Youth Tobacco Prevention

Smoking and COVID-19

Being a current or former cigarette smoker increases your risk of severe illness from COVID-19.

More than 103,000 kids under the age of 18 in South Carolina will die prematurely from dangerous and addictive commercial tobacco products.  Kids who use ENDS products like e-cigarettes or vapes are more likely to become ever day commercial tobacco users.  DHEC Division of Tobacco Prevention and Control staff work with a variety of partners on efforts to prevent youth from becoming tobacco users.  Through technical support, educational materials, and resource sharing we are able to support parents and adults who work with youth.    

Statewide Statistics

  • 4.9% of all high school students smoke cigarettes
  • 27.5% 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% of high school students use e-cigarettes or vapes

DHEC  Approved Youth Tobacco Prevention Resources

The Youth Access to Tobacco Prevention Act of 2006 (Section 16-17-500, as amended, Code of Laws of SC, 1976) states that all public school districts are to provide DHEC approved curricula for youth tobacco prevention that includes e-cigarettes/vapes.  DHEC Division of Tobacco Prevention and Control staff encourage schools to incorporate evidence-based tobacco prevention curricula into school health classes to prevent commercial tobacco use and nicotine addiction.  Use the links below to access DHEC approved curricula, national organizations, programs, toolkits, and reports to enhance youth tobacco prevention efforts.  


  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)

National Organizations


Youth Access to Tobacco Prevention Act of 2006

The 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 Department of Health and Environmental Control approved smoking cessation or tobacco prevention program, or to perform not more than five hours of community service for a charitable institution.  Approved programs must meet specific, evidence-based requirements of a proven and effective program. Youth cessation program submissions or requests for further information may be directed to the Division of Tobacco Prevention and Control at (803) 898-2282.

Currently Approved Programs

SC 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. (Get the PDF of order form.) 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 Youth Access to Tobacco Prevention Act of 2006 (Section 16-17-500, as amended, Code of Laws of SC, 1976) 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.

Additional Resources

CDC E-cigarette Information

Know the Risks: E-cigarettes and Young People

Truth Initiative

Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids