American adolescents who live in states that comply with tobacco sales laws are less likely to pick up a smoking habit than are those who live where the laws are not vigorously enforced, a new study has found.
And raising the price of a pack of cigarettes might have an equal, if not greater, effect, the study also showed.
"Efforts to prevent the sale of tobacco to children pay off," said study author Dr. Joseph R. DiFranza, a professor of family medicine and community health at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. "It's very effective at reducing the number of kids who smoke."
The researchers found that, as merchants more diligently enforced the ban on tobacco sales to minors and as the price of cigarettes rose, the likelihood of teens smoking dropped.
Improved compliance with the laws from 1997 to 2003 was credited with about a 21 percent decline in the likelihood of a teen smoking. Price increases for a pack of cigarettes during that time reduced the odds by about 47 percent, the study found.
The results appear online April 17 in the journal BMC Public Health.