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Grant Details

Grant Number: 5R01CA169189-10 Interpret this number
Primary Investigator: Williams, Rebecca
Organization: Univ Of North Carolina Chapel Hill
Project Title: Continuing to Evaluate the Impact of Federal Legislation on Internet Tobacco Sales
Fiscal Year: 2021


Abstract There is a fundamental gap in the understanding of how newly passed federal regulations have and will continue to affect the sales practices of Internet Tobacco Vendors (ITVs). In the past, they have enjoyed relatively few regulatory restrictions as compared to retail stores, resulting in widespread excise tax evasion and poor youth access prevention. 2009’s Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act (FSPTCA), 2010’s Prevent All Cigarette Trafficking (PACT) Act, and 2016’s FDA Deeming Regulations have dramatically changed the environment for Internet tobacco sales by giving the FDA power to regulate tobacco, restricting the shipment of tobacco from ITVs, mandating age verification and tax reporting, and banning the sale of light tobacco and flavored cigarettes, and forthcoming regulations from FDA are anticipated to restrict ITV sales even further. The ITV industry has proven highly adaptable to attempts to regulate it, exploiting loopholes in regulations and increasing their offerings of less regulated products similar to those that have been banned. Continued in-depth surveillance of this industry is important to assess how implementation and enforcement of these regulations affects the industry, and to determine not only the extent to which ITVs comply with the regulations but also the ways they find ways to avoid compliance and/or adapt to regulations in new and unexpected ways. Our broad goal is to use state-of-the-art research methods to conduct extensive surveillance of the online retail environment for tobacco, to evaluate impact of regulations on this industry’s practices, and to disseminate our findings to policymakers in the interest of guiding future policy and enforcement efforts. Building on data and protocols developed over 17 years of studying ITVs, this goal will be achieved by pursuing six specific aims: 1. prepare comprehensive lists of online sellers of five categories of products: e- cigarettes, cigarettes, little cigars, hookah, and other tobacco products; 2. conduct ITV website content analyses to assess ITV sales practices and 3. conduct ITV youth purchase surveys to assess compliance with the FSPTCA, PACT Act, FDA Deeming, and other forthcoming regulations. The approach is innovative in that it achieves several firsts; content analyses and purchase surveys from hookah tobacco sellers, 4. evaluation of the effect of Deeming regulations on the ITV industry; and 5. Evaluation of the effectiveness of modern online age verification strategies not currently in broad use by ITVs, to determine whether they are effective and appropriate to recommend FDA require for online tobacco sales. The proposed research is significant because it will provide rapid detection of changes in ITV practices in response to new and forthcoming regulation as it 6. disseminates findings to FDA, regulators, and researchers to spur action, enabling the government to more effectively revise their regulatory and enforcement efforts, with a greater goal of reducing the public health threats posed by ITV sales.


