As we continue into the 2022 Oklahoma legislative session, we want to talk with you about Purchase, Use, and Possession (PUP) laws for youth with tobacco.
Over the last decade, we have worked tirelessly to reduce the number of young people who are using e-cigarette/vape devices and other flavored tobacco products. During this time, one of the issues that has come up again and again is the need to reform Oklahoma’s state PUP law. PUP laws were passed in the mid-90s as an attempt to reduce the number of underage people purchasing and using tobacco products. However, these laws have not served as an effective deterrent for youth and have created some unintended consequences. A recent study shows age is not a barrier to sale for most youth, and 75 percent of youth who tried to buy tobacco products were not refused.
- PUP laws shift the responsibility from the tobacco retailers who sell to those under the legal purchase age to the young people who have been targeted by the tobacco/e-cigarette industry.
- PUP laws criminalize and punish youth for possessing, buying, and using tobacco products, which can include detainment, penalties, and fines.
- Law enforcement can stop those who they suspect are under 21 and in possession of or using tobacco and ask them to produce identification.
- Enforcement of PUP laws disproportionately affects youth of color, LGBTQ youth and youth from low-income communities.
The tobacco industry spends $137 million a year marketing their products in Oklahoma. Many of the flavors like gummy bear, strawberry, chocolate and skittles are clearly marketed towards young people. Currently, 27.8 percent of Oklahoma high schoolers have vaped at least once in the past 30 days.
Reducing the number of young people who use flavored products will not be easy, but there are more effective strategies to reduce youth initiation of smoking. PUP laws should be reformed so the focus of the penalty is on retailers who sell to underage buyers, not on the youth.
Legislation has been introduced in Oklahoma, HB 3315 introduced by Rep. Cynthia Roe, and we need your support. Be on the lookout for ways to show your support for this bill. If you have any questions about the issue, please don’t hesitate to reach out. You can email us directly at [email protected].