Last updated April 2012
Cigarettes can have appeal to children in both real and fake forms. As discussed in Section 5.13.1, use of confectionery cigarettes in childhood has been associated with later uptake of smoking.1 Confectionery explicitly resembling cigarettes (such as the 'Fags', popular with Australian children in the 1970s and 1980s) or cigars is now banned by state/territory legislation.
In 2005, flavoured tobacco cigarettes appeared on the market in some Australian states and territories. Flavour and scent options in the DJ Mix brand included strawberry and green apple, with complementary packaging in shades of 'strawberry' pink and 'apple' green. The resemblance in flavour, smell and name to bubblegum and other products popular with children seems difficult to deny, as evidenced in an observed online chat room dialogue on an Australian website among young people comparing flavours of cigarettes they have tried and preferred.2 A US study among college students found that flavoured cigarettes elicited higher positive expectancies and fewer negatives than non-flavoured cigarettes among both smokers and non-smokers.3 Negative or non-pleasurable experiences of a first cigarette can deter or delay further experimentation and are a potentially powerful tool for prevention,4 adding weight to the imperative to monitor and regulate the palatability of cigarettes available in Australian (and overseas) markets.
As highlighted in a number of press releases issued by tobacco-control and health organisations around Australia when fruit brands first appeared in the Australian market, the argument that sweet or fruit flavoured cigarettes are targeted at long-term brand-loyal adult smokers lacks any credibility. Australian health ministers agreed to ban the sale and investigate banning the importation of flavoured cigarettes across Australia in 2008,5 (see Chapter 10, Section 8.4) citing concerns over the appeal to young people of flavoured cigarettes. While all states and territories have acted (or have plans to act) by banning overtly 'fruity or lolly' flavoured cigarettes, no ban has been introduced on menthol cigarettes or the long list of flavours added to almost all cigarettes/cigars on the market.
Novel flavoured cigarettes are discussed further in Chapter 10, Section 8.4. Their regulation and control is detailed in Chapter 12, Section 8.
The way cigarettes are packaged can also enhance their appeal to children and young people.6–8 In the late 1980s and 1990s, Australian state9–11 legislation sought to address the appealing size and price of 'kiddie' packs12 (still marketed in the UK and many other countries) and banned the sale of cigarettes in packets of fewer than 20. Deterring the visual appeal of tobacco to children has also been one of the strong precipitants for health warning labelling and graphic health warnings (see Chapter 12, Attachment 12.1) and most recently in Australia, in advocacy and legislative moves towards generic (plain) packaging (see Chapter 11, Section 11.10).
Relevant news and research
For recent news items and research on this topic, click here.(Last updated January 2021)
1. Klein J, Thomas R and Sutter E. History of childhood candy cigarette use is associated with tobacco smoking by adults. Preventive Medicine 2007;45(1):26–30. Available from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17532370
2. Various. kittyradio.com » community » the void » i love fruit flavoured cigarettes. 2007 viewed July 2007. Available from: http://www.kittyradio.com/soapbox/void/14454-i-love-fruit-flavoured-cigarettes.html
3. Ashare R, Hawk LJ, Cummings K, O'Connor R, Fix B and Schmidt W. Smoking expectancies for flavored and non-flavored cigarettes among college students. Addictive Behaviors 2007;32:1252-61. Available from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17030447
4. Eureka Strategic Research. Youth tobacco prevention research project. Undertaken for the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing. Canberra: Department of Health and Ageing, 2005. Available from: http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/phd-pub-tobacco-literature-cnt.htm
5. Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing. Tobacco. Australian cigarette ingredient disclosure. Canberra: Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing, 2011 [viewed 19 July 2011]. Available from: http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/tobacco-ingred
6. Doxey J and Hammond D. Deadly in pink: the impact of cigarette packaging among young women. Tobacco Control 2011;20(5):353-60. Available from: http://tobaccocontrol.bmj.com/content/20/5/353.short
7. Moodie C and Hastings GB. Making the pack the hero, tobacco industry response to marketing restrictions in the UK: findings from a long-term audit. International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction 2011;9(1):24-38. Available from: http://www.springerlink.com/content/r2116132350656k6/
8. Freeman B, Chapman S and Rimmer M. The case for the plain packaging of tobacco products. Addiction 2008;103(4):580-90. Available from: http://escholarship.org/uc/item/4rz0m70k#page-1
9. Tobacco Products Control Act 1986 (SA) — repealed. Available from: http://www.legislation.sa.gov.au/LZ/C/A/Tobacco%20Products%20Control%20Act%201986.aspx
10. Tobacco Act 1987 (Vic). Available from: http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/vic/consol_act/ta198773/
11. Tobacco Control Act 1990 (WA) — repealed. Available from: http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/wa/repealed_act/tca1990163/index.html
12. Wilson DH, Wakefield MA, Esterman A and Baker CC. 15's: they fit in everywhere--especially the school bag: a survey of purchases of packets of 15 cigarettes by 14 and 15 year olds in South Australia. Community Health Studies 1987;11(suppl.1):i16–20. Available from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3495401