The purpose of the first study, published in Sage Journals, was to determine whether the presence and strength of local smoke-free ordinances was associated with cigarette and smokeless tobacco use among high school students in Kentucky, and whether use varied by urban/rural location.
The researchers used data from more than 353,000 10th and 12th graders in the 2004-2018 biennial Kentucky Incentives for Prevention Survey. The smoke-free ordinance data came from the Kentucky Center for Smoke-Free Policy at the University of Kentucky.
The center said in a news release that UK researchers “found that high-school students living in Kentucky counties with a comprehensive smoke-free law are 23% less likely to smoke cigarettes and 16% less likely to use smokeless tobacco compared to those living in counties with a partial smoke-free law or no law.”
Also, “Students in counties with moderate/weak laws did not differ in likelihood of use for either product, compared to those in counties without a law.”
Comprehensive smoke-free laws prohibit smoking inside all workplaces and public places.
The study also found that rural youth may be more likely to smoke.
“Students in urban counties were 14% less likely to smoke, but there was no difference in likelihood of smokeless use by urban/rural location,” says the report.
In conclusion, the researchers write, “Given that nearly half of U.S. youth are not protected by smoke-free laws, advocacy for comprehensive smoke-free workplace laws in all states and municipalities may be an important component in reducing the prospect of youth cigarette and smokeless tobacco use.”
In Kentucky, nearly 5% of high-school students smoke cigarettes and nearly 22% of them use electrinic cigarettes, according to data from the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.
A separate study, published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, that looked at how changes in state tobacco-control policies impacted youth e-cigarette use in 2013-19. It found that adolescents were 55% less likely to use e-cigarettes following the enactment of a statewide comprehensive smoke-free law than before the state had a law.
The researchers then compared this to the impact of age-of-purchase laws and e-cigarette excise taxes and found that comprehensive smoke-free laws had the biggest impact on youth vaping.
“Youth were 21% less likely to use e-cigarettes when their state had a minimum age-of-purchase law than when they did not,” says the release.
In addition, the study found that “while changes in tobacco excise taxes did not have a statistically significant impact, adolescents who lived in states with higher average cigarette excise taxes were more likely to use e-cigarettes.”