Ribisl briefs Congressional task force on impact of Internet cigarette sales

August 10, 2006
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Federal legislation that would regulate buying and selling of tobacco products online could significantly reduce youth access to cigarettes via the Internet and ensure taxes are properly collected, Carolina School of Public Health faculty and alumni recently told the Congressional Task Force on Tobacco and Health.

Dr. Kurt Ribisl

Dr. Kurt Ribisl

Kurt M. Ribisl, PhD, associate professor in Health Behavior and Health Education, and Drs. Rebecca Williams and Annice Kim, recent graduates of the department, briefed the task force on their research about the impact of Internet cigarette sales, presenting a case for strong federal regulations.

Internet sale of cigarettes results in several major predicaments, the research revealed–not the least of which is the ease and anonymity with which minors can obtain the product. Other problems stem from the fact that cigarettes sold online are generally cheaper than at stores because most sales do not include the collection of cigarette excise taxes. Studies show that higher cigarette taxes discourage the start-up of smoking and encourage quitting. It is also true that many state governments have earmarked a percentage of their cigarette taxes for cancer screening and tobacco control measures; not paying tax online results in serious loss of revenue for these prevention programs.

For these reasons, Ribisl and his team have shared their research with state and federal policymakers. “Given the numerous threats to public health posed by Internet cigarette sales,” he said, “we are stepping up our efforts to get engaged in the policy process. Although attempts at passing federal legislation have stalled in the past, we hope that effective legislation soon will be enacted.”

Details of the briefing can be found online at the Website for the Substance Abuse Policy Program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, www.saprp.org/pdf/ICS_Briefing_FINAL.pdf.


For further information, please contact Ramona DuBose by phone at 919-966-7467 or by email