Study: Smoke-free restaurant laws curb teen smoking

July 1, 2008

A significant decrease in the likelihood of teen smoking has been linked to strong smoking regulations in restaurants.

Strong smoking regulations in restaurants are linked to a significant decrease in the likelihood that teens will become established smokers, according to a study that followed over 2,000 young people for four years. Participants were more than 3,800 youths from 301 Massachusetts communities ages 12 to 17 at baseline. About 2,800 (73%) were re-interviewed after two years, and 2,200 (57.8%) were re-interviewed after four years.

Youths in towns with strong restaurant smoking regulations were significantly less likely than those in towns with weak regulations to progress to established smoking (having smoked 100 or more cigarettes). This association applied exclusively to the transition from experimentation (having smoked between one and 99 cigarettes) to established smoking, and to young people ages 12 to 17. It did not apply to the transition from not smoking to experimentation, or to those ages 18 to 21 (Siegel M et al: Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med 2008;162:477).

Commentary:

DR. BURKE, section editor for Journal Club, is chairman of the department of pediatrics at Saint Agnes Hospital, Baltimore. He is a contributing editor for Contemporary Pediatrics. He has nothing to disclose in regard to affiliations with, or financial interests in, any organization that may have an interest in any part of this article.