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Youth Access Tobacco Laws May Reduce Adult Smoking Prevalence

Laws that restrict youth access to may reduce smoking prevalence in adulthood, especially for women, according to new research from the .

The study evaluated the long-term effects of nine youth access tobacco policies, including cigarette vending machine , for purchase and requirements that would randomly inspect retailers to ensure compliance with youth access laws. Data from the Tobacco Use Supplement of the Current Population Survey was used to analyze the potential effects of the policies. Participants over the age of 18 were identified as those who had ever smoked, never smoked or currently smoked.

Results indicated an association between reduced smoking prevalence and restricted access policies largely among women. Four policies showed the strongest indication of being correlated with lower smoking prevalence: vending machine restrictions, identification requirements, repackaging restrictions (requiring that cigarettes be packaged and sealed in a manner that meets federal labeling standards) and restrictions on free-sample distribution.

Individually, researchers estimated that each policy could reduce the odds of smoking by 3.6 percent for women, yet exposure to all four policies could reduce prevalence by 14 percent. Collectively, they could result in a 29 percent reduction in odds for heavy smoking among those who had smoked 100 or more cigarettes in their lifetime.

“Taken together, these findings offer evidence that youth access policies may promote lower rates of smoking initiation among women, in addition to possibly leading to lighter smoking or quitting,” the study’s authors suggest.


“Long-term effects of laws governing youth access to tobacco.” Contact: Richard Grucza, PhD, Department of Psychiatry, Washington University School of Medicine.

For more new research on smoking and tobacco, the following studies may be of interest:
“Undertreatment of tobacco use compared to other chronic conditions,” Steven Bernstein, MD
“When does televised anti-smoking advertising generate quitting outcomes? The effects of level and duration of exposure,” Sally Dunlop, PhD
“Effects of state medical marijuana laws on adolescent marijuana use,” Sarah Lynne-Landsman, PhD

American Journal of Public Health