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Sustainability Homepage - Youth Tobacco Prevention
Accelerating the decline
in youth tobacco use

Management Approach

RAI and its subsidiaries share society’s belief that minors should never use tobacco products, including vapor products (also called electronic cigarettes or e-cigarettes). Youth tobacco use is illegal, and it hurts our businesses. Some government responses to youth tobacco use, such as stricter penalties for complicit adults, are reasonable and effective. Others, such as excessive tobacco excise tax increases, unfairly burden adult tobacco consumers, create illicit markets that hurt our businesses and don’t prevent youth access to tobacco.
Independent studies show long-term, substantial progress in reducing youth tobacco use and access, including:
  • A University of Michigan study noted that the smoking rate among 8th, 10th and 12th graders has dropped by three-quarters since its peak in 1997 to 7 percent, the lowest rate since the survey began in 1975. Importantly, the 2016 study measured for the first-time a decrease in the percentage of U.S. teens who use vapor products. According to the survey, e-cigarette use among 12th graders declined from 16 percent in 2015 to 13 percent in 2016, from 14 percent to 11 percent among 10th graders, and from 8 percent to 6 percent for 8th graders. All three declines were statistically significant and represent a reversal of the increasing trend in vapor products since near-zero levels in 2011. Recently enacted age restrictions on the purchase of vapor products should continue to support this trend.
  • CDC research shows the U.S. high school smoking rate at 10.8 percent in 2015, down from its peak of 36.4 percent in 1997.

While these findings demonstrate the effectiveness of youth tobacco prevention strategies, continued diligence is needed and we remain committed to furthering youth tobacco prevention (YTP). Preventing the use of tobacco products by minors is a core component of RAI’s sustainability strategy.

Goals & Leadership

Our goal for Youth Tobacco Prevention is to lead corporate, educational and legislative initiatives that accelerate the decline in youth tobacco use. We measure our success through various mechanisms, including:
  • Distribution of our Right Decisions Right Now: Be Tobacco Free program (RDRN);
  • Number of our employee-led RDRN presentations; and

  • Legislation passed to prevent minors from purchasing, using and possessing tobacco products, including e-cigarettes.
Our YTP efforts are a collaboration between representatives from public affairs, government relations, philanthropy and communications. These representatives advance our efforts on behalf of the RAI Leadership Team. In addition to the work happening throughout RAI and its subsidiaries, our YTP strategy seeks to generate greater understanding and involvement from external stakeholders by developing reliable engagement mechanisms, messaging and metrics. The engaged stakeholder groups include employees, trade partners, educators, government officials, non-profit organizations and consumers.

Programs & Priorities

RAI and its subsidiaries are proud of the youth tobacco prevention programs they’ve developed, and the efforts they’ve made to accelerate the decline in youth tobacco use. Our commitment is to keep Youth Tobacco Prevention at the forefront of our efforts as we pursue our vision of transforming the tobacco industry. It is the right thing to do for our society and it is the right thing for our businesses.