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Raising the Legal Age of Tobacco Sales

Policy Support and Trust in Government, 2014–2015, U.S
  • Joseph G.L. Lee
    Correspondence
    Address correspondence to: Joseph G.L. Lee, PhD, MPH, 3104 Carol Belk Building, Greenville NC 27858
    Affiliations
    Department of Health Education and Promotion, College of Health and Human Performance, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina

    Department of Health Behavior, Gillings School of Global Public Health, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina
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  • Marcella H. Boynton
    Affiliations
    Department of Health Behavior, Gillings School of Global Public Health, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina

    Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, School of Medicine, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina
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  • Amanda Richardson
    Affiliations
    Department of Health Behavior, Gillings School of Global Public Health, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina
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  • Kristen Jarman
    Affiliations
    Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, School of Medicine, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina
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  • Leah M. Ranney
    Affiliations
    Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, School of Medicine, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina

    Department of Family Medicine, School of Medicine, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina
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  • Adam O. Goldstein
    Affiliations
    Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, School of Medicine, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina

    Department of Family Medicine, School of Medicine, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina
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      Introduction

      The National Academy of Medicine has called for an increase in the minimum age of tobacco product sales. It is not clear what age increase would garner the greatest public support, or whether trust in the U.S. government predicts policy support.

      Methods

      The data for these analyses are from a nationally representative telephone sample of U.S. adults (N=4,880) conducted from September 2014 to May 2015. The authors assessed whether support varied by the proposed minimum age of tobacco sales using a survey experiment (i.e., random assignment to the 19-, 20-, or 21-year age minimum condition) and, in cross-sectional analyses, whether smoking status, individual demographics, state-level politics, and general trust in the government predicted policy support. Analyses were conducted from May to December 2015.

      Results

      Odds of support for raising the minimum sales age to 21 years trended higher than support for raising to age 20 or 19 years (AOR=1.22, 95% CI=0.97, 1.53, p=0.09). There was majority support for raising the age of sales for cigarettes in all regions of the U.S. (66.3%, 95% CI=64.0, 68.6). Race, age, and trust in government were significant predictors of support.

      Conclusions

      Raising the age of tobacco sales is broadly supported by the public. An age 21 years tobacco sales policy trends toward garnering more support than a policy at age 19 or 20 years. Trust in government may be an important consideration in understanding policy support beyond demographics.
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