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
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