Candy and bubble gum cigarettes are packaged to resemble cigarette brands, and so they may encourage young children to smoke. Two studies of the role of these products in the development of children's attitudes and behaviors toward smoking were conducted. In the first study, six focus group interviews were conducted with 25 children in three age groups (4 through 5, 6 through 8, and 9 through 11 years old). Children in each group were shown five candy and snack foods and asked about their opinions and experiences with each item. In the second study, 195 seventh-grade students in a southeastern city school system were surveyed about their cigarette smoking and candy cigarette use. In the focus groups, candy cigarettes were recognized by most children. Young children played with the candy cigarettes more than with other candy or snack items and made general references to smoking behaviors. Older children made favorable references to smoking behavior; most knew which stores sold candy cigarettes, and many had chosen to buy and use these items, despite parental disapproval. Candy cigarettes may play a role in the development of children's attitudes toward smoking as an acceptable, favorable, or normative behavior. Elimination of these products should be part of efforts to prevent initiation of smoking by children.
- Received December 3, 1990.
- Accepted April 4, 1991.
- Copyright © 1992 by the American Academy of Pediatrics