Bend's newest store, Powell's Sweet Shoppe on Wall Street, is a delight for kids and grownups alike: a treat for the eyes and the spirit. Yet it hits a sour note with the inclusion of candy cigarettes on its shelves.
The owner, Matt McCall, told me that although he is a franchisee, the decision to sell cigarettes was a personal one. "People like them for the nostalgia," he claimed.
Is he unfamiliar with research showing the correlation between candy cigarettes and the creation of smokers? ("Candy Cigarettes May Encourage Future Smoking." Science Digest. June 2007.) Doesn't he understand the complicity of the tobacco companies in using this candy to develop new customers? ("Tobacco Industry Saw Benefit in Promoting Candy Cigarettes." University of Rochester Medical Center Report. August 2000.) Is it possible to be unaware that smoking causes emphysema, heart disease, and lung cancer? And not to know that smoking is the number one preventable cause of death? Or doesn't it matter? Maybe our kids are important only as small sources of revenue, period.
I told Mr. McCall that I didn't think parents would appreciate his reckless marketing of "nostalgic" poison to their children. "That's your opinion," he said.
If it is your opinion, too, please join me in urging him to remove the cigarettes from his store: Please, sir, won't you be a responsible merchant and help to safeguard the children in your community? After all, even Wal-Mart refuses to sell candy cigarettes.
Toni Weir, Bend