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Merchant Compliance Linked to Reduced Teen Smoking

Last Updated: April 20, 2009.

Greater merchant compliance with laws restricting the sale of tobacco to underage consumers has helped reduce smoking among adolescents, according to a study published online April 17 in BMC Public Health.

MONDAY, April 20 (HealthDay News) -- Greater merchant compliance with laws restricting the sale of tobacco to underage consumers has helped reduce smoking among adolescents, according to a study published online April 17 in BMC Public Health.

Joseph R. DiFranza, M.D., and colleagues from the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester, analyzed data from a 2003 national survey of 16,244 adolescents in the United States to examine the association between state compliance with tobacco sales laws and current daily smoking among adolescents.

The researchers found that after controlling for factors such as cigarette prices and demographic variables, higher average merchant compliance from 1997 to 2003 was associated with lower levels of current daily smoking (odds ratio reduced by 2 percent for each 1 percent increase in compliance). After controlling for changes in cigarette price, media campaigns and smoking restrictions, the improvement in merchant compliance reduced the odds of smoking by 20.8 percent in 10th graders in 2003. Price increases reduced the odds of smoking by 47 percent, according to the study.

"Federally mandated enforcement efforts by states to prevent the sale of tobacco to minors appear to have made an important contribution to the observed decline in smoking among youth in the United States," DiFranza and colleagues conclude. "Given similar results from long-term enforcement efforts in Australia, other countries should be encouraged to adopt the World Health Organization Framework on Tobacco Control strategies to reduce the sale of tobacco to minors."

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