Tobacco Retail Licensing and Youth Product Use

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Author(s): Department of Preventive MedicineKeck School of MedicineUniversity of Southern California

  • Roee L. Astor, MPH | Robert Urman, PhD | Jessica L. Barrington-Trimis, PhD | Kiros Berhane, PhD | Jane Steinberg, PhD | Michael Cousineau, PhD | Adam M. Leventhal, PhD | Jennifer B. Unger, PhD | Tess Cruz, PhD | Mary Ann Pentz, PhD | Rob McConnell, MD

Colorado School of Public Health, University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Center

  • Jonathan M. Samet, MD, MS

Published: January 2019 in Pediatrics

Report Intro/Brief:
Background: Restricting youth access to tobacco is a central feature of US tobacco regulatory policy, but impact of local tobacco retail licensing (TRL) regulation on cigarette smoking rates remains uncertain. Effects of TRL on other tobacco product use and use as adolescents reach the age to legally purchase tobacco products has not been investigated.

Methods: Prevalences of ever and past 30-day cigarette, electronic cigarette (e-cigarette), cigar, and hookah use were assessed in a survey of a cohort of 1553 11th- and 12th-grade adolescents (mean age: 17.3 years); rates of initiation were evaluated 1.5 years later. An American Lung Association (2014) youth access grade was assigned to each of 14 political jurisdictions in which participants lived on the basis of the strength of the local TRL ordinance.

Results: At baseline, participants living in 4 jurisdictions with “A” grades (ie, with most restrictive ordinances) had lower odds of ever cigarette use (odds ratio [OR] 0.61; 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.41–0.90) and of past 30-day use (OR 0.51; 95% CI 0.29–0.89) than participants in 10 D- to F-grade jurisdictions. At follow-up at legal age of purchase, lower odds of cigarette use initiation (OR 0.67; 95% CI 0.45–0.99) occurred in jurisdictions with stronger TRL policy. Lower odds of e-cigarette initiation at follow-up (OR 0.74; 95% CI 0.55–0.99) and of initiation with past 30-day use (OR 0.45; 95% CI 0.23–0.90) were also associated with better regulation.

Conclusions: 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 in reduced e-cigarette use. 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. Continued monitoring is needed to assess the impact on the effectiveness of TRL policy within the rapidly evolving tobacco product patterns of use, new national regulation, and poorly regulated Internet sales.”

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