Marketing and Kids

Although I tend to prefer less regulation in many cases, the pictures below seem to call for a little more discussion about how products are marketed to kids. Candy in that mimics many of the attributes of adult products such as cigarettes probably makes it easier for a kid to think they ought to try the real thing and maybe soon. As I have noted before, the warning labels on cigarettes in other countries are quite a bit more stark (some simply state in large font “Smoking kills”.

As a trademark point, one might wonder whether an infringement action or maybe a dilution one would work. One might think cigarette makers have entered the cigarette entry market (Anyone remember Joe Camel?). Dilution by blurring may apply too, but a tarnishment claim may be more difficult as I think candy (absent those pesky four out of five dentists) is still seen as a step up from tobacco. All kidding aside, even if one argues that adults can make informed decisions, it seems to me that packaging candy to look quite similar to major cigarette brand packaging is an error. You make the call about these images and what, if anything, should be done.

The ones with cellophane wrapping look even more like a training kit to me.

Candy Cigarettes 2

Candy Cigarettes 3

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2 Responses

  1. geoff says:

    do you have any evidence to support your sense that candy cigarettes are a gateway drug, rather than a substitute? maybe stick with your anti-regulatory intuition.

  2. Deven says:


    Never said I did, and I don’t think I said something had to be done (the phrase “what. if anything, should be done” indicates the low-regulation idea). Nonetheless, it is a question to be considered. For now these products remind me of the Joe Camel issue. Perhaps that data or recent work on behavioral economics or decision making would support or undercut the claims about advertising. But if you are saying, don’t ask until you know, that position seems unwise. There probably is a relationship between advertising and how we choose. In the case of kids, we ought to be asking how that operates.