Introduction: Intervention studies to reduce cigarette sales to minors have been conducted primarily in suburban settings. Little is known about sociocultural factors influencing cigarette sales to minors in urban settings. This study sought to determine sociodemographic and cultural factors that may play a role in cigarette sales and in efforts to reduce sales to minors in urban areas.
Methods: Merchant education and follow-up surveys were conducted in small local stores in predominantly African-American urban census tracts in Baltimore. The stores had prior evidence of cigarette sales to minors.
Results: Merchants reported hostility (66%) and foul language (64%) when they requested youth identification. Youthful-oriented advertising of cigarettes was highly prevalent in all stores and moreso in stores owned and staffed by Asian merchants. Advertising with specific youthful content was predictive (OR = 3.97; 95% CI = 1.70, 9.23; P = .0014) of higher requests for cigarettes from minors.
Conclusions: Youth-oriented cigarette advertising is a prevalent environmental risk for urban youth. Differences between Asian and African-American merchants suggest socioethnic factors may be an influential component of illegal sales and educational campaigns to reduce smoking among minors.