NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

The Effects of E-Cigarette Minimum Legal Sale Age Laws on Youth Substance Use

Dhaval Dave, Bo Feng, Michael F. Pesko

NBER Working Paper No. 23313
Issued in April 2017, Revised in November 2017
NBER Program(s):Children, Health Care, Health Economics, Public Economics

We use difference-in-differences models and individual-level data from the national and state Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS) from 2005 to 2015 to examine the effects of e-cigarette Minimum Legal Sale Age (MLSA) laws on youth cigarette smoking, alcohol consumption, and marijuana use. Our results suggest that these laws increased youth smoking participation by about one percentage point, approximately half of which could be attributed to smoking initiation. We find little evidence of higher cigarette smoking persisting beyond the point at which youth age out of the law. Our results also show little effect of the law on youth drinking, binge drinking, and marijuana use. Taken together, our findings suggest a possible unintended effect of e-cigarette MLSA laws—rising cigarette use in the short term while youth are restricted from purchasing e-cigarettes.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w23313

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