Sweet Cigarettes: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

Sweet Cigarettes


Finally, there’s a cigarette even nonsmokers might give a shot. Make way for sweet cigarettes, where sweetness meets nostalgia. Remember the Phantom sweet cigarettes that were a rage back in our growing days? However, there’s more to these sweet treats than just sugar and memories. Let’s explore all things cigarette candies to keep you informed.  

What are Sweet Cigarettes?

They are exactly what they mean, candies that look like cigarettes. Call them fake cigarettes, fake cigarette candies, candy sticks, candy stix, sweet cigarette candies, or simply sweet cigarettes all mean the same. Like normal candies, they are made of chalky sugar, bubblegum, or chocolate, depending on the brand. However, their elongated shape, mimicking a real cigarette, sets them apart. Some brands even go to the extent of hiding powdered sugar in the wrapper to let users blow into the sweet cigarette. The result? A sugar cloud mimicking smoke at the other end.

Sweet Cigarette: Ingredients

Despite brand-specific tweaks, sugar rules the roost in all cigarette candies, shaping them and adding that signature sweetness. Artificial food dyes, such as cochineal or brilliant blue swoop in, mimicking paper and turning these candies into sweet replicas of the real deal. The flavors can be cherry, strawberry, chocolate, or bubblegum. Some sweet treats might even sport powdered sugar or edible starches to create an ash fallout vibe when you give them a puff. 

Ingredient Role
Sugar The base material that shapes and sweetens 
Cocoa Powder  Cocoa solids and emulsified cocoa butter for that chocolaty kick
Food Colors Artificial dyes (cochineal, erythrosine, and more) to mimic paper hues
Flavors Cherry, strawberry, bubblegum, and more for flavor explosion
Dusting Powders  Powdered sugar or edible starches for a hint of ash when you puff 

Sweet Cigarettes: History

These types of cigarettes hit the scene in the 19th century, made of bubblegum, sugar, or chocolate. They were slyly crafted to mimic real cigarettes as closely as possible, even down to the powdered sugar inside that lets you puff out sugar clouds instead of smoke. Back then, folks were not fully aware of how bad cigarettes were for you, and candy cigarettes seemed cool. Companies even threw slogans like “Just Like Dad” to reel the kiddos. Kids wanted to copy their grown-up folks, and puffing on candy cigarettes felt like the ticket to sophistication and adulthood.

Guess what? The tobacco companies and candy cigarette makers teamed up. Tobacco big shots even let candy cigarette makers borrow their branding. Notably, Brown & Williamson was all in, sending copies of their labels to these candy creators. But then, in ’64, the Surgeon General’s report called out candy cigs for trying to hook kids on smoking. Suddenly, tobacco giants started distancing themselves from the sweet imitations, a trend that still holds strong. The sweet cigarette sizes, however, have changed a bit due to changing customer preferences and commercial reasons.  

Image Courtesy: Stanford

Why Kids Love Sweet Cigarettes? The Good

Why were you drawn towards Phantom sweet cigarettes and the like during your younger days? Even though times have changed, the reasons for their popularity remain more or less the same.

1. Pretend Play:

These candies look like real cigarettes, adding a fun pretend-play vibe that kids find interesting.

2. Cool and Different:

Their cool and different look catches the eye of curious kiddos.

3. Colorful and Yummy:

Vibrant colors and flavors that blast in your mouth make them irresistible.

4. Peer Pressure:

If their buddies use these candies, kids might want to give them a shot to be part of the cool crew.

5. Easy on the Pocket:

Fake cigarettes are cheaper than branded candies – a major draw. 

6. Nonsmoking Aid:

While the effectiveness is disputed, some grown-ups also use sweet cigarette candy to give up smoking. 

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Health Risks of Sweet Cigarettes: The Bad

Let’s face it. These fake cigarettes are not all sunshine and rainbows. Herein, sugar replaces tobacco as a major health hazard. Excessive sugar intake can mess with those pearly whites, causing cavities. Worst still, excessive sugar exposes your young ones to hyperactivity, obesity, and type 2 diabetes. Even those artificial flavors and colorful dyes can be a health hazard. They cling to the DNA and proteins inside cells to trigger the body’s inflammatory response and cause colon and rectal conditions. Remember, damaged DNA is a prime cause of colorectal cancer. Also, powdered sugar and starch particles, when inhaled, can harm the lungs, especially in children with asthma or other respiratory issues.

