Laws prohibiting the sale of tobacco to minors: impact and adverse consequences

Am J Prev Med. 2006 Jul;31(1):47-51. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2006.03.014.


This paper discusses the consequences of laws that prohibit the sale of tobacco to minors. When enforced, such laws may decrease tobacco sales to minors, but local authorities are often reluctant to enforce these laws. However, the prohibition of tobacco sales to minors is often followed by an increase in the use of tobacco obtained from social sources, mainly family and friends. Importantly, these laws do not decrease smoking prevalence among minors. Several local laws prohibit youths from purchasing, using, and possessing tobacco. However, these laws shift responsibility from retailers to youth, criminalizing young smokers. Those who advocate this type of approach have not documented the adverse consequences of laws that prohibit minors from purchasing, using, or possessing tobacco. In conclusion, youth access laws are ineffective and are not based on sound science.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior*
  • Humans
  • Smoking / adverse effects
  • Smoking / epidemiology
  • Smoking / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • United States / epidemiology