Raising Legal Age for Tobacco Cuts Teen Smoking

By Robert Preidt
HealthDay reporter

TUESDAY April 27, 2021 (HealthDay News) – Raising the legal buying age is effective in reducing teenage smoking rates, according to a new study.

Researchers compared smoking habits among teens and young adults before and three years after a 2016 California law that raised the legal age for the sale of tobacco from 18 to 21.

The team at the University of California at Davis found that the “T21” law led to a greater decrease in daily smoking among 18-20 year olds than among 21-23 year olds.

“The good news is that the prevalence of ‘daily’ smoking among 18-20 year olds has fallen from 2.2% in 2016 to almost zero in 2019,” said Susan Stewart, study co-author, professor at the biostatistics division. in the Department of Public Health Sciences.

There was no decrease in non-daily smoking.

“One of the possible reasons we were able to see a decrease in ‘daily’ smoking, but not ‘non-daily’ smoking, is that ‘daily’ smokers are more likely to buy their own cigarettes – so they are more likely. to be affected by selling restrictions, ”Stewart said in a college press release.


In addition, there has been no decline in the rates of people who were current smokers or who have smoked in the past, according to the study, which was recently published in the journal. Preventive medecine.

The researchers said that possible reasons there was no decline in all types of smoking behavior after the law include: previous declines in smoking across the country; difficulties of application at the state level; increased use of other products such as electronic cigarettes and marijuana; sales outside retail stores; and other tobacco control policies.

“Most adult tobacco users start smoking cigarettes before the age of 18, when the brain is still developing and is particularly sensitive to nicotine and addiction,” the study author said. Melanie Dove, Assistant Professor in the Division of Health Policy and Management at the Department. of public health sciences.

“The new T21 law has the potential, over time, to significantly reduce the number of young people who start smoking regularly and that is why it is important to monitor the impact,” Dove said in the release.


“Future studies should examine the role of e-cigarette use, policy enforcement, as well as online sales,” said study co-author Dr. Elisa Tong, internist and professor. associate who leads smoking cessation initiatives at UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center. .

More information

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on youth smoking prevention.

SOURCE: University of California, Davis, press release, April 23, 2021

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