Cancer Control Research5R01CA080288-05
Jason, Leonard A.
THE EFFECTS OF LAWS ON YOUTH PREVALENCE
Three thousand youngsters begin smoking every day, and smoking rates among adolescents are increasing. Restricting access to cigarettes and fining minors for possession of tobacco products could be effective strategies to reduce the rising rates of teenage smoking. It is unfortunate that the issue of whether or not minors are fined for possession of tobacco products has been infrequently studied, despite increasing interest among public health officials in this issue. It is possible that the combination of more consistent vendor enforcement and fining minors for possession of tobacco products is the optimal intervention for decreasing smoking prevalence rates among adolescents. The current proposed study will be a rigorous test of this hypothesis. The proposed study would examine the smoking habits of junior and senior high school students in 24 towns. Towns will be randomly assigned into two conditions. Half of the towns will receive regular vendor enforcement and will fine minors for tobacco possession, and the other towns will have vendor enforcements but will not fine minors. The towns in each condition will be matched for population size and median household income. It is predicted that the combined condition (i.e., the combination of vendor enforcements and fining minors for tobacco possession) will have significant influence on the students' rates of smoking, and that these rates will be most influenced in younger versus older minors. If these predicted findings do emerge, they will have an important influence on the ways in which public policy officials and community members consider interventions directed at lowering rates of smoking among their youth.