The “We Card” Program: Tobacco Industry “Youth Smoking Prevention” as Industry Self-Preservation (2010)

Authors: Dorie Apollonio and Ruth Malone


The “We Card” program is the most ubiquitous tobacco industry “youth smoking prevention” program in the United States, and its retailer materials have been copied in other countries. The program’s effectiveness has been questioned, but no previous studies have examined its development, goals, and uses from the tobacco industry’s perspective.

On the basis of our analysis of tobacco industry documents released under the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement, we concluded that the We Card program was undertaken for 2 primary purposes: to improve the tobacco industry’s image and to reduce regulation and the enforcement of existing laws. Policymakers should be cautious about accepting industry self-regulation at face value, both because it redounds to the industry’s benefit and because it is ineffective.

Read more: American Journal of Public Health