Legislative efforts to protect children from tobacco

JAMA. 1987 Jun 26;257(24):3387-9.


Public health laws intended to prevent children from smoking have been enacted in many states. We surveyed the relevant laws in all states and the District of Columbia. The efficacy of one such law prohibiting the sale of tobacco to individuals under the age of 18 years was assessed with the cooperation of an 11-year-old girl. She was successful in 75 of 100 attempts to purchase cigarettes. On the basis of this experience and a review of existing laws, we have made recommendations for a model law. These include a prohibition of the possession of tobacco by minors, a prohibition of the sale of tobacco to minors, a requirement for a warning sign at the point of sale, a ban on cigarette vending machines, and a reward for individuals reporting violators of vending laws.

KIE: The authors surveyed state and District of Columbia public health laws aimed at keeping tobacco products out of children's hands. They then tested the efficacy of the Massachusetts ban on selling tobacco to minors with the help of an 11-year-old assistant, who was able to purchase cigarettes from 75 of the 100 businesses that she visited. In view of the serious health consequences of nicotine addiction, which often begins in childhood, the authors make recommendations for a model law that would outlaw tobacco possession by children and the sale of tobacco products to individuals under 21, promote health education about tobacco, and regulate more strictly the sale and distribution of tobacco products in general.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior*
  • Child
  • Child Behavior*
  • Government Regulation*
  • Humans
  • Legislation as Topic*
  • Minors*
  • Plants, Toxic*
  • Smoking Prevention*
  • Tobacco*