THURSDAY, Oct. 6, 2022 (HealthDay News) — Although it’s illegal nationwide to sell tobacco products to anyone under the age of 21, many stores in New Jersey still do so, a secret study has found.
According to the study, more than 40% of store visits by New Jersey 18- to 20-year-olds resulted in the purchase of cigarettes, cigars and other tobacco products.
While customers in this age group were required to present identification 66% of the time, they could still purchase tobacco 14% of the time. This was true even when buyers used valid driver’s licenses showing they were under 21.
“Current conditions may prevent some easily discouraged buyers from acquiring tobacco products, but underage buyers who want tobacco products will have no trouble acquiring them,” said lead author Mary Hrywna. She is an assistant professor at the Rutgers Center for Tobacco Studies and the Rutgers School of Public Health in New Brunswick, NJ, and spoke in a university press release.
According to the study, independent convenience stores and gas stations register customers less often than chain-operated convenience stores. And the strongest predictor of a miner sale was that the seller didn’t card the customer.
For the study, researchers trained five people between the ages of 18 and 20 and sent them each alone to more than 80 stores within a 25-mile radius of New Brunswick.
Prior to the enactment in 2019 of a federal law banning the sale of tobacco to persons under 21, New Jersey was among several states that raised the age from 18 to 21. Under federal law, stores are supposed to check the identification of anyone who appears to be under the age of 27.
Undercover shoppers were told to ask for tobacco products but not to lie about their age. They have also been instructed to always show their real driver’s licenses when shops ask for ID. In New Jersey, licenses for drivers under 21 are in a vertical format, so a cashier checking ID could immediately tell a buyer was underage.
The researchers said this was the first study to highlight 21 tobacco disparities by density, defined as the average number of tobacco retailers per 1,000 people. As the density of tobacco retailers increased, so did their failure to ask for identification.
Study co-author Cristine Delnevo is director of the Rutgers Center for Tobacco Studies.
“This is an important finding because we also know that a higher density of tobacco retailers is more common in lower-income neighborhoods and that young people are more likely to use tobacco when they live in low-income neighborhoods. neighborhoods with a high density of tobacco retailers,” said Delnevo, director. investigator of the US National Cancer Institute grant that funded this study.
“We could do more to reduce the availability of tobacco products at retail by limiting the number of tobacco retailers and sales to minors,” she said in the statement.
The same group plans similar studies in North Carolina, where smoking restrictions have traditionally been less strict, and in New York City, where they have been stricter. The objective is to determine to what extent the willingness to sell tobacco products changes in different political contexts.
“A better understanding of how the problem varies from place to place will increase our chances of fixing it or, at the very least, minimizing it,” Hrywna said. “Efforts to delay tobacco use are important because the younger people are when they start experimenting with tobacco products, the more likely they are to become addicted and suffer serious health problems later.”
The results were published on October 5 in Open JAMA Network.
The Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education at the University of California, San Francisco has more to say about US tobacco laws.
SOURCE: Rutgers University, press release, October 5, 2022
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