Remembering Candy Cigarettes, Big Tobacco’s Most Evil Way to Turn Children Into Smokers

And how they disappeared from the kids’ Halloween loot.


Encouraging children to smoke? No, sir! Courtesy Robert Proctor

There was a time you’d think nothing of seeing young kids puffing on candy cigarettes. Parents would even hand them out on Halloween. Smoking was KOOL. “Just Like Daddy!” one candy ad promised. Hershey Corporation started the trend a century ago when it began hawking chocolate smokes, and by the 1920s, companies such as World Candies and Necco were selling a chalky white version. You could also get skinny bubble gum cigs in white paper tubes. Bonus: Blowing on them produced a little puff of gum-dust smoke.

All images courtesy of Robert Proctor

Big Tobacco often looked the other way as its names and logos popped up in candy aisles around the nation. “Not too bad an advertisement,” a lawyer for Brown & Williamson once conceded to a candymaker. Some tobacco execs even supplied art specs for use on candy packaging, notes Stanford historian Robert Proctor, who painstakingly details the industry’s evildoings in his 2012 book, Golden Holocaust.

Courtesy of Robert Proctor

It paid off, too: In a 2007 study that surveyed 25,000 people, researchers at the University of Rochester found that respondents who consumed candy cigarettes as kids were roughly twice as likely as those who hadn’t to report that they later became smokers. When tobacco companies eventually grew sensitive to negative PR and began policing their copyrights more aggressively, confectioners responded with a wink: “Marboro,” “Winstun,” “Kamel,” “Lucky Stripe.”

Courtesy of Robert Proctor

One state, North Dakota, actually outlawed candy cigarettes from 1953 to 1967, but federal lawmakers who tried the same were no match for Big Tobacco’s friends in Congress. In the end, didn’t matter. Following the massive tobacco settlements of the 1980s, which included restrictions on advertising and product placement, smoking became way less cool and candy cigs slowly disappeared from most stores on their own. You can still buy the fake cancer sticks online without the recognizable logos. Now they’re just “candy sticks.”

Courtesy of Robert Proctor

Courtesy of Robert Proctor

Courtesy of Robert Proctor

Courtesy of Robert Proctor

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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