States that want to reduce adult smoking rates may consider the introduction of severe restrictions on tobacco teenagers, suggests a new study by researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.
The researchers found that states with more stringent restrictions on the purchase of tobacco adolescents also have a lower rate of smoking adults, especially among women. And compared with states with less restrictive limits, they also tend to have fewer adult smokers.
The study is published online June 13 in the American Journal of Public Health.
“In most states, for many years, it was illegal to sell cigarettes to people fewer than 18, but several provisions aimed at preventing these sales,” said the study’s first author Richard A. Grucza, Ph.D., associate professor of psychiatry. “This study shows that the more restrictive policy can prevent youth smoking and to be useful in the future.”
Grucza team evaluated data from the ongoing National Cancer Institute survey that monitors the behavior of smoking in all 50 states.
The study of data collected from 1998 to 2007 of 105519 persons aged 18 to 34, the researchers looked at whether people have ever smoked, whether they are currently prohibited, and if they did smoke, whether they smoked more than 10 cigarettes a day.
They also looked at the smoking restrictions in place in the States, when the subjects were 17 years of age.
“We looked at the age of 17 years, because in most states, it was illegal for anyone under 18 years of age to purchase tobacco products”, Grucza said.
But individual states chose to enforce the laws varied. Grucza team focused on nine smoking-related policies and found that in countries with enforcement policies that are not only 17-year-olds harder buying cigarettes, but that when they reached 20 or 30 years, they were less likely to smoke.
“We estimate that if all states of effective policies in place, it will lead to a reduction in smoking prevalence by about 15% and the rate of smoking by 30%,” he said.
The four most effective restrictions include those on cigarette vending machines in which the machines were either liquidated or placed in locations that are inaccessible to individuals under the age of 18 years, the definition of requirements for the purchase of cigarettes, limiting the re-packaging cigarettes so that five or 10 could be sold for one time, rather than an entire 20-pack of cigarettes, and prohibit the distribution of free cigarettes at public events.
Because cigarettes were regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2009, many of the more restrictive policy in effect national team Grucza believes that the future level of smoking in the adult population may be reduced at least partially as a result of this policy.
Interestingly, they found the policy to restrict youth access to tobacco has had a great impact on women, but did not seem to affect smoking among men.
“We can only guess as to why, but the number of previous studies have shown that women and underage girls are often easier to get alcohol and tobacco to minors than men”, Grucza said. “We suspect that the policies, such as those that require checking IDs may even things out and make it as difficult for young women to buy cigarettes, as well as for juvenile males.”
As more and more states across the country, implement and enforce a more restrictive policy, Grucza expects they can further reduce smoking.
“Many states have not adopted these policies,” he said. “In 2006, which is the last year for which we have data, only four states require photo identification, and only 20 states had any identification requirements at all. Thus, there is still much room for improvement.”
Grucza said that some states are considering restricting access of young people even more. In New York, there is a proposal to rise the age for buying tobacco to 21. Meanwhile, in Alabama, Mississippi, Alaska, and Utah, the minimum age for buying tobacco has been raised to 19.
Funding for this research comes from the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). It was also supported by grants from the American Cancer Society and the American Foundation for Suicide Preventi