The rise of disposable JUUL-type e-cigarette devices.
Authors: Williams R. .
Source: Tobacco control, 2020 Dec; 29(e1), p. e134-e135.
EPub date: 2019-12-05.
PMID: 31806858
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The internet market for Kratom, an opioid alternative and variably legal recreational drug.
Authors: Williams R.S. , Nikitin D. .
Source: The International journal on drug policy, 2020 Apr; 78, p. 102715.
EPub date: 2020-03-14.
PMID: 32182543
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Age Verification and Online Sales of Little Cigars and Cigarillos to Minors.
Authors: Williams R.S. , Phillips-Weiner K.J. , Vincus A.A. .
Source: Tobacco regulatory science, 2020 Mar; 6(2), p. 152-163.
PMID: 32789154
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Strategies to Reduce Illicit Trade of Regular Nicotine Tobacco Products After Introduction of a Low-Nicotine Tobacco Product Standard.
Authors: Ribisl K.M. , Hatsukami D.K. , Huang J. , Williams R.S. , Donny E.C. .
Source: American journal of public health, 2019 Jul; 109(7), p. 1007-1014.
PMID: 31166743
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What is included with your online e-cigarette order? An analysis of e-cigarette shipping, product and packaging features.
Authors: Kong A.Y. , Derrick J.C. , Abrantes A.S. , Williams R.S. .
Source: Tobacco control, 2018 Nov; 27(6), p. 699-702.
EPub date: 2016-06-29.
PMID: 27357936
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Content analysis of e-cigarette products, promotions, prices and claims on Internet tobacco vendor websites, 2013-2014.
Authors: Williams R.S. , Derrick J. , Liebman A.K. , LaFleur K. .
Source: Tobacco control, 2018 Jul; 27(e1), p. e34-e40.
EPub date: 2017-11-03.
PMID: 29101294
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Content analysis of age verification, purchase and delivery methods of internet e-cigarette vendors, 2013 and 2014.
Authors: Williams R.S. , Derrick J. , Liebman A.K. , LaFleur K. , Ribisl K.M. .
Source: Tobacco control, 2018 May; 27(3), p. 287-293.
EPub date: 2017-05-08.
PMID: 28484040
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Internet little cigar and cigarillo vendors: Surveillance of sales and marketing practices via website content analysis.
Authors: Williams R.S. , Derrick J.C. .
Source: Preventive medicine, 2018 Apr; 109, p. 51-57.
EPub date: 2018-01-31.
PMID: 29378269
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Cigarette sales to minors via the internet: how the story has changed in the wake of federal regulation.
Authors: Williams R.S. , Derrick J. , Phillips K.J. .
Source: Tobacco control, 2017 Jul; 26(4), p. 415-420.
EPub date: 2016-07-13.
PMID: 27413060
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Internet cigarette vendors make tax-free claims and sell cigarettes cheaper than retail outlets.
Authors: Hall M.G. , Williams R.S. , Gammon D.G. , Ribisl K.M. .
Source: Tobacco control, 2016 Nov; 25(6), p. 616-618.
EPub date: 2015-10-21.
PMID: 26490844
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Is the E-Liquid Industry Regulating Itself? A Look at E-Liquid Internet Vendors in the United States.
Authors: Nikitin D. , Timberlake D.S. , Williams R.S. .
Source: Nicotine & tobacco research : official journal of the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco, 2016 Oct; 18(10), p. 1967-72.
EPub date: 2016-03-19.
PMID: 26995792
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When a ban really is not a ban: internet loopholes and Djarum flavoured cigarettes in the USA.
Authors: Allem J.P. , Ayers J.W. , Althouse B.M. , Williams R. .
Source: Tobacco control, 2016 Jul; 25(4), p. 489-90.
EPub date: 2015-06-17.
PMID: 26085123
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Revisiting the Rise of Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems Using Search Query Surveillance.
Authors: Ayers J.W. , Althouse B.M. , Allem J.P. , Leas E.C. , Dredze M. , Williams R.S. .
Source: American journal of preventive medicine, 2016 Jun; 50(6), p. e173-e181.
EPub date: 2016-02-11.
PMID: 26876772
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VapeCons: E-cigarette user conventions.
Authors: Williams R.S. .
Source: Journal of public health policy, 2015 Nov; 36(4), p. 440-51.
EPub date: 2015-10-01.
PMID: 26424201
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Electronic cigarette sales to minors via the internet.
Authors: Williams R.S. , Derrick J. , Ribisl K.M. .
Source: JAMA pediatrics, 2015 Mar; 169(3), p. e1563.
EPub date: 2015-03-02.
PMID: 25730697
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Tobacco products sold by Internet vendors following restrictions on flavors and light descriptors.
Authors: Jo C.L. , Williams R.S. , Ribisl K.M. .
Source: Nicotine & tobacco research : official journal of the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco, 2015 Mar; 17(3), p. 344-9.
EPub date: 2014-08-30.
PMID: 25173777
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