Aims: To examine existing evidence on the effectiveness of interventions that are designed to prevent the illegal sale of tobacco to young people. The review considers specific sub-questions related to the factors that might influence effectiveness, any differential effects for different sub-populations of youth, and barriers and facilitators to implementation.
Methods: A review of studies on the impact of interventions on young people under the age of 18 was conducted. It included interventions that were designed to prevent the illegal sale of tobacco to children and young people. The review was conducted in July 2007, and included 20 papers on access restriction studies. The quality of the papers was assessed and the relevant data was extracted.
Results: The evidence obtained from the review indicates that access restriction interventions may produce significant reductions in the rate of illegal tobacco sales to youth. However, lack of enforcement and the ability of youth to acquire cigarettes from social sources may undermine the effectiveness of these interventions.
Conclusions: When access interventions are applied in a comprehensive manner, they can affect young people's access to tobacco. However, further research is required to examine the effects of access restriction interventions on young people's smoking behaviour.
Keywords: Access restrictions; illegal sales; prevention; tobacco; youth.