Ingredients Side-effects 
Sugar  Linked to cavities, hyperactivity, obesity, and type 2 diabetes in young ones
Artificial Additives Cling to DNA and proteins to trigger inflammatory responses, and cause colon issues and even cancer

An Entryway to Nicotine Dependence: The Ugly

Image Courtesy: Stanford

When any candy poses similar health risks, why single out sweet cigarettes? Well, no other confectionery product can plant some positive ideas about smoking in kids. Kids who experiment with fake cigarettes are more likely to take up smoking later in life. These easily available and harmless-looking candies desensitize kids and do away with cigarette-related inhibitions, making them prone to nicotine dependence. It isn’t hearsay but a well-researched fact.

1. Klein et al, “Candy Cigarettes: Do They Encourage Children’s Smoking?,” Pediatrics, 2011

In a 13-year longitudinal study following 1,400 6th graders into early adulthood, those who reported using candy cigarettes were 2.1 times more likely to become cigarette smokers upon achieving adulthood.

2. D’Silva et al, “Candy Cigarette Use Among US Children”, Tobacco Control, 2012

Upon analyzing data from a national survey with over 13,000 subjects, the study reports that cigarette candy users aged 6-15 were 2-3 times more likely to try real cigarettes in the following year.

3. Dr. Jonathan Klein, “History of Childhood Candy Cigarette Use is Associated with Tobacco Smoking by Adults” 2008

Adult smokers were more likely to report having used candy cigarettes as children compared to non-smokers (22% vs 12%). The study also indicates a dose-response effect as well – the more often children played with candy cigarettes, the higher their eventual chances of real smoking.

4. Other Related Research Findings:



Center For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Found usage of candy cigarettes doubled the probability of established cigarette smoking among adults who had ever used these candies as kids.
Asthma & Allergy Foundation of America Survey reports indicating about 67% of children who play with candy sticks go on to become cigarette smokers later.
BMC Public Health study (2013) Meta-analysis and systematic review covering over 300,000 subjects across multiple studies found 2-3 fold higher odds of smoking associated with prior candy cigarette usage.
Pediatrics study (2010) Children exhibiting candy cigarette usage are more likely to develop tobacco addiction as adults and are less receptive to preventive education.
Journal of Pediatrics, Cancer Prevention Study (1992) Male children who owned candy cigarette merchandise were found to have much higher rates of adult smoking compared to non-users

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Legal Status:

Several countries have woken up to the potential risks of sweet cigarettes, hence bans. These include: 

Australia Brazil Bahrain Chile Finland Ireland
Kuwait Netherlands New Zealand Norway Oman Philippines
Portugal Qatar Saudi Arabia South Africa South Korea Spain
Sweden Thailand Turkey United Arab Emirates United Kingdom

However, the below-mentioned countries allow candy cigarette sales, some with certain branding restrictions. For instance, the USA and Canada prohibit candy cigarette branding resembling real cigarettes, and vice versa. 

Austria Bangladesh Canada Denmark France Germany
India Indonesia Japan Pakistan Switzerland USA

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Top Sweet Cigarette Brands in India:

On the note that sweet cigarettes are unhealthy and an entryway to nicotine addiction, let’s explore the top brands. We don’t recommend these sugary delights to kids, but you can try them to relive those cherished childhood memories.

1. Phantom Sweet Cigarettes

Make way for the most popular sweet cigarette brand we all have grown up eating. Phantom Sweet Cigarettes is a premium offering of Harnik General Foods, a Pune-based confectioner. Founded by N.L. Hingorani, a food scientist, Harnik has been manufacturing and exporting instant food mixes, desserts, and confectionery items since 1973. 

Phantom Sweet Cigarettes are known for their delectable taste that takes us back into our childhood. The mint taste lingers in your mouth for that refreshing aftertaste. These sweet cigarettes candy pack a punch with 80 percent sugar and 20 percent glucose and gelatin. So, they “are not the safest things for those even on the brink of diabetes.” 

Phantom sweet cigarettes resemble real cigarettes with an elongated white body and a reddish tinge tip to give out the illusion of a flame. You can find it at your nearest general store. However, if you cannot, feel free to buy Harnik Phantom sweet cigarettes online. Read More: Phantom Sweet Cigarettes: 15 Facts You Need to Know!

