Impact of Tobacco Control Policies on Adolescent Smoking

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Purpose Our aims were to examine the impact of cigarette taxes and smoke-free legislation on current adolescent smoking and smoking frequency overall as well as test whether there were differential policy effects by age. Methods Using data on 717,543 adolescents from 43 states in the 1999-2013 Youth Risk Behavior Surveys, we used difference-in-differences regression models to evaluate the impact of tobacco control policies on current adolescent smoking (yes/no) and, separately, smoking frequency (defined as 0, 1-5, 6-29, 30+ days per month). We tested an interaction between age and cigarette taxes and, separately, smoke-free legislation. Results From 1999 to 2013, adolescent smoking decreased from 35.3% to 13.9% and 41 of 43 states increased their cigarette tax in real terms by an average of 257%. By the end of the study period, 29 of 43 states had 100% smoke-free restaurant legislation. Although we found no overall effect of cigarette taxes on current smoking, there was a significant interaction by age. Among 14- and 15-year olds, every $1.00 cigarette tax increase was associated with a 2.2 and 1.6 percentage point reduction in smoking, respectively. The enactment of 100% smoke-free restaurant legislation was associated with an overall reduction in adolescent smoking by 1.1 percentage points and there were no differences by age. Cigarette taxes and smoke-free legislation were also associated with decreased smoking frequency. Conclusions The youngest adolescents are the most price sensitive, and cigarette taxes continue to be a successful approach to reduce adolescent smoking. Smoke-free legislation may also be an effective strategy to reduce smoking among all adolescents.




Hawkins, S. S., Bach, N., & Baum, C. F. (2016). Impact of Tobacco Control Policies on Adolescent Smoking. Journal of Adolescent Health, 58(6), 679–685.

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