Objective: To assess trends and correlates of youth cigarette purchasing behavior on the Internet.
Methods: In 2000-2001, Roswell Park Cancer Institute conducted a survey asking 7,019 ninth grade students in Erie and Niagara Counties in New York State about their tobacco use and purchasing habits, including use of the Internet to buy cigarettes. The 2004-2005 survey is a replication of the 2000-2001 survey. Both surveys used an anonymous, self-administered questionnaire survey. These data were combined in order to examine trends in youth smoking behavior.
Results: Students surveyed in 2004-2005 were 2.6 times more likely (95% CI: 1.5, 4.6) to have purchased cigarettes over the Internet in the 30 days prior to the survey than those surveyed in 2001 (5.2% to 1.6%); however, the intention to use the Internet as a cigarette source in the future did not change between survey periods.
Conclusion: Youth online cigarette purchasing has increased but intention to use the Internet to purchase cigarettes in the future has remained the same, suggesting that this trend may be reaching a plateau. Recent public efforts to reduce online cigarette sales will need to be evaluated in order to determine which policy or combination of policies are most effective.