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Tob Control. 2016 Nov;25(6):624-627. doi: 10.1136/tobaccocontrol-2015-052547. Epub 2015 Nov 19.

Retailer compliance with tobacco control laws in New York City before and after raising the minimum legal purchase age to 21.

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College of Global Public Health, New York University, New York, New York, USA.
Departments of Health Policy and Management and Community Health Sciences, Fielding School of Public Health, University of California, Los Angeles, California, USA.
Department of Nutrition, Food Studies and Public Health, Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development, New York University, New York, New York, USA.



New York City (NYC) is the first large city to increase the legal minimum age for possessing tobacco products from 18 to 21 (Tobacco 21) and establish a minimum price law to reduce smoking rates among youth. However, retailer compliance with these regulations is unknown.


Youthful investigators purchased cigarettes pre and post-Tobacco 21 implementation in 92 NYC neighbourhoods. Investigators recorded whether their ID was checked, the pack's purchase price, and observed compliance with additional regulations. Multivariable OLS and Poisson regression models assess pre and post Tobacco 21 compliance with ID checks and purchase prices, controlling for retailer type, location and compliance with other laws.


Retailer compliance with ID checks declined from 71% to 62% (p<0.004) between periods, and holding constant other factors, compliance with ID checks and sales at legal prices declined significantly after the laws changed. Compared to chain stores, independent retailers had significantly lower compliance rates (p<0.01).


Several aspects of tobacco control appear to have deteriorated in NYC. Greater attention to monitoring retailer compliance with all tobacco regulations will be important for Tobacco 21 laws to be effective in reducing youth access to tobacco products.


Price; Priority/special populations; Public policy; Surveillance and monitoring

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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