Youth Tobacco Access Prevention
Almost 90 percent of adult smokers started tobacco use before the age of 18. With the flavoring in tobacco products, this can make it more appealing to youth. More than 8 in 10 youth who have used tobacco products started with a flavored product. In addition, tobacco companies target communities of color, LGBTQ+ communities, and low-income families with their marketing, increasing tobacco-related health disparities.
There are many factors that can lead youth to use tobacco products such as social and physical environments (peer tobacco use), mental health (stress, depression, anxiety), and biological factors (nicotine sensitivity in teens). During adolescence, youth are still developing and any toxins in tobacco can cause detrimental effects on their organs. More specifically, this is an important stage for brain development, which can be vulnerable to nicotine addiction.
To address youth tobacco use, The U.S. government created the Synar program that prevents underage tobacco use and distribution. Synar is an amendment that was created in 1992 that enforces laws that prohibit the sale of tobacco products to minors. As a result, Virginia can conduct random inspections of tobacco retailors to ensure they are complying with the program.