Objectives: Tobacco products in the US market are growing in diversity. Little is known about how youth access tobacco products given this current landscape. Methods: Data were drawn from 15- to 17-year-olds from the Wave 1 youth sample of the US nationally representative Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health (PATH) Study. Past 30-day tobacco users were asked about usual sources of access to 12 different tobacco products, and if they had been refused sale because of their age. Results: Among 15- to 17-year-olds, social sources ("someone offered" or "asked someone") were the predominant usual source of access for each tobacco product. "Bought by self" was the usual source of access for users of smokeless (excluding snus, 23.2%), cigarillos (21.0%), cigarettes (13.8%), hookah (12.0%), and electronic cigarettes (10.5%). Convenience stores and/or gas stations were the most often selected retail source for all products except hookah. Among youth who attempted purchase, 24.3% were refused sale of cigarettes, 23.9% cigarillos, and 13.8% smokeless tobacco. Conclusions: Most 15- to 17-year-old tobacco users obtain tobacco products through social sources; however, among those who purchased tobacco, the majority report not being refused sale because of age. At the time of survey, cigarette and cigar sales to under 18 years were prohibited in all 50 states, and electronic cigarettes sales in 47 states and two territories. 2014 Annual Synar Reports signaled increasing trends in retail violations of state and/or district laws prohibiting tobacco product sales to under 18 years. Monitoring illicit youth sales, conducting compliance check inspections, and penalizing violations remain important to reduce youth tobacco access at retail venues. Implications: Access to the spectrum of tobacco products by youth in the United States remains predominantly through social sources. However, of the minority of youth tobacco users in 2014 who purchased tobacco themselves, a few reported being refused sale: Convenience stores and/or gas stations were the most common retail source for tobacco products. The strategies of monitoring illicit youth sales, conducting compliance checks, and penalizing violations remain important to reduce youth tobacco access at retail venues. Limiting sources of youth tobacco access remains an important focus to reduce the burden of tobacco on the public health.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health