T21 reduced cigarette sales by 12.3% and e-cigarette sales by 49.1%

Rahi Abouk

William Paterson University

Prabal K. De

City College of New York; CUNY Graduate Center

Michael Pesko

Georgia State University – Department of Economics

Date Written: December 28, 2021



We examine the effect of Tobacco 21 laws (T21), which raise the minimum legal sale age of tobacco to 21. We estimate difference-in-differences models using the Monitoring the Future (MTF) survey data and Nielsen Retail Scanner data from 2012 to 2019. Our outcomes include cigarette and e-cigarette use and sales and potential mechanisms of T21 such as perceived risks of using cigarettes and e-cigarettes and retailer ID checking. We find that T21 sizably reduces 12th grade cigarette use by 35 percent and modestly reduces cigarette use for 8th and 10th graders. We also find some evidence that T21 reduces e-cigarette use across all grades. We find that T21 increases ID checking and perceived risks of both tobacco products. Finally, analyses of the 2012-2019 Nielsen Retail Scanner Data suggest that in counties with the highest quartile of the share of individuals under 21, T21 reduced cigarette sales by 12.3% and e-cigarette sales by 49.1%.

Keywords: Youth Smoking, Tobacco 21

JEL Classification: I12, I18

Abouk, Rahi and De, Prabal and Pesko, Michael, Estimating the Effects of Tobacco-21 on Youth Tobacco Use and Sales (December 28, 2021). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3737506 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3737506


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Last revised: December 31, 2021

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