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Tobacco Sales to Minors in 97 US and Canadian Communities

Thomas E. Radecki and C. Dianne Zdunich
Tobacco Control
Vol. 2, No. 4 (Winter, 1993), pp. 300-305
Published by: BMJ
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20206915
Page Count: 6
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Tobacco Sales to Minors in 97 US and Canadian Communities
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Abstract

Objective: To establish a US and Canadian baseline of the willingness of merchants to sell tobacco products to minors and to encourage improved compliance with laws prohibiting the sale of tobacco to minors. Design: A sampling of 2337 retail tobacco merchants in 93 US and four Canadian communities were tested with 15- and 16-year-olds attempting to purchase cigarettes. Merchants in 11 US cities were retested 12 to 18 months later. Intervention: City, state, provincial, and national governments were notified of the results. Main outcome measures: Cigarette sales to minors. Results: The minors were able to purchase cigarettes at 77% of US and 93% of Canadian stores in the cities sampled. Cities with tobacco ordinances (n = 11) did better (average purchase rate = 49%) than those without (83%). Cities in states with laws prohibiting the sale of tobacco to minors under 16 and 17 years old tended to do worse and those with a 19-year-old limit tended to do better compared to those with an 18-year-old limit. Four city governments started or modified compliance check programmes because of the survey findings. Conclusion: It appears that merchants in very few communities in the US or Canadian cities tested are adequately complying with laws prohibiting tobacco sales to minors. Low-cost tobacco purchase surveys were of some value in stimulating enforcement, but change requires additional municipal, state and/or federal legislation and systematic and effective enforcement efforts.

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