Tobacco-Control Laws on Clean Air and Youth Access are Enforced Differently

Assessing the implementation of tobacco-control laws

From 1994 to 1996, researchers at the RAND Corporation, Santa Monica, Calif., examined, through case studies of seven states, how tobacco control laws and ordinances are implemented and enforced by state and municipal authorities.

The research considered two types of strategies:

  • Clean indoor air laws that prohibit smoking in public places.
  • Youth access restrictions that prohibit tobacco sales to minors.

The project was part of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's (RWJF) national program Tobacco Policy Research and Evaluation Program.

Key Findings:

  • The study found that state and local clean indoor air laws were rarely enforced by government agencies. In contrast, teen access laws were often enforced through periodic vendor compliance checks.
  • The study found that effective enforcement was linked to legislation that provided specific enforcement mechanisms such as license suspension and removal.
  • The study also found that tobacco control forces focused most of their resources on enacting legislation and did not devote a significant amount of resources to implementation and enforcement issues.