Small shops and heavy advertisers less likely to ID tobacco sales

Research suggests young smokers are less likely to be carded in smaller shops and those that heavily advertise tobacco, according to a study from the American Journal of Health Promotion.

In Columbus, Ohio, where officials are currently trying to decide whether to raise the legal tobacco age to 21, the study sent 20- and 21-year-old researchers into a variety of stores. They were not carded in 60 percent of the stores.

“Our findings suggest that certain types of stores — tobacco shops, convenience stores and those with a lot of tobacco advertising — are more likely to sell tobacco to a young person without checking his or her ID,” said Megan Roberts, an assistant professor of health behavior and health promotion at Ohio State University. “One implication of this finding is that enforcement may benefit from targeted outreach and monitoring at these locations.”

In the study, 64 percent of grocery stores asked for ID while only 29 percent asked in bars, restaurants and alcohol stores.

“In addition to variation by type of store, we saw that those that heavily advertised were less likely to card us. It makes sense, if you think about it, that people who are plastering their windows with tobacco ads probably are trying to make a lot of money off those products and may be more likely to look the other way when selling to a young adult,” Niru Murali said. She participated in the study as part of her undergraduate work at Ohio State.

In Columbus, anyone who looks younger than 30 is supposed to be carded when buying tobacco products.

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