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Analysis of factors related to illegal tobacco sales to young people in Ontario
  1. Bill O'Gradya,
  2. Mark Asbridgeb,
  3. Tom Abernathyc
  1. aDepartment of Sociology and Anthropology, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada, bDepartment of Sociology, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, cCentral West Health Planning Information Network, Hamilton, Ontario
  1. Dr T Abernathy, c/o Central West Health Planning Information Network, 10 George Street, No 301B, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada L8P 1C8;toma{at}


OBJECTIVE To identify and to discuss factors influencing illegal merchant sales of tobacco to underage people in Ontario, Canada.

DESIGN Results were obtained through random retail compliance checks of tobacco merchants. A multivariate analysis specified the relationship between selected independent variables and the willingness of tobacco merchants to sell to minors. The selected independent variables included retail operation type, community population size, the presence of tobacco production, signage, sex and age of volunteers, smoking prevalence rates, and enforcement rates.

PARTICIPANTS A random, stratified sample of 438 tobacco retailers in 186 communities in Ontario.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE Willingness of merchants to sell tobacco to minors.

RESULTS Older youths and girls were more likely to be sold tobacco products. Purchase attempts carried out in tobacco-producing regions were also statistically related to illegal sales.

CONCLUSIONS Policy efforts to control youth access to tobacco in Canada may need to invoke legislation requiring merchants to request proper identification from customers who appear to be under the age of 25, and who seek to purchase tobacco products. Further attention could also be directed at tobacco control policies and enforcement strategies that need to consider the unique challenges faced by jurisdictions where the tobacco industry is a powerful presence.

  • access laws
  • compliance
  • Canada

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