Honolulu Lite

Charles Memminger

Pineapple cigarettes?
Can tobacco smoothies
be next?

The scary thing about Camel putting out a pineapple-and-coconut-flavored cigarette named Kauai Kolada is not that it unfairly ties in the "healthy isles" with a known cancer-causing product, but that Jamba Juice might market a tobacco-flavored smoothie.

In my young and foolish days, I was known to partake of nicotine from time to time, but I never confused my body into thinking that cigarettes were a good thing. My body was a finely tuned trash compactor, but even it could tell the difference between a banana and a chemical-laden nicotine delivery system that has to be set aflame to do its business.

That's why you rarely see people smoking a cigarette and eating an apple at the same time. The two activities just don't go together. Apples go with milk or orange juice. Cigarettes go with beer or whiskey. It's some kind of law of nature.

Or was. Now, cigarette manufacturers are trying to attract young people to smoking by combining the healthful attributes of fruits with the deadly attributes of tobacco. The tobacco manufacturers say they aren't selling candy- and fruit-flavored cigarettes specifically to attract America's youth to smoking, but that's a lie. No self-respecting adult smoker would put a cigarette to their lips that tastes like kumquats. Cigarettes are nasty, smelly things, and they are supposed to taste that way. If you are dumb enough to indulge in a product whose nicknames are "cancer sticks" and "coffin nails," you don't want to find yourself engulfed in a cloud of essence of peach. The young and stupid are the only beings who would even consider smoking a cigarette that tastes like pineapple and coconut.

And that's what Camel is banking on. The fact is, a lot of grown-ups are finally recognizing the dangers of smoking and are kicking the habit. The future for tobacco companies is all those young, healthy pink lungs out there.

Now, generally, I believe you should let people ruin their lives in whatever manner they see fit. As W.C. Fields said, "Never wise up a chump." But the target consumers of Kauai Kolada, Midnight Berry and Mocha Taboo cigarettes aren't even old enough to vote yet.

Considering the tobacco companies just paid millions of dollars to states, including Hawaii, in a lawsuit to get them to stop marketing cigarettes to young people by using cartoon characters like Joe Camel to push their product, it's pretty amazing they'd turn around and start selling cute candy-flavored cancer sticks.

Gov. Linda Lingle is particularly peeved that they would name one of the stealth health-breakers after one of our islands and put pictures of hula girls on the pack, too. If Kauai Kolada catches on, will Maui Mango, Big Isle Banana and Honolulu Haupia cigs be next?

Lingle asked Camel to snuff out the Kauai Kolada line of cigarettes because Hawaii isn't about unhealthy habits like smoking. It's about gorging on kalua pork, mayo-laden macaroni salad, chicken long rice and Spam until you can barely drag yourself down to a beach mat and pass out.

Actually, I don't think the governor has to worry too much. Even the young won't go for fruit-flavored cigarettes any more than they'd go for tobacco smoothies and cigar-flavored shave ice.

See the Columnists section for some past articles.

Charles Memminger, the National Society of Newspaper Columnists' 2004 First Place Award winner for humor writing, appears Sundays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. E-mail



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