Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Retailer compliance with tobacco control laws in New York City before and after raising the minimum legal purchase age to 21
  1. Diana Silver1,
  2. James Macinko2,
  3. Margaret Giorgio1,
  4. Jin Yung Bae3,
  5. Geronimo Jimenez3
  1. 1College of Global Public Health, New York University, New York, New York, USA
  2. 2Departments of Health Policy and Management and Community Health Sciences, Fielding School of Public Health, University of California, Los Angeles, California, USA
  3. 3Department of Nutrition, Food Studies and Public Health, Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development, New York University, New York, New York, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Diana Silver, College of Global Public Health, New York University, 411 Lafayette Street, New York, NY 10003 USA; diana.silver{at}


Objectives 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.

Methods 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.

Results 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).

Conclusions 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.

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

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.


  • Contributors DS conceived of and oversaw the study and drafted the manuscript. JM provided guidance to the analysis and interpretation of results, revised drafts of the manuscript and helped conceptualise the study. MG conducted the analyses and contributed to the draft. JYB oversaw a component of the data collection and aided in the interpretation of the findings. GJ directed a component of the data collection and edited and assisted the preparation of the manuscript.

  • Funding This study was funded by the Institute for Human Development and Social Change (IHDSC), at New York University.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Ethics approval This study was approved by New York University's University Committee on Activities Involving Human Subjects in January, 2014.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.