Phantom Sweet Cigarettes Ingredients

Sugar  Corn Syrup  Cornflour
Gelatin (animal origin) Synthetic food colors (e-124, e-133) Added flavors

Phantom Sweet Cigarettes Price:

INR 10 for a pack of 10 sticks, subject to the vendor, region, and other factors.

2. Hugs Howzatt Sweet Cigarettes:

While Phantom Cigarette Candy holds the top spot, Hugs Howzatt follows closely behind. It is a flagship of Shellz, one of the top-rated confectionery and beverage makers since 2012. Given the company’s growing nationwide presence, Hugs Howzatt fake cigarettes are easily available at online and brick-and-mortar stores across India.

Hugs Howzatt cigarette candies mimic an unlit cigarette with a yellowish filter and elongated white body. The reddish tip is missing here. They are mildly sweet with a tinge of bitterness, thanks to the presence of Citric Acid (E-330). These sticks are completely vegetarian and feature glucose powder for that instant energy boost.


Glucose Powder Sugar Malts Dextrin Citric Acid (E-330)
Synthetic Colours (E-102, E-110, E-133) Anticaking Agent (E470) Artificial Flavoring  Zero trans fats


INR 180 for a box of 36 packs, according to the company website.

3. Hugs Ciggy Wiggy Sweet Cigarettes:

The Delhi-based confectionery company, Shellz spoils you for choice with an alternative to Hugs Howzatt. Ciggy Wiggy is a “healthy” treat, featuring 92% glucose, alongside sugar, minerals, and vitamins. The company markets the product to kids, sports buffs, or anyone with an active lifestyle. Trust me, it is sweeter, more consistent, and better-tasting than Howzatt. Shape-wise, the sticks resemble real cigs with a yellow filter but their hexagonal shape is a bit odd. 


Glucose Powder Sugar Malts Dextrin Citric Acid (E-330)
Synthetic Colours (E-102, E-110, E-133) Anticaking Agent (E470) Artificial Flavoring  Zero trans fats


INR 120 for a box of 24 packs, according to the company website.

4. World’s King Size Candy:

Pure white delicious sugar shaped as elegant cigarettes – that’s the World’s King Size Candy for you. The product has been manufactured by Nassau Candy, a New York-based manufacturer, importer, and distributor of wholesale candy and specialty food for the past 80 years. If reviews are something to go by, buyers use them to quit smoking. Well, we take it with a pinch of salt. However, available in 8 sticks per pack and with vintage branding, they are a great gag gift.


Dextrose Corn starch Corn Syrup Tapioca Beef Gelatin Artificial Flavors


INR 516 plus international shipping

5. Barratt Candy Sticks:

Think of Barratt Candy Sticks as the UK’s equivalent to Phantom Sweet Cigarettes. These were favorite school-day treats for a couple of generations until candy cigarettes’ popularity dipped. The product is a flagship of the UK-based Barratts, the masterminds behind Black Jacks and Fruit Salads. Now, they’ve dropped the ‘sweet cigarettes’ label. However, they’re still bursting with natural colors and flavors. Guess what? They come in pineapple-flavor too.


Sugar Corn flour Glucose Syrup Palm Oil
Modified Tapioca starch Beef Gelatine Artificial Flavouring


£2.25 for 5 packs

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So, that was the good, the bad, and the ugly of sweet cigarettes. While these sugary treats may evoke nostalgia and provide a momentary treat, balancing the enjoyment with a clear understanding of the associated health hazards is essential. Just like any candy, they might expose your young ones to tooth decay, diabetes, obesity, and more. What makes them threatening, however, is their role as a gateway to youth initiation into smoking. So, let’s prioritize our well-being and make informed choices. Remember, the sweetness of these treats shouldn’t overshadow the health concerns they carry. Your feedback is highly anticipated and appreciated. 


1. What are Sweet Cigarettes?

Any candy that mimics a real cigarette in appearance can qualify as a sweet cigarette.

2. Which is the leading Sweet Cigarette Brand in India?

Since 1873, Harnik Phantom has been hands down the leading brand.

3. Are Phantom Sweet cigarettes non-veg?

Yes. The maker, Harnik General Foods, specifically mentions the use of animal-derived gelatin on the product pack.

4. What is the sweet cigarette price in India?

Prices vary from brand to brand but fake cigarettes are cheaper than branded candies.

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Feature Image by azerbaijan_stockers on Freepik