Attitudes Toward Raising the Minimum Age of Sale for Tobacco Among U.S. Adults

Am J Prev Med. 2015 Oct;49(4):583-8. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2015.05.012. Epub 2015 Jul 7.


Introduction: Efforts to disrupt tobacco sales to minors through age of sale restrictions can contribute to reductions in youth tobacco use. The objective of this study was to assess attitudes toward raising the minimum tobacco age of sale to 21 years among U.S. adults.

Methods: Data from the 2014 Summer Styles, an Internet survey of U.S. adults aged ≥18 years (N=4,219), were analyzed in 2014. Respondents were asked: Do you favor or oppose raising the legal minimum age to purchase all tobacco products from 18 to 21? Responses included: strongly favor, somewhat favor, somewhat oppose, and strongly oppose. ORs and 95% CIs were calculated using logistic regression; covariates included sex, age, race/ethnicity, education, income, region, and cigarette smoking status.

Results: Among all adults, 50.4% strongly and 24.6% somewhat favored raising the age to 21 years; 77.5% of never smokers, 74.6% of former smokers, and 69.9% of current smokers strongly or somewhat favored it. Adjusted odds of strongly or somewhat favoring raising the age were higher among adults aged 25-44 (OR=1.8, 95% CI=1.3, 2.5), 45-64 (OR=2.3, 95% CI=1.7, 3.2), and ≥65 (OR=3.1, 95% CI=2.2, 4.5) years, and lower among former (OR=0.7, 95% CI=0.6, 0.9) and current (OR=0.7, 95% CI=0.5, 0.8) smokers.

Conclusions: Three quarters of adults favor raising the minimum tobacco age of sale to 21 years, including seven in ten smokers. Raising the minimum age of sale, along with proven tobacco control strategies, could prevent youth tobacco use.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Government Regulation*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Tobacco Products*
  • Young Adult