In 1996, the federal government mandated that states enforce laws that prohibit the sale of cigarettes to minors. This research assesses whether increased enforcement helped lower the rate of smoking among youths.
The authors used the Monitoring the Future survey to analyze 1997–2003 data on merchant compliance and smoking rates among minors. The Monitoring the Future survey includes a nationally-representative sample of 15,244 adolescents.
Improved enforcement of smoking prohibitions appears to have substantially contributed to the decline in smoking rates among adolescents since 1997.