The St. Paul, Minnesota city council unanimously voted in 2009 to outlaw cartoon character lighters and candy that resembled cigarettes. Unfortunately, a small shop in St. Paul didn’t get the memo and had candy “cigarettes” in stock as well as gum shaped like cigars and chewing tobacco. The candy cigarettes were their biggest sellers. The Star Tribune reported that a city official visited the store a little over a week ago and instructed them to get rid of all the candy that looked like tobacco products:
“Lynden’s, on Hamline Avenue near Cretin-Derham Hall High School, said a city inspections official came in last week and gave the shop a warning and added that a misdemeanor citation — with a $500 fine — would be next if the non carcinogenic confections continue to be sold.”
City bureaucrats cited some study that showed early exposure to candy that is supposed to resemble cigarettes only encourages kids to start smoking. The fact that real cigarette smokers are everywhere, and that real cigarettes are sold in grocery stores and gas stations has nothing to do with kids growing up and wanting to smoke cigarettes. It’s the candy’s fault. Give me a break.
The shop owner said that most people buying the cigarette-shaped candy were adults who remembered them in their youth and would buy them out of nostalgia. I remember having them as a kid too. I even remember pretending to smoke them (gasp!). That was the point. In spite of my “exposure” to such candy and the fact that I’ve been around real cigarette smokers my entire adult life, I’ve never picked up the habit. But if I did, I would credit it not to the candy that I was exposed to as a kid, but to friends and family who smoked around me. Ultimately, however, it would be my own fault if I decided to start smoking.
These kinds of laws are silly, but I’m glad they’re not national laws. I remember when a bill was passed here in Georgia a few years ago that outlawed the sale of marijuana-flavored candy like “Pot Suckers” to minors. Now, I’ve never tasted marijuana, but I have smelled it, and if it tastes anything like it smells, I don’t think I would ever want to try candy that was flavored like it. But, some company thought there might be a market for them, so they tried it. Ironically, the bill banning such candy was pushed in the senate by a state senator named Doug Stoner.
The Georgia law banning the candy said that the candy “promoted drug use.” But really, how are these drug and tobacco themed products much different from Coca-Cola, which originally used a substantial amount of cocaine in their drink recipe? It’s true that now, they use cocaine-free coca leaf extract, but since “it’s the thought that counts,” Coca-Cola drinks should be outlawed because they “encourage cocaine use.”