I never had any really terrible vices as a teenager. I never wagged school so that I could sit behind some wee-stained toilet block and drown my lungs in tobacco and illegal strains of herbs. I never stood outside the local bottle-o and begged some smelly stranger to buy me a six-pack of Stolis so that I could stumble to the park and wake up in a disused building site. I never went to a nightclub and bought an expensive little tablet from some weedy kid in a baseball cap.
It wasn’t because I was a saint or because I was suffering from some kind of early-onset levelheadedness. It was simply because I already had access to a legal, cheap and highly additive substance: sugar.
My thinking was something like this: why put myself in a sleazy, dark and potentially life-threatening environment, when I could just stage my own private protest against the world by consuming an extra-long packet of Tim Tams, from the comfort of my bean bag?
This brings me to the chocolate cigarette. Could there be a better confectionary product that symbolises teenage rebellion? It’s got everything. It’s cheap, it’s legal to 'smoke' and it doesn't make you want to cough up your liver. The problem is, that whilst real cigarettes are dangerous to your health, it can be equally unwise to eat a packet a day of the fake ones.
So what is the answer?
- Do we need ‘candy crime squads’ who conduct random searches of teenager’s bedrooms?
- Do we need to hold ‘snack food interventions’ for kids who abuse the family biscuit tin?
- Do we need to create slow-releasing fructose patches a teenager can wear as they wean themselves off the cola?
Personally, I would say that all a teenager with a reckless sugar habit needs is lots of compassion and a few healthy role models. And if that doesn’t work, you can at least write to the person who invented the chocolate cigarette and tell them that their product should come with highly graphic and disturbing health warnings.
Text © Jessica Rosman 2015