Context There is growing concern that the Internet might become a source of
tobacco products for minors. Although researchers have studied tobacco sales
to minors at retail outlets for more than a decade, there are no published
studies of tobacco sales to minors via the Internet.
Objective To determine the proportion of Internet cigarette vendors that will
sell cigarettes to minors.
Design, Setting, and Participants Cross-sectional study conducted in April-July 2001. Under adult supervision,
4 adolescents aged 11 to 15 years attempted to purchase cigarettes via 55
Internet cigarette vendors located in 12 states. These minors made a total
of 83 purchase attempts, paying by credit card (n = 47) and by money order
(n = 36).
Main Outcome Measure Proportion of Internet cigarette vendors that sold cigarettes to minors.
Results Minors successfully received cigarettes for 93.6% of credit card purchase
attempts and for 88.9% of money order purchase attempts. Age was never verified
for any of these deliveries. Internet vendors sent a total of 1650 packs of
cigarettes to the underage adolescents in this study.
Conclusion Minors appear to have easy access to cigarettes via the Internet because
many Internet vendors have weak or nonexistent age verification procedures.