“Our findings suggest the need for intensive monitoring, oversight, and support to help retailers comply with existing and new cigarette laws,” said Diana Silver, associate professor of public health at NYU Steinhardt and the study’s lead author.
On August 1, 2014, New York City raised the minimum purchase age for cigarettes from 18 to 21. The new law is intended to decrease current smoking rates among youth and prevent them from starting to smoke.
“One benefit of restricting tobacco sales to those 21 and older is that it makes it more difficult for younger high school students to rely on friends who have turned 18 to purchase cigarettes for them,” said Silver. “Reducing access to such ‘social sources’ offers the potential to make progress in reducing smoking among teens.”
New York City also has the highest cigarette taxes in the country, a combination of local and state taxes, resulting in minimum prices for cigarettes of $11.02 and above.
“Given evidence of price sensitivity among young smokers, taxes are particularly effective in decreasing smoking initiation even as tobacco companies use discounts to buffer price increases,” said Silver.
The study examined compliance with minimum sales price and purchase age laws among retailers in New York City in advance of raising the legal age for buying cigarettes from 18 to 21. Ten youthful looking field investigators, ages 18 to 21, purchased cigarettes from different types of retailers in 92 retail dense neighborhoods throughout all five boroughs. In 421 purchases, investigators noted the price for cigarettes and whether they were asked for identification.
The researchers found that in 29 percent of purchases, retailers did not require identification to buy cigarettes. In 70 percent of neighborhoods sampled, the investigators were able to buy at least one pack of cigarettes somewhere in the area without being asked for identification.
Chain stores had significantly higher odds of complying with minimum age laws than independent vendors investigators were 32 times more likely to be asked for identification at chains.
Despite variation in price across New York City, only 3 percent of sales were at prices below the minimum legal sales price for cigarettes. Chain stores had, on average, lower prices than independent vendors, and cigarette prices were significantly higher in Manhattan compared with other boroughs.
While the investigation was conducted before the new minimum legal purchase age increased to 21, the researchers concluded that a lack of consistent identification checks for cigarette purchases could undermine the new law.
“Active monitoring of compliance with the new minimum legal purchase age will be necessary in order to realize the new law’s public health potential,” said Silver.
In addition to Silver, study authors include Jin Yung Bae, Geronimo Jimenez, and James Macinko. The Institute for Human Development and Social Change at NYU funded the study.
Us minors easily buy e-cigarettes online: unc study – channel newsasia
NEW YORK Teenagers in North Carolina who try to buy electronic cigarettes online are likely to succeed even though selling the devices to minors is illegal in the state, researchers reported on Monday.
A 2013 North Carolina law required that online e cigarette sellers verify customers’ ages with a government database at the point of order. But more than 90 percent of vendors do not comply, researchers led by Rebecca Williams of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill found.
“It is likely easier for many teens to buy e cigarettes online than in a corner store, where they might be faced with a request for ID,” Williams said.
The situation is likely similar in other states, she added.
While 41 states ban e cigarette sales to minors, “they tend to focus on face to face sales,” imposing fewer or no restrictions for online sales, said Camille Gourdet, a health policy researcher at the University of Illinois at Chicago who was not involved in the study.
North Carolina is one of the few states that address remote sales, she said, and vendors shipping to minors there could be charged with a class 2 misdemeanor.
For the study, published online in JAMA Pediatrics, researchers supervised 11 teens ages 14 to 17 as they attempted to buy e cigarettes online 98 times. They succeeded 75 times 18 failures had to do with broken websites or payment processing.
Only five failures resulted from age verification measures such as requesting a social security number and date of birth, meaning 94 percent of the vendors failed to vet ages properly.
Other sites had some form of age verification, though they were ineffective, such as check boxes. None required drivers license numbers at the time of purchase.
“Without strictly enforced federal regulations, online e cigarette vendors have little motivation to decrease profits by spending the time and money it takes to properly verify customers’ age and reject underage buyers,” Williams said via e mail.
The packages were delivered by the U.S. Postal Service, United Parcel Service Inc, DHL Worldwide Express, or FedEx Corp, which do not ship traditional cigarettes to consumers under their own policies or federal regulation. None attempted to verify consumer age, and almost all left the packages at the door.
No federal law restricts e cigarette shipping.
(Reporting by Kathryn Doyle Editing by Sharon Begley and Dan GRebler)