Kennedy, J. P., & Wilson, J. M. (2017). Clicking into harm’s way: the decision to purchase regulated goods online. American Behavioral Scientist, 61(11), 1358-1386. doi:10.1177/0002764217734264

The growth of the Internet has expanded e-commerce, opening a vast array of purchasing options for consumers while also increasing illicit sales. Such sales place consumers at risk. This study examines consumers’ decisions to purchase cigarettes and prescription pharmaceuticals, two highly regulated goods, from online vendors. Drawing on a statewide survey of nearly 1,000 residents in Michigan, we assess the prevalence of Internet purchases of these goods, the differences between those who make these purchases online and those who do not, and the factors associated with Internet purchase decisions. In general, it was discovered that the prevalence of Internet purchases of these goods is relatively low, but the frequency with which the sales are illicit is relatively high. Additionally, the factors that explain the decision by consumers to purchase these items online and their reasons for doing so vary by product type. The study offers a discussion of these findings and their implications for crime prevention and further research.