The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

December 29, 2012

Ojanpa: Candy cig bans just blow smoke

MANKATO — Scapegoating is often the first cousin of fuzzy logic.

Which brings us to candy cigarettes, and the recent busting of a retro ma and pa soda fountain in St. Paul.

Unbeknownst to the shop owners, selling candy cigs is against the law in St. Paul. They were outlawed by the City Council in 2009 at the behest of some local teens involved in anti-smoking efforts.

Science has shown that the human brain isn’t fully developed until people reach their early 20s, so the teens can be excused for their misguided zealotry.

The City Council members, their brains presumably ensconced in adulthood, should have known better. But I’m guessing the kids’ passion and sincerity held sway over prudent governance. Hey, these things happen.

Candy cigarettes and their confectionary kin — bubble gum cigars and pouched, shredded gum resembling chewing tobacco — are among the nostalgic candy offerings of a different time.

The key word there is nostalgia, because these days about the only people desiring candy cigarettes are us graybeards, who buy them as a wistful lark along with Black Jack gum, candy buttons and those little wax bottles of sickly sweet “pop.”  

A pack of candy cigs to a contemporary 8-year-old probably has just a tad more allure than the stuck-together hard candy at great-grandma’s house.

Even so, there are skittish, wrongheaded factions among us who have no problem making a causal link between sticks of white peppermint candy and pack-a-day Marlboro smokers.

Contending that the object of a child’s sweet tooth is the gateway drug to nicotine addiction is like saying that swigging a root beer at 11 leads to downing 12-packs of Coors at 31, or eating chocolate bunnies at Easter will turn you into a rabbit-stew fiend.

Want to discourage kids from smoking in a far more effective way? Try this for starters: Cut out the gratuitous, incessant smoking scenes in movies.

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