Long-Term Effects of Laws Governing Youth Access to Tobacco

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Abstract

Objectives

We sought to examine the association between policies governing access to tobacco during adolescence and subsequent adult smoking.

Methods

We analyzed adult smoking data from the 1998 through 2006-2007 administrations of the US Current Population Survey Tobacco Use Supplement by employing a quasi experimental approach. Participants (n = 105 519) were adults, aged 18 to 34 years at the time of the survey. Smoking outcomes included having ever smoked 100 cigarettes, smoking at the time of the survey, and having smoked 10 or more cigarettes a day conditioned on being an ever smoker. These were predicted from exposure to state youth access policies at age 17 years.

Results

Four of the 9 policies exhibited significant associations with reduced prevalence of 1 or more smoking outcomes, primarily among women. Lesser effects for other policies could not be ruled out.

Conclusions

Restrictions on youth access to tobacco might lead to reduction in smoking prevalence later in adulthood. The effect might be limited to women; we estimate that having all policies in place could be associated with a 14% reduction in lifetime smoking prevalence for women, and an additional 29% reduction in heavy smoking among ever smokers.

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