Revised December 2021
Tobacco Purchase Surveys Best Practice Steps: (These steps are NOT Recorded in ECCO,
but are the state protocols that can be found at https://ncpreventiontta.zendesk.com/hc/enus/sections/360002264791-SYNAR-Updates-and-Protocols-.) Must pair with merchant education and/or law enforcement efforts
1. Prevention providers will assist in the recruitment of youthful looking 21-year-old young
adults who appear their age or younger (and should not misrepresent their age at any
2. Prevention providers will assist in age testing efforts by having 12 adults guess the ages
of the young adult(s) being used for tobacco purchase surveys, to calculate an average
age of appearance. This can be accomplished by taking the young adult to a well
populated area such as a shopping center or by using a clear headshot photograph. If you
choose not to do age testing in a face-to-face setting, provide clear headshots of the
young adults to 12 adults to determine ages in an assessment panel or via an online
meeting. All young adults must appear to be under twenty-one to participate.
3. Prevention providers will ensure the young adults are dressed for surveys in the same
way they were dressed when they went through the age estimation procedure to assure
no one could say that they looked younger or older than their stated age.
4. Prevention providers will assist with the maintenance of a secure file including, but not
limited to: a NC State-issued photo identification card/driver’s license and emergency
contact information, injury waiver, criminal and driving history, etc. NOTE: Provider will
ensure young adults submit their criminal and driving records. The recommendation is
all young adults must have and maintain a clear criminal and driving record history.
5. Prevention providers will train adult chaperone/monitor(s) and young adults in Non-Enforcement Tobacco Survey protocols.
6. Prevention providers will assist with inspection route planning using tobacco retailer lists
within the merchant tracker in ECCO and will coordinate/designate a location to meet the
1. Prevention providers and team (adult chaperone/monitor and young adult) will assist
and/or proceed to the first store location. Upon arriving at each location, if possible, the
driver will attempt to park in a location that is not visible to the clerk so as not to alert
the clerk to the occurrence of a tobacco survey. Note: Provider will ensure at least
teams of two are conducting tobacco purchase surveys. One acts as
chaperone/monitor and the other is the young adult.
2. Prevention providers and/or the adult chaperone/monitor should discuss a plan
including who will enter and in what order, what type of product to purchase, what
location to purchase from and any potential security issues.
3. Prevention providers and/or the adult chaperone/monitor will determine the safety of
the location in consultation with the young adult. A signal for aborting the location due
to safety concerns should be established ahead of time.
4. Prevention providers and/or the adult chaperone/monitor will ensure the young adult
DOES NOT have his or her ID.
5. If the adult chaperone/monitor’s presence in the store will not compromise the survey,
the chaperone/monitor and the young adult will enter the store in the most natural way
6. Prevention providers and/or chaperone/monitor will determine if his or her presence
in the store will compromise the survey and the location is deemed adequately safe.
The young adult will enter the store alone and attempt to purchase a tobacco product
(e.g., smokeless tobacco, cigarette, vape) while the chaperone /monitor watches the
7. In the event the chaperone/monitor is unable to enter then the young adult goes in,
but the chaperone/monitor maintains a clear vision of the young adult at all times. The
prevention provider and/or chaperone/monitor will enter the store if the young adult
does not emerge within a reasonable time to have attempted to purchase a regulated
tobacco product (5 minutes).
8. The prevention provider and/or chaperone/monitor will instruct the young adult to first
attempt to purchase from a self-service display. If this is unavailable, the young adult
should request tobacco products.
9. The prevention provider and/or chaperone/monitor will ensure the young adult does
not present any identification when attempting to purchase tobacco. If challenged
about their age(s), the young adult will state their correct age.
10. The prevention provider and/or chaperone/monitor will instruct the young adult to
terminate the transaction and immediately leave the establishment if it appears that a
sale is about to be made.
11. The prevention provider and/or chaperone/monitor will ask and ensure the young adult
completes a North Carolina Tobacco Survey form immediately in its entirety following
each survey. If a tobacco product was “almost sold” to the young adult, the survey form
noting retailers that almost sold (versus those that did not sell tobacco products) should
be reported on the North Carolina Tobacco Survey form.
12. The prevention provider will enter the information from the North Carolina Tobacco
Survey form into the merchant tracker in ECCO under “Part 2 Tobacco Survey” within a
week of completing the tobacco purchase survey visit.
13. For tobacco retailers that “almost sold,” we suggest going back and giving basic
information to the store about the tobacco survey (date) and give them a retail
information (i.e., we check ID window decal, check ID handout and retailer training
cards accessible on AlphaGraphics ordering portal) packet with information about
online training. For store employees that did not “sell,” we recommend giving a
certificate and/or other incentive for being a “responsible employee.”
Hours for this strategy should be counted as Synar 3.2 Merchant Education.
Reach: Count collaborative members as well as community education participants involved
in tobacco purchase surveys, excluding staff. Do not count youth reached, as they will be
counted under merchant education and law enforcement efforts. Must pair with merchant
education and/or law enforcement. Clerk demographics are included in the merchant
tracker, however, in terms of reach clerks should only be counted under merchant
education and/or law enforcement. Reach is counted per fiscal year.
ECCO Process Data:
- Number of community groups identified
- Number of planning meetings with new or existing community groups/partners
- Number of groups that received information on youth access (laws, penalties)
- Number of young adults
- Number of Non-enforcement inspections held
ECCO documentation to upload:
- PowerPoint used for training or training materials
- Meeting minutes for planning and implementation
- Plan example for the tobacco purchase survey
- Age testing protocols/form
- Tobacco survey protocols