PURPOSE: The purpose of this study was to use individual-level data to examine the relationship between e-cigarette minimum legal sale age (MLSA) laws and cigarette smoking among U.S. adolescents, adjusting for e-cigarette use.
METHODS: In 2016 and 2017, we regressed (logistic) current (past 30-day) cigarette smoking (from 2009-2014 National Youth Tobacco Surveys [NYTS]) on lagged (laws enacted each year counted for the following year) and unlagged (laws enacted January-June counted for that year) state e-cigarette MLSA laws prohibiting sales to youth aged <18 or <19 years (depending on the state). Models were adjusted for year and individual- (e-cigarette and other tobacco use, sex, race/ethnicity, and age) and state-level (smoke-free laws, cigarette taxes, medical marijuana legalization, income, and unemployment) covariates.
RESULTS: Cigarette smoking was not significantly associated with lagged MLSA laws after adjusting for year (odds ratio [OR] = .87, 95% confidence interval [CI]: .73-1.03; p = .10) and covariates (OR = .85, .69-1.03; p = .10). Unlagged laws were significantly and negatively associated with cigarette smoking (OR = .84, .71-.98, p = .02), but not after adjusting for covariates (OR = .84, .70-1.01, p = .07). E-cigarette and other tobacco use, sex, race/ethnicity, age, and smoke-free laws were associated with cigarette smoking (p <.05). Results unadjusted for e-cigarette use and other tobacco use yielded a significant negative association between e-cigarette MLSA laws and cigarette smoking (lagged: OR = .78, .64-.93, p = .01; unlagged: OR = .80, .68-.95, p = .01).
CONCLUSIONS: After adjusting for covariates, state e-cigarette MLSA laws did not affect youth cigarette smoking. Unadjusted for e-cigarette and other tobacco use, these laws were associated with lower cigarette smoking.