Objective: Signatories of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control have committed themselves to prohibiting the sale of tobacco to minors. The tobacco industry has a long history of legal challenges to such restrictions claiming that they cannot be expected to reduce youth smoking. The object of this study was to determine if disrupting the sale of tobacco to minors can be expected to reduce tobacco use by youths.
Methods: A comprehensive literature search was conducted for studies that evaluated the impact on youth tobacco use of efforts to disrupt the sale of tobacco to youths.
Results: There was little evidence that merely enacting a law without sufficient enforcement had any impact on youth tobacco use. There was no evidence that merchant education programmes had any impact on youth older than 12 years of age. There was no evidence that enforcement efforts that failed to reduce the sale of tobacco to minors had any beneficial impact. All enforcement programmes that disrupted the sale of tobacco to minors reduced smoking among youth.
Conclusions: Government officials can expect that enforcement programmes that disrupt the sale of tobacco to minors will reduce adolescent smoking.