Study: Raising the age limit reduced both vejp and cigarette use

A new study in the US has examined the impact of raising the legal age for tobacco sales from 18 to 21. The results show significant reductions in the use of both regular cigarettes and e-cigarettes among high school students. 

The study, published in the Journal of Health Economics, used data from 2012 to 2019 and found that tobacco sales decreased by 12.4 per cent for regular cigarettes and by 69.3 per cent for e-cigarettes in areas that implemented the so-called 'Tobacco 21' legislation. T21 raised the age limit for buying tobacco products from 18 to 21.

Higher age limit and ID checks

The researchers behind the study, Rahi Abouk, Prabal K. De and Michael F. Pesko, used both survey data from 'Monitoring the Future' and sales data from 'Nielsen Retail Scanner' to analyse the impact of the legislation. The study specifically focused on young people in 12th grade - the equivalent of the third year of upper secondary school in Sweden. The researchers also investigated the mechanisms behind the effects of the T21 laws, such as increased ID checks at purchase and changing risk perceptions of tobacco products.

21-year limit supported by many

The report recognises that tobacco use is a significant health risk in the US and that the majority of smokers start before the age of 21. 

"Raising the age limit to that age could help reduce tobacco use among young people and thus prevent earlier onset and addiction," the researchers write.

 T21 laws have been implemented at both local and state level. The legislative changes have received support from various sources, including prevention organisations and health experts.

There was a clear decline in use

The study finds that the T21 laws have a clear effect on tobacco use among young people, with particularly large reductions among '12th graders' aged 17-18. The researchers believe this effect may be partly linked to increased ID checks on purchases and changing risk perceptions of tobacco products. The findings are claimed to be of importance for future tobacco policy and can help inform policy makers about the effectiveness of different measures to reduce tobacco use among young people. 

Better desired effect than bans

One of the researchers, Michael Pesko, has previously led studies looking at the link between flavour bans and tax increases for e-cigarettes in relation to cigarette sales. These studies have shown that cigarette sales among youth and minors rather increased with the introduction of e-cigarette restrictions.

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