Intended for healthcare professionals

Education And Debate

Do candy cigarettes encourage young people to smoke?

BMJ 2000; 321 doi: (Published 05 August 2000) Cite this as: BMJ 2000;321:362
  1. Jonathan D Klein (, associate professor of paediatricsa,
  2. Steve St Clair, attorney at lawb
  1. a Division of Adolescent Medicine, University of Rochester School of Medicine, Rochester NY 14642, USA
  2. b 1300 East Walnut Street, Des Moines, IA 50319, USA
  1. Correspondence to: J D Klein
  • Accepted 14 June 2000

Advocates of public health care consider candy cigarettes (cigarette sweets) one example of the way in which international trademark or copyright laws are violated to promote tobacco products to children.1 2 People with vested interests in confectionery and tobacco have denied these claims and argued that restrictions on confectionery resembling tobacco products are unnecessary. We review recently available documents from the tobacco industry, which describe cooperation between the manufacturers of tobacco and candy cigarettes, ineffectual trademark enforcement, evidence that candy cigarettes may promote smoking, suppression of unfavourable findings from research sponsored by the confectionery industry, and successful attempts to avoid legislation or regulation.

Summary points

Candy products that mimic packaging of tobacco brands may promote smoking in young people

Executives of both the tobacco and confectionery industries have regarded candy cigarettes as good advertising to future smokers

Some tobacco companies granted confectioners permission to use cigarette pack designs and tolerated trademark infringement

Children who have used candy cigarettes are more likely to become smokers

Unfavourable research sponsored by the US candy cigarette industry was suppressed

Elimination of candy cigarettes and other confectionery resembling tobacco products may help achieve public health goals of reducing tobacco use in young people


We searched for items referring to “candy cigarettes” and related terms from several sources. We identified public documents, government records, and journal articles by using Nexis to search news articles in English from 1980 to 1999. We also searched indexed documents from the files of American Tobacco, the Council for Tobacco Research, the Tobacco Institute, Lorillard, Philip Morris, R J Reynolds, and Brown and Williamson (collected at the Minnesota Tobacco Document Depository). Of 571 documents identified, most were summaries of proceedings of distributor associations for tobacco and confectionery containing no references to candy cigarettes; 153 documents addressed candy cigarettes, and these were analysed. …

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