Archive for June, 2007

Candy Cigarettes: Simple Fun or Simply Dangerous?

Raise your hand if you rode the bus to elementary school. Me pick me! So, yes I rode the bus. I remember standing miserable in the cold and rain. I remember how one bus driver hated kids and was constantly threatening to, “Turn this bus around.� I remember the fights between growing boys. And I remember the smoking.

316897_cigarettes.jpg'' /hspace= The smoking! Yup smoking… In the fifth or sixth grade the “cool� boys started bringing candy cigarettes to the bus stop.

It seemed innocent enough; however, to morning commuters we probably looked anything but. A bunch of kids aged six through twelve standing around in a circle while bubble gum smoke swirled around our heads. Finally a parent commuter drove by and ended our smoking fun.

Good thing too because a recent study featured in the July issue of the journal Preventive Medicine reports that kids who ‘light up’ candy cigarettes are more likely to light up the real thing when they’re older.

Dr. Jonathan Klein, an associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Rochester, and lead researcher on the candy cigarettes and his team studied around 26,000 adults and found that 12% of adults who had never had a candy cigarette when they were young report adult smoking habits while 22% of adults who did have candy cigarettes as a youngster report adult smoking. Also the study showed that there was a correlation with the amounts of candy cigarettes people chewed down as a kid. As kids chew more their rates of adult smoking increase.

But why?
Klein says, “It allows the marketing that goes into tobacco advertising to operate on children long before they have access to cigarettes… these candy products promote smoking as a socially acceptable activity.”

Danny McGoldrick, research director for the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, brings up another point to consider. McGoldrick compares candy cigarettes with a kids learning curve. For instance first comes candy cigarettes, than with the cigarette companies coming out with flavored smokes, why not move on to that, and than on to the full blown real thing. It makes sense. I’ve heard many a teenagers state that cherry flavored or licorice flavored cigarettes must be safe because they don’t taste bad.

But are candy cigarettes even around anymore?
Well, I thought about that too. Personally, I thought that they’d been outlawed long ago. But they haven’t. They’re just a bit more underground. Now, with kids being so internet savvy, all it takes is a few clicks of a mouse and you can find oodles of chewy smokes on the web. I just did a few minutes ago. It was simple. Your kids will find them too.

So, make candy cigarettes just as off limits in your home as the real thing. But obviously that won’t stop the bus stop kid smoking parties. The best defense is to talk to your kids early about the dangers of tobacco and then practice what you preach.

To learn more about how to talk to your kids about tobacco visit Kids Health.

Posted in Uncategorized, Parenting, Alcohol and Other Drugs, Smoking | 2 Comments »

Birth Order and Sibling IQ


For years it’s been widely thought that genetics, not birth order determine IQ. However, a recent study in the journal Science (June 22) reports that first-born children are smarter than their younger siblings. The study, examined by, relates that first-born children have IQs that average 2.3 points higher than their younger siblings and that the findings hold true even in families where a first born dies and the second born is raised as the eldest.

Exciting news, if like me, you’re the eldest kid in a family of many. Yea me!
Still, I don’t think that we can completely count on our birth order as a one-way ticket to genius land and some scientists agree. Dr. Petter Kristensen, of the National Institute of Occupational Health in Oslo reports that IQ can make a difference because an IQ that’s even a couple of points higher can increase a child’s “educational potentialâ€? giving them an edge over younger siblings. In the long run though for an individual, “This effect is so small that it gives little predictive power.”

Case in point; I’m the oldest in my family. I have both a younger sister and younger brother. Which of the three of is the smartest? (This is where you say me). Just kidding, the real answer is that we’re all smart but in different ways. I read, draw, and create art projects constantly and was always considered the “artistic� or “creative� one in the family. My sister however always pulled through high school with a straight A average while I barely managed to get Cs because my “creative� brain wouldn’t let me sit still long enough to stay focused. My brother hates reading, yet excels at math and can fix anything you’ve got that needs fixing. All three of us have excelled in our very different chosen careers.

I suppose you could break my sibs and I down like this; creative smarts, book smarts, and practical smarts; although I see evidence of all three kinds of smarts in each of us at times. Frank J. Sulloway, a visiting scholar at the University of California, Berkeley, Institute of Personality and Social Research calls this “niche partitioning.” Basically this means that a first born comes along and fills a niche. For example I filled the creative niche. Then my siblings came along and because I had already filled the creative niche they decided to take on other, different roles.

When children in families can fill a certain niche it allows them to increase their chances of receiving personal attention within a busy family. Sulloway concludes that because of niche partitioning parents don’t need to worry about birth order or IQ; many issues make us who we are and determine success.

To learn more about birth order visit this site: Human intelligence: Historical influences, current controversies, teaching resources

Posted in Parenting, Lifestyles, Child Development | No Comments »