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Youth Access to Tobacco Products in the United States, 2016-2018

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Objectives: In 2018, approximately 4.9 million US middle and high school students reported past 30-day use of any tobacco product. This study describes how and where youth obtained tobacco products and whether refusal of sale occurred during 2016-2018. Methods: Data from 3 annual waves (2016-2018) of the National Youth Tobacco Survey, a school-based survey of US youth in grades 6-12, were analyzed among current (past 30-day) tobacco product users aged 9 to 17 years. Results: During 2016-2018, youth tobacco product users most commonly obtained tobacco products from social sources. Although the percentage of users who reported buying tobacco products significantly decreased from 2016 to 2018 (2016: 15.6%; 2018: 11.4%), no significant differences in the prevalence of being refused sale were observed (2016: 24.7%; 2018: 25.5%). Conclusions: Whereas the number of youth users who report buying tobacco products has declined, sales of tobacco products to youth remain a public health concern, as only one in 4 youth who attempted to buy were refused sale in 2018. Monitoring youth tobacco product purchases, retailer compliance check inspections, and retailer penalties for sales to minors remain important for reducing youth access at retail sources.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: November 1, 2019

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  • Tobacco Regulatory Science (Electronic ISSN 2333-9748) is a rigorously peer-reviewed online scientific journal for the dissemination of research relevant to the regulation of tobacco products. The journal content includes a broad array of research domains, including chemistry, biology, behavior, community, and population-level surveillance and epidemiology, as well as knowledge syntheses (eg, meta-analyses or state-of-the-art reviews) and analytic modeling. All articles describe the policy relevance of the research outcomes. Given the global nature of tobacco regulation, particularly as a result of international and national policies, Tobacco Regulatory Science publishes high quality research that is relevant to global regulatory needs and requirements. Tobacco Regulatory Science is published electronically 6 times per year.
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