Objective: To assess the effect that cigarette legislation would have on reducing merchant sales rates of cigarettes to minors and the affect on adolescent smoking behavior.
Design: Observational survey of merchant selling behaviors and adolescent smoking habits before and after passage of legislation.
Setting: The setting for the merchant survey was Woodridge, Ill (population 25,200), a suburban community of Chicago. The surveys were distributed to adolescents in the local junior high school.
Participants: Convenience sample of both merchants and adolescent students.
Intervention: Passage of community antismoking legislation.
Main outcome measures: Percentage of stores selling cigarettes to minors in Woodridge and percentage of students who had experimented with cigarettes or were regular smokers.
Results: Merchant sales rates in Woodridge decreased from a baseline of 70% before legislation to less than 5% in 1.5 years of compliance checking after legislation. Student surveys showed that the rates of cigarette experimentation and regular use of cigarettes by adolescents were reduced by over 50%.
Conclusion: Cigarette control laws can be effective in significantly reducing the rate of cigarettes sold by merchants and rates of cigarette use by adolescents. Key elements of successful legislation implementation are consistent compliance checking and heightened community awareness of the problems and prevalence of adolescent smoking.