Understanding How Kids Get Tobacco Products
In the mid-1990's, the most common way kids obtained tobacco products was by buying them in a retail store. During that time, four out of 10 retailers failed to turn away underage purchasers. Since then, retailers have worked hard to limit underage access by implementing rigorous age verification programs like We Card. In fact, 90 percent of stores are upholding minimum age laws7.
More work, remains. Government data shows social sources - like friends and siblings – continue to be the most frequent way kids get tobacco products8. That's why we require retailers participating in our companies’ trade programs to place signs reminding adults to not buy tobacco products for kids.
Manufacturers and retailers cannot address this issue alone.
With federal regulation in place, the FDA has the opportunity to do more to address social source access and we encourage them to do so. In 2016, we engaged with the Office of Health Communications and Education at the Center for Tobacco Products on underage social access to tobacco products. We shared suggestions to address the issues, including an FDA led public education campaign dissuading adults from buying tobacco products for those underage. Doing so would complement the FDA’s current efforts to encourage kids to not use tobacco products. .