Hmm, maybe a bit more edgy of my comics… Anyways, this is a response a commercial I saw running on the Cartoon Network (or one of those channels). See, the commercial was for this Mint Snuff stuff that’s supposed to be like chewing tobacco but mint instead. That’s all fine and good if you’re into that sort of thing, but the snuff is obviously a “candy version” of the tobacco stuff… and if that’s not gross enough, the commercial featured 2 singing beaver puppets… on a kids’ channel… Starting to see my problem here? It’s basically selling a candy tobacco product to kids.
So that’s my issue. I don’t have any problem with people who smoke or drink or do whatever they want… AS ADULTS. For kids, um, no. It’s not selling the effect of the products, it’s selling the behavior of using them. What I mean is this: it’s like selling soda in beer bottles to kids so they can pretend that they’re drinking beer. Now, when the time comes for them to make choices about whether to use the real thing or not, guess what decision they’ll make? That’s why they are no longer allowed to sell tobacco products with cartoon characters geared towards children (remember Camel Cigarettes?). Yeah, worked for a while didn’t it? But this is totally different, yet, the same kind of sleazy marketing tactic. Like I said, it’s selling the behavior… as in, candy cigarettes (which they don’t sell anymore… unless you go to specialty candy shops and they’re usually called something else). It sells the behavior of smoking, so that when the child is confronted to choose between taking a puff or not, his or her decision could be influenced by previous experiences playing with the fake version… thus… that threshold of “this is a bad idea” gets lowered. Hope that all makes sense.
But then again, maybe I shouldn’t be too overly distraught… I mean, we’ve had this kind of junk for a while now; like candy cigarettes & cigars and bubblegum “big league chew” (which fools none of us, it’s so kids can imitate their baseball “heroes” that chew tobacco). Hell, I remember as a child, the other kids would take pixi sticks and make a line of it on the desk, cut off both ends of the paper tube, and sniff it up their noses. At the time, I just thought they were all idiots… but as an adult and writing this, it seems a bit more disturbing. I mean, where the heck did they see that activity to emulate? Maybe TV, don’t think there was much to the FCC back in the day. Anyways, point being… where is the line when it’s too far? I know they got rid of those candy cigarettes, but what of these other forms of tobacco? What stops them from making candy heroin? How bout we lick some candy coated acid stamps too? I know tobacco isn’t an illegal substance, but still, I see very little distinction between marketing the behavior of using a legalized drug to children and marketing the same thing with hard drugs. It’s just trying to wash the poor little impressionable brains of kids. And really, cartoons do enough of that already, we don’t need any more help from the tobacco companies.