em. (Kids may not be stupid, but if they don’t start smoking as teenagers or earlier it’s likely they never will.)

  30. 29
    Kate L. says:

    “Children don’t have to be stupid to be impressionable, and to absorb messages like “smoking is something grownups do”. ”

    Agreed. But clearly, some children (maybe even most) are able to discern the difference. Maybe it’s more important to teach children how to avoid being coerced by marketing agencies. It’s certainly possible – takes a lot of stong parenting, and development of critical thinking skills which is not easy, but possible nonetheless. I suspect that skill will be more beneficial over time than simply banning the impressionable substance.

    “Really, I’m not arguing for any kind of governmental ban; tobacco is a legal product. ”

    Then what are we arguing about? LOL. I agree that children are susceptible to the messages… I just don’t think banning the product is the answer to reducing that susceptibility.

  31. 30
    mythago says:

    There’s a lot of room in between “ban it all” and “caveat emptor”.

  32. 31
    Eliza says:

    Well, I liked candy cigarettes as a child, and now I’m a smoker. Is there causation there? Probably not. I could certainly distinguish between the two. Of course, I could also clearly distinguish between BLC and real chewing tobacco (I knew one was chewing gum and one was tobacco), and yet, I still felt a very strong connection between the two — so much so that I refused to ever even try BLC because the connection to chewing tobacco was so strong for me, and I found chewing tobacco to be so repulsive, that I couldn’t even bring myself to try BLC. Most of my girlfriends at the time felt the same way — and so did the boys, but with the opposite result (they all chewed it and pretended to spit regularly, like they were chewing tobacco).

    I’m not for banning it, but I am for “caveat emptor,” as mythago says. I don’t know that banning or taxing or any of things actually works. Maybe there are studies that prove these things work, I don’t know. But based on empirical and anecdotal evidence, I’d say adamantly no.

    I used to live in South Carolina. There, people smoked EVERYWHERE. There were only a few counties that had any sort of smoking bans (and in one county that ban was overturned). Yet, I was one of the very few smokers among my social group (made up primarily of people I met through my own social service work – coworkers, friends of coworkers, people working on similar causes as me, etc.). It was very rare for anyone in my line of work to smoke. They tended to be very health conscious, veg*ns, bike riders, etc.

    So, 2 years ago, I move to Portland, OR, which is like a mecca for the health-conscious, the veg*ns, bike rides, etc. There are smoking bans EVERYWHERE, with new ones every day it seems. So imagine my surprise when I discover that about 75% of coworkers (same field) smoke. Yeah, many of them are veg*n bike riders, but they still smoke. I have never met so many smokers in my life as I have in Portland.

    Ironically, I was hoping the move to Portland would help me quit smoking. Instead, I find myself smoking more. (That’s my responsibility, not trying to blame anyone — I just thought being in a more smoking-unfriendly city would encourage me to not smoke. Instead I’m finding that all my co-workers want to take smoke breaks with me, and my friends all smoke around me. Makes it hard to quit in that type of environment.)

  33. 32
    mythago says:

    I’m not for banning it, but I am for “caveat emptor,” as mythago says.

    mythago was sarcastically using “caveat emptor” to mean the new philosophy of “personal responsibility is the buyer’s problem; the people who actually sell, manufacture and market the stuff have no personal responsibility at all.”

    Again, if you think candy tobacco products have no discernable effect on kids’ willingness to smoke whatsoever, you have to think that Big Tobacco is really, really stupid, because they’ve been quietly allowing and/or supporting candy knockoffs of their products in return for no benefit whatsoever.

  34. 33
    Eliza says:

    OK, sorry, missed the sarcasm. I was reading too fast, not paying enough attention.

    But, FWIW, I absolutely do NOT think that candy cigarettes or the like have have no discernible effect on kids’ willingness to smoke whatsoever. My only reason for not fully supporting an all-out ban is that I’m not sure it would do any good in the long run, just like every other ban out there. That doesn’t mean, however, that I wouldn’t be for restrictions — and, for that matter, I wouldn’t actually be opposed to a ban, either.

    And, FWIW, I think the “the new philosophy of ‘personal responsibility is the buyer’s problem; the people who actually sell, manufacture and market the stuff have no personal responsibility at all’” ‘ is ridiculous and quite stupid. And I think of the same philosophy of “it never hurt me, so can’t be anything wrong with it.” If that were true, most of us would still be going sans seatbelt and sunbathing with baby oil.

  35. 34
    mythago says:

    Oh, hey, when I was a kid, my parents didn’t make me wear a seatbelt half the time and *I’m* still here, so clearly all this buckle-your-kids nanny-state stuff is liberal crap. :P

  36. 35
    RonF says:

    Maybe what should be done is to permit the manufacture of candy cigarettes in the U.S., and then ban the manufacture and sale of real cigarettes.

    And when I was a kid, cars didn’t have seat belts. So there!

  37. 36
    chewie says:

    while i’m completely against cigs & smokeless tobacco in this country, banning it would be a disaster (see prohibition/alchohol). the bottom line is people need to make their own decisions. while these candy products can contribute to future behavior (yes, i understand this is up for debate) then the PARENTS need to keep track of that behavior.


  38. 37
    RonF says:

    Well, we could at least stop providing any government support for it’s production.

  39. 38
    Lu says:

    Would you really ban the production and sale of cigarettes, Ron?

  40. 39
    Robert says:

    Er, no. He would stop providing governmental support for its production. The huge tobacco crop subsidies, for example.

  41. 40
    Lu says:

    Maybe what should be done is to permit the manufacture of candy cigarettes in the U.S., and then ban the manufacture and sale of real cigarettes.

    Perhaps Ron could speak for himself?

  42. 41
    RonF says:

    An actual ban on the production and sale of tobacco is a fantasy I indulge in at times. Consider that it would be impossible to bring a new product with the same qualities to market under American law, and that products with far fewer harmful effects are currently banned. But if I had an actual choice I’d permit other products to come to market rather than ban tobacco; let adults make their own choices.

    OTOH, I think that realistically, the U.S. could and should cease any government support for tobacco production or distribution. Even to the point of subsidizing the conversion of tobacco farms to other crops.

  43. 42
    mythago says:

    let adults make their own choices

    I’m all for informed choices. The tobacco industry isn’t big on real information; it tends to scare off the customers.

  44. 43
    Lu says:

    Interesting, Ron. I think it depends what those other products are. (Does anyone here remember clackers? They were two plastic balls on strings that you could bang together rhythmically. For a couple of weeks in junior high it seemed like everyone but me had them — I think they came just before yo-yos on the fad chain — and then they were banned on the ground that the plastic balls might disintegrate on clacking and put someone’s eye out; at the time we were all convinced that this was just the best excuse the administration could think of, but I think they were eventually pulled from the market over safety concerns.) Then we’d have to talk about alcohol, and marijuana, medical or recreational, and Swiss Army knives, and… feh. I’m definitely with you on the subsidies, though.

    (For someone on the other side of the aisle, Ron, you hold an awful lot of opinions I agree with.)

    As for candy cigarettes (or tobacco gum, although I’d never even heard of it before this thread), I never intended to make the argument that “I had them when I was a kid and I don’t smoke, therefore they’re OK.” As Bonnie said so well upthread, parents have to use their best judgment and keep their fingers crossed. Restricting too much can backfire too. We sometimes indulge our daughter’s faddish whims, and sometimes don’t, on the theory that she needs to learn to tell the difference between yo-yos and binge drinking. (Although my Puritan ancestry did come out the other day when I told her she was some years away from wearing makeup to school. Apparently she was just running it up the flagpole, because she immediately wiped most of it off.)