Introduction Previous studies examining tobacco retailers’ compliance with youth tobacco access policies have mostly evaluated retailers’ likelihood of selling cigarettes to minors, and none have evaluated the likelihood of selling snus (a new smokeless tobacco product) to minors. We assessed the availability of snus and the likelihood of selling snus to adolescents in tobacco retailers in a large city in Minnesota.
Methods We randomly selected 71 eligible retailers located in a large city in Minnesota, and assessed the availability of snus through Camel snus retailer listings and phone inquiry. Purchase attempts by an underage buyer were used to assess the likelihood of selling snus to minors. χ2 tests were used to examine the store and neighbourhood characteristics associated with availability of snus.
Results We found that 31 retailers (43.7%) carried snus in the store, and 4 (12.9%) sold snus to the underage buyer. Retailers who sold gasoline were more likely to carry snus in the store (p<0.01). Neighbourhood demographic characteristics were not associated with availability of snus (p>0.10).
Conclusions Prevalence of snus sales to minors appeared to be higher than that of cigarette sales to minors according to the 2011 Synar report. Futures studies are needed to determine whether tobacco retailers are more likely to sell snus than cigarettes to minors. Interventions such as public and retailer policies are needed to reduce the likelihood of tobacco retailers selling snus to minors.
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