Current US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) proposals to limit the sale of tobacco and vape products to youths will require further adjustments for effectiveness, according to research published in JAMA Pediatrics.

Using data from the 2018 sample of the California Tobacco Control Program’s Young Adult Tobacco Purchase Survey, researchers investigated the adequacy of the FDA’s intention to limit the sale of flavored tobacco products by age-restricted locations. Sample size included 1746 individuals decoys between 18 and 19 years were randomly assigned to purchase either cigarettes or vape products (n=1123 and n=498, respectively). The sample also included stores considered noncompletes (n=98), and stores where decoys requested other tobacco products, such as cigars (n=27). Per study protocol, these decoys did not carry identification and did not lie about their age. Trained chaperones observed the in-store interactions.

Nearly 50% of tobacco and vape shops surveyed (49.8%) did not follow FDA regulations in checking identification for persons younger than 27 years. The rate of violations in these retailers was significantly higher when compared with other types of retailers (P <.05). Both tobacco and vape shops sold vape products to underage decoys at a higher rate compared with other tobacco retailers (44.7%). Sales violations were higher overall for vape products compared with cigarettes (X²=4.3938; P <.05). The investigators noted that in addition to California, other states, including North Carolina and Oklahoma, reported 20% or higher rates of underage sales in tobacco and vape shops during the federal fiscal year of 2019.

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The study researchers concluded that “these results suggest that the FDA’s proposal to relegate sales of flavored tobacco products to adult-only facilities [is] not likely to be effective without significant age-verification requirements and increases in the number and frequency of compliance checks that the FDA conducts.”


Roeseler A, Vuong TD, Henriksen L, Zhang X. Assessment of underage sales violations in tobacco stores and vape shops [published online June 24, 2019]. JAMA Pediatr. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2019.1571

This article originally appeared on Pulmonology Advisor