Local tobacco retail licensing may decrease the rates of cigarette and e-cigarette use in adolescents and young adults, according to study results published in Pediatrics.
“Key regulatory features that are reported to reduce both compliance violations and youth cigarette use include a mandatory tobacco retailer licensing fee to provide sustainable funding of undercover decoys to make at least one annual visit to each vendor and fines or penalties for violations,” the researchers wrote. “Low rates of vendor compliance checks, which occur annually at only a small fraction of tobacco vendors under existing state and federal enforcement programs, and inadequate penalties may explain why association with youth smoking rates have consistently been observed.”
Researchers conducted a survey of 2,097 11th- and 12th-grade students (mean age, 17.3 years) in the Southern California Children’s Health Study between January and June 2014. The students completed self-administered questionnaires about cigarette and alternative tobacco use. The researchers then conducted follow-up online questionnaires between January 2015 and June 2016 with 1,553 participants (74% of baseline) when the students reached 18 years of age. They assigned an American Lung Association youth access grade to each of the 14 political jurisdictions across 12 participating Children’s Health Study communities based on the strength of local tobacco retail licensing (TRL) ordinance.
Participants living in four jurisdictions with “A” grades based on the 2014 American Lung Association “Reducing Sales of Tobacco Products” to youth scale, which is used to evaluate the strength of TRL ordinances in California, had lower odds of ever using cigarettes (OR = 0.61; 95% CI, 0.41-0.9) and past 30-day use (OR = 0.51; 95% CI, 0.29-0.89) at baseline compared with participants living in jurisdictions graded with Ds or Fs. When the students were followed up at an age when they could legally purchase tobacco products, they were less likely to start using cigarettes (OR = 0.67; 95% CI, 0.45-0.99) in jurisdictions with stronger TRL policy. The researchers also reported that better TRL regulation was associated with lower odds of e-cigarette initiation at follow-up (OR = 0.74: 95% CI, 0.55-0.99) in the A-grade jurisdictions compared with D- or F-grade jurisdictions.
“The results suggest that a strong local TRL ordinance that provides adequate resources to fund regular compliance checks and enforcement may result in large reductions in the use of cigarettes and may also result reduced e-cigarette use,” the researchers concluded. “The benefits of these policies may extend into early adult life. The study also suggests that the success of future FDA regulation to reduce youth cigarette and alternative tobacco product access and use, under rules deeming these products to be subject to FDA regulation, may depend on the availability of resources for universal annual compliance checks and enforcement targeted to both traditional and alternative tobacco product vendors.” – by Bruce Thiel
Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.