Nicotine, a highly addictive stimulate present in commercial tobacco products, can harm adolescent brain development, cause lung damage, and increase and/or worsen poor mental health symptoms such as anxiety and depression. To prevent youth initiation and reduce youth use of commercial tobacco products, several state legislatures have implemented Purchase, Use, or Possession (PUP) laws. However, such punitive measures have been found ineffective and counterproductive, potentially hindering broader public health goals. The Public Health Law Center recently released a fact sheet titled: “Youth Purchase, Use or Possession (PUP) Commercial Tobacco Laws and Penalties”, that explores the harms of PUP laws and shares valuable, evidence-based solutions to reduce youth use.

The fact sheet includes the evidence of the problem with PUP Laws, such as how these laws 1) undermine commercial tobacco prevention efforts, 2) are counterproductive in combating nicotine addiction, 3) shift focus from the industry and its targeted marketing, and 4) perpetuate inequities and contribute to high incarceration rates.

The fact sheet also provides policymakers and public health advocates with evidence-based solutions to reduce youth use. These solutions include: 1) repeal PUP laws and adopt anti-PUP provisions, 2) enact laws that focus on results and not punishment, 3) reducing youth exposure to commercial tobacco products and commercial tobacco advertising through policies such as retailer density caps, 4) impose minimum price regulations to deter youth access, and 5) invest in cessation resources.