ST. LOUIS (KMOX) - A local study finds that making it harder for teenagers to buy tobacco appears to reduce smoking rates.
Washington University’s Richard Grucza tracked data from a National Cancer Institute monitoring program and found tough state laws and policies helped stop teens from buying tobacco.
However, in many places there are easy ways to get around the laws, including vending machine sales or prepackaging cigarettes in smaller amounts.
“Free distribution restrictions – so, free samples – is another sort of common way for underage kids to get access,” Grucza said.
Grucza says the four policies that had the largest impact – tougher ID laws, vending machine restrictions, repackaging restrictions and eliminating those free samples – could have an even larger impact if they were uniformly enforced in every state.
“We estimate that would actually reduce the prevalence of smoking by about 14 percent, at least in women,” he said.
The study, published June 13 in the American Journal of Public Health, found laws reduce smoking rates during the teenage years and also later in life.