Kids should not smoke, vape or use any tobacco products. It's a goal we share with public health, policy makers, parents, youth-serving organizations and many others who care about young people making healthy decisions.

Today, underage use of conventional tobacco products is at the lowest levels in a generation. In fact, the latest Monitoring the Future study estimates youth smoking rates to be 4.2 percent in 2020, an 85 percent reduction from its 1997 peak. FDA regulation covers nearly every aspect of how tobacco products are manufactured, marketed and sold. Retailer compliance rates with legal age of purchase laws have risen over the past 20+ years. Today, the compliance rates hover around 90 percent.

After an alarming rise in youth e-vapor rates in 2018 and 2019, we see early signs that this trend may be reversing – according to the 2020 National Youth Tobacco Survey, 13.1 percent of middle and high schoolers reported past 30 day e-vapor use, a decline from the 2019 peak of 20 percent.

Moving Beyond Smoking

While we recognize the progress, we understand the importance of tobacco manufacturers, regulators and policy-makers staying vigilant and acting collaboratively to prevent youth use of products intended for adults 21+.

Altria is committed to being part of the solution. Through our 2020 materiality assessment, our stakeholders reaffirmed their expectations that we continue to lead our industry in preventing underage use. The scope of our focus is intentionally broader than "preventing underage tobacco use".

Our 2025 Goals

  • Lead the industry in preventing underage use of products intended for adults 21+.
  • Contribute to the healthy development of youth ages 12 – 18.

We acknowledge the responsibility we have to shape positive outcomes for youth in preventing use across a broad range of for-adult product categories in our operating company and investment portfolios.

 

We also acknowledge the immediate opportunity in front of us:

  • to preserve the opportunity for adult tobacco harm reduction;
  • ensure youth use of traditional tobacco products remains at generational lows and continues to decline; and
  • prevent youth use of new-to market tobacco products intended for adults 21+.

 

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"Today, youth use of all traditional tobacco products is lower than it’s been since the government started tracking. This kind of progress takes a village – parents and caring adults, policymakers and regulators, public health experts, positive youth development organizations and manufacturers. And I am incredibly proud of Altria’s contributions over the past two decades."

Jennifer Hunter
Senior Vice President Corporate Citizenship, Altria Client Services


Our Strategy & Approach

For more than two decades, Altria's tobacco companies have made significant investments to prevent kids from using tobacco, guided by our Standards for Underage Use Prevention and underage tobacco prevention framework. These efforts include:

  • supporting programs and organizations that positively influence kids and their decision not to engage in risky behaviors like tobacco use;
  • providing parents with tools to help them raise kids who don't use tobacco;
  • supporting trade programs, retailer training and legislative efforts that help prevent underage access to tobacco products; and
  • taking steps designed to limit reach of their brands and marketing materials to unintended audiences.

 

Leadership Oversight & Compliance

Jennifer Hunter, Altria’s Senior Vice President Corporate Citizenship, has direct oversight for all of Altria’s enterprise responsibility efforts, including strategies for underage tobacco prevention. She reports directly to Altria’s CEO and provides regular updates to Altria’s executive leadership team on progress with respect to Altria’s underage tobacco prevention strategies and associated activity. Learn More

Accountability Infrastructure

To advance the Preventing Underage Use goals, we rely on established infrastructure, employee resources and shared accountability across a variety of business functions.

Standards for Underage Use Prevention 

In accordance with our Standards for Underage Use Prevention, each tobacco operating company and service company affiliate works to identify, support, develop and execute programs to help prevent underage use. Annual Underage Tobacco Prevention plans outline the concrete steps each operating company will take to help prevent underage tobacco use. 

In 2020, we updated these Standards to reflect our broader vision of success and codify our accountability infrastructure, consisting of Board oversight, Altria’s Underage Use Prevention Steering Committee and related expectations for future, potential strategic investments. 

Underage Tobacco Prevention Framework

Our underage tobacco prevention framework has served as an important anchor for how we contribute to reducing underage use rates of tobacco products.

Deepening Our Commitments Across the Framework

As our work to prevent underage tobacco use continues, we’re acutely focused on youth e-vapor use and deepening our efforts across:

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Foundational Research

Altria’s Underage Tobacco Use Survey will generate actionable information to inform our prevention and cessation strategies. 
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Responsible Marketing

Our companies' marketing approach is guided by our Vision and we must limit reach, access and appeal to unintended audiences.
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Policy Advocacy & Regulatory Engagement

Participating in the democratic process is vital to our business and stakeholders.
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Underage Access Prevention

Retailer compliance is critically important in preventing anyone under legal age from being able to access tobacco, including e-vapor products.
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Positive Youth Development

We’re guided by positive youth development theory which focuses on helping kids make healthy decisions and resist risky behaviors including tobacco use.

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Adopting Age Validation Technology at Retail

By providing hardware and tech-support, we are making age validation technology more accessible to many small chains and mom-and-pop stores.
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Collaborating for Retail Access Prevention Solutions

Our primary goals are to raise awareness around social source access and drive new retailer behaviors to continue to limit youth access to tobacco products at retail.
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The Evolution of Our Underage Prevention Grant Portfolio

Amber shares the ways Success360° aids in underage prevention through targeted grants and support of key nonprofits.

1Source: http://monitoringthefuture.org/data/19data/19drtbl7.pdf
 *For e-cigarettes, 2017 and prior years are not comparable due to methodological changes.

2Source: https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2019/1205-nyts-2019.html
Note: Any tobacco product use is past 30-day use of cigarettes, cigars, smokeless tobacco, electronic cigarettes, hookahs, pipe tobacco, and/or bidis on ≥1 day in the past 30 days.
Note: For smokeless tobacco, 2015 and prior years data are not comparable due to methodological changes into 2015. In 2015 smokeless tobacco includes chewing tobacco/snuff/dip, snus, and dissolvable tobacco because of limited sample sizes. Prior to 2015, smokeless tobacco included only chewing tobacco/snuff/dip.
Note: In 2014 and 2015, modifications were made to the e-cigarette measure to enhance its accuracy, which may limit the comparability of these estimates to those collected in previous years. The dotted lines from 2013 to 2018 represent these differences.

3Source: https://www.samhsa.gov/sites/default/files/synar_program_rvr_table_1997-2018_dec_11_2018.pdf

4Source: ALCS analysis of FDA PATH Wave 4 Study (Oct 2016 – Oct 2018) Youth 12-17
Note: Each bar represents responses given by past 30-day users of the listed tobacco product and shows the percentages reporting each method as their usual method to access that tobacco product.