posted on Oct, 16 2006 @ 01:14 AM
I dug up this thread because I remembered reading it and wanted to write a reply based on some things I had witnessed, and what I experienced
First and foremost, my argument is that I have reasons to suspect that "Big Tobacco" is pushing young people to get addicted to cigarettes in a way
that has thus far been overlooked, at least in the media outlets I consult.
I recalled about a year ago I read a story in a weekly newspaper somewhere here in lovely Massachusetts. I have done some online searching but can not
find it, I am not even sure what paper it was in. Anyhow, the story was about how young people were smoking Bidi style cigarettes (a variety that look
like a small cigar, basically a tobacco leaf with tobacco inside of it) because they were flavored, cheap, and easier to purchase than conventional
cigarettes. Evidently as these young people got older and were able to more easily purchase regular cigarettes without being asked for ID, they would
choose unfiltered brands. The story mainly focused on how the Bidi style cigarette was a stepping stone to smoking, and made a small mention at the
end about how unfiltered cigarettes were generally worse for one's health than filtered ones.
Strangely enough, a friend of mine who is in her mid-20s switched to unfiltered cigarettes from filtered ones a couple years ago. I never asked her
why, but now I wonder.
Well today I was waiting in line at a busy convenience store paying for some gas for the iron horse. In front of me in the line were a few girls who
could not have been more than 14 years old. I was not paying much attention to them but I overheard that they were pooling their money to buy
something. When they stepped up to the counter, one of them asked for a pack of Camel cigarettes. The clerk asked her for an ID and she used the
age-old excuse of "I left it at home." However the clerk recognized one of the other girls, and he said that he would sell her the cigarettes (I
wonder if this genius realized that is illegal if he suspects her companion was underage and was the actual person asking for cigarettes). He remarked
that she usually bought Bidis, and then gave her a pack of Camels. The girl looked at the pack and said in a voice full of disgust and attitude,
"these aren't unfiltered. We only smoke unfiltered. These ones aren't strong enough." The clerk then said he didn't stock that kind and the girls
left in a huff. Sure enough, the girls were waiting near the edge of the parking lot as mischievous youths are known to do, asking people if they'd
go into another nearby store and buy them the cigarettes (evidently they could not get away with it there). The girls asked me, so in turn I asked how
old they were, and the designated speaker said they were 13, 14, and 15. I gave her a brief lecture about smoking, then decided it was time to tell
her that I work for a local police department and I'd have no problem calling up the department in the city where this was and reporting these girls.
I am sure their parents would have been thrilled to hear how they were spending a Sunday afternoon. At which point the girls wisely walked away very
Anyhow...upon furthur reflection, it struck me that perhaps it is no accident that this is happening. The Bidis are packaged in crude-looking
packages, often printed with fancy designs and logos that make the mind wander to exotic places far away such as India. I have tended to think that
the foreign-looking proprietors of the convenience stores may have imported the Bidis from their home countries. But perhaps Big Tobacco is the real
source for Bidis and the popularity of unfiltered cigarettes. What I am saying is that I suspect that Big Tobacco figures they would first entice the
youth with the flavored Bidis, which I am sure provide a high dose of tar and nicotine themselves, and then "graduate" the now-addicted youth to
unfiltered (and more addictive) conventional cigarette brands. Since filtered cigarettes sell better than unfiltered (look at any tobacco story and
you always see brands like Marlboro and Newport mentioned), perhaps BT is counting on nobody to take much notice of the sales of unfiltered or
Just my two cents...if I hadn't seen it in person today, I may have never had this idea...