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Tobacco commerce on the internet: a threat to comprehensive tobacco control


Although internet use continues to increase and e-commerce sales are expected to exceed US$1 trillion by the end of 2001, there have been few assessments in the literature regarding the implications of this medium for tobacco control efforts. This commentary explores the challenges that the internet may pose to the key components of a comprehensive tobacco control strategy, and pinpoints potential approaches for addressing these challenges. Four key challenges that the internet presents for tobacco control are identified: unrestricted sales to minors; cheaper cigarettes through tax avoidance and smuggling; unfettered advertising, marketing and promotion; and continued normalisation of the tobacco industry and its products. Potential strategies for addressing these challenges include international tobacco control agreements, national and state regulation, and legal remedies.

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