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Evaluating the Impact of Federal Legislation on Internet Tobacco Sales

Principal Investigator: Rebecca Williams

Funding Mechanism: National Institutes of Health- Grant

ID number: 1R01CA169189-01

Award Date: 9/14/2012

Institution: University of North Carolina Chapel Hill


In the past, internet tobacco vendors (ITVs) have had relatively few regulatory restrictions compared to retail stores, resulting in widespread excise tax evasion and poor youth access prevention; therefore, in-depth surveillance of ITVs is important in determining the extent to which these vendors comply with new and existing governmental regulations. This study will use state-of-the-art research methods to conduct extensive surveillance of the online tobacco retail environment, evaluate the effect of state and federal policies on industry practices, and disseminate findings to policymakers. Study aims are: (1) to prepare a comprehensive, annually-updated list of online sellers of cigarettes, e-cigarettes, little cigars, and other tobacco products; (2) to conduct annual ITV website content analyses; (3) to conduct annual ITV youth purchase surveys to assess vendor compliance with existing and new regulations; (4) to conduct laboratory tests on cigarettes purchased online to determine if they are smuggled, counterfeit and/or contain abnormally high levels of hazardous ingredients (i.e., heavy metals such as arsenic, cadmium, chromium, lead, nickel, selenium and mercury); and (5) to continually monitor news and Google keyword searches to assess trends related to ITVs.


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