Tobacco-Free Youth

Smoking and COVID-19

Smoking tobacco may increase the risk of serious complications from novel coronavirus (COVID-19). Now is a good time to quit for keeps. Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW or enroll online for free help.

More than 103,000 kids currently under 18 in South Carolina will die prematurely from smoking. Kids who use ENDS products like e-cigarettes or vapes are more likely to become everyday tobacco users.

Statistics gathered in 2017 show that statewide:

  • 4.9 percent of all high school students smoke cigarettes
  • 27.5 percent of high school students currently use some form of tobacco
  • 1,800 kids under age 18 in SC become new daily smokers each year
  • 22.1 percent of high school students use e-cigarettes or vapes

While rates for smoking have decreased, rates of using e-cigarettes or vapes have increased at an alarming rate.  DTPC works with youth organizations to provide education about the SC Youth Access to Tobacco Prevention Act which now includes e-cigarettes, youth tobacco prevention guidance for school administrators, appropriate youth tobacco prevention school curricula, and resources for parents.

DTPC Approved Youth Tobacco Prevention Curricula

DTPC encourages schools to incorporate evidence-based curricula into their school health classes to prevent tobacco use and nicotine addiction. For tobacco-free school information, please call (803) 898-2282.

The resources listed below help explain the harmful effects of tobacco use and provide suggestions on how to prevent young people from using tobacco in all forms. This information is useful for anyone interested in teaching youth and young adults about the negative health effects associated with tobacco.

Programs currently approved by DHEC's Division of Tobacco Prevention and Control:

  1. Stanford University Tobacco Prevention Toolkit
  2. CATCH My Breath Middle School E-cigarette Prevention
  3. Botvin Life Skills Training
  4. N-O-T (Not on Tobacco)

Use the following information to design or enhance local program efforts.

Youth Access to Tobacco Prevention Act of 2006 (Section 16-17-500, as amended, Code of Laws of SC, 1976), states that youth under the age of 18 years must not purchase, attempt to purchase, possess, or attempt to possess a tobacco product or an alternative nicotine product or present or offer proof of age that is false or fraudulent for the purpose of purchasing or possessing a tobacco product or an alternative nicotine product.  A minor who violates this provision may be subject to penalties including a civil fine up to $25, to include all applicable court costs, assessments, and surcharges.

In lieu of the civil fine, the court may require a minor to successfully complete a DHEC approved smoking cessation or tobacco prevention program, or to perform not more than five hours of community service for a charitable institution. The Division of Tobacco Prevention and Control (DTPC) approves only those smoking cessation or tobacco prevention programs that meet the requirements of a proven and effective program. Through cooperation with local organizations, DTPC will maintain an updated database of available local programs. Submission of these programs or requests for further information may be directed to the DTPC staff at (803) 898-2282.

Tobacco retailers are also required by state law to post signs regarding youth access to tobacco products.  SC Department of Health and Environmental Control provides tobacco retailer signs that can be downloaded and posted according to the specifications of this amended law.

S.C. Tobacco Quitline Youth Support Program

The SC Youth Support Program (YSP) provides age-appropriate services and resources to youth who violate the state's Youth Access to Tobacco Prevention Act and are assigned an alternative punishment. This service is telephone based and toll-free, and eliminates problems such as access to services, transportation, and scheduling for youth. Referral form pads are available from DHEC for magistrates and municipal court judges to appoint youth into the program. Youth receive certificates to notify the court that they have both enrolled in and completed the program. This program is available at no charge to participants or to the court.

Additional programs and service will be posted to this website upon approval or when available. Please check the site often for the most up-to-date listing. DHEC is not responsible for costs associated with the use of these programs.

The act also requires all tobacco retailers to post signage regarding legal age of purchase that also displays the SC Tobacco Quitline (1-800-QUIT-NOW) information.  Retailers can access that sign here.  





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