What To Say

If asked by someone under 21 to buy or give them tobacco or vaping products.

Be comfortable saying NO when someone under 21 asks you to buy or give them tobacco or vaping products.


There are lots of ways to say no, but often, the best way is to just say it and get it over with. “No,” “no thanks,” or “sorry” work just fine. It’s fine to be courteous, but don’t stay in the conversation longer than you have to.

Excuses Don’t Help

Making an excuse seems like a good idea at first. It makes you seem like you would love to help, but there’s just a small thing stopping you. But excuses are easy to counter. You tell them you forgot your wallet, they say they can wait for you to go get it. You say you’re busy, they ask when you’re available. When you say no without the strings of excuses attached, it makes their potential bargaining much less effective.

Apologies Are Fine, Up To A Point

As stated above “sorry” is a perfectly acceptable response to a teenager asking you to buy them cigarettes. But make sure you’re not coming off as too sympathetic. An apology can easily turn into an excuse if you don’t choose your words carefully, and that opens the door for them to continue making their case.

Put Yourself In Their Shoes

Normally, this is a way of feeling more empathy for the other person, but in this context, it really helps put things in perspective. When you were a kid, did you ever do something without thinking about the potential consequences? Whether they know you or not, and whether it’s intentional or not, these kids are asking you to do something that may cause you to be breaking the law. And when you think of it like that, it’s much easier to tell them no.

Know You’re Doing The Right Thing

Telling someone no can feel bad. But this is one instance where you should actually feel good about it. Saying no means keeping tobacco and vapor products out of the hands of people who are underage. That’s the right thing to do, and it will make you feel good when you think back on the experience.