An experimental analysis of sociocultural variables in sales of cigarettes to minors

Am J Public Health. 1997 May;87(5):823-6. doi: 10.2105/ajph.87.5.823.


Objectives: This study assessed the role of age, racial/ethnic group, and gender, as well as that of other sociocultural variables, in minors' access to tobacco.

Methods: Thirty-six minors attempted to purchase cigarettes once in each of 72 stores (2592 purchase attempts). The minors represented equal numbers of girls and boys; 10-year-olds, 14-year-olds, and 16-year-olds; and Whites, Blacks, and Latinos. Equal numbers of stores were in Black, White, and Latino neighborhoods.

Results: Older children were more likely than younger ones to be sold cigarettes, and Latino children were more likely than Whites to be sold cigarettes. Older Black children (irrespective of gender) were the single most likely group to be sold cigarettes. Cigarettes were significantly more likely to be sold to children by male than female clerks and in specific sociocultural contexts.

Conclusions: Interventions with retailers must address sociocultural variables to improve effectiveness in reducing minors' access to tobacco.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Age Distribution
  • Child
  • Commerce
  • Culture*
  • Ethnicity
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Plants, Toxic*
  • Sex Distribution
  • Socioeconomic Factors*
  • Tobacco*