Stopping Teenage Addiction to Tobacco

An Evidence-Based Practice


The Stopping Teenage Addiction to Tobacco (STAT) initiative is an environmental campaign to enforce laws against tobacco use by minors and to stimulate communities to implement other strategies such as banning cigarette vending machines or installing lockout devices on vending machines to curtail youth access to tobacco. Whereas traditional youth smoking prevention initiatives have concentrated on reducing the demand or desire for tobacco among youth, the STAT effort concentrates on cutting off the supply of tobacco to minors. STAT is an effort targeting law enforcement, vendors, and other community groups concerned with reducing the ability of minors to purchase tobacco.

Goal / Mission

The aim of the program is to persuade merchants to obey the law by refusing to sell tobacco to minors.

Results / Accomplishments

The town of Woodridge, Ill., was the first in the Nation to put a tough enforcement program in place. Woodridge implemented a law that instituted civil (not criminal) penalties aimed against store owners (rather than only individual clerks), progressively increased fees culminating in the suspension or revocation of tobacco venders' licenses, and regularly monitored compliance by using minors in unannounced purchase attempts.

The study examined the smoking habits of high school students in two Illinois communities that had regular enforcement of tobacco laws (Bolingbrook and Woodridge) and in comparison with adolescents in three that did not (Darien, Downers Grove, and Westmont). A total of 357 students participated in the study. Researchers found that restriction of access to tobacco seems to curb the development of regular smoking. Particularly, 8.1 percent of students in regular enforcement communities were regular smokers, in comparison with 15.5 percent in communities that did not have enforcement laws. Yet, among smokers, there were no differences in the overall number of cigarettes smoked. Additionally, those in regular enforcement communities used significantly less smokeless tobacco compared with students in no-regular-enforcement areas (8.7 percent versus 16.7 percent). Despite these promising results, cigarettes continue to be readily available to most youth. For example, even in regular enforcement areas only 25.5 percent of students said it was difficult or moderately difficult to get cigarettes. However, significantly fewer smokers obtained their cigarettes from stores in regular enforcement communities.

About this Promising Practice

Primary Contact
Joseph R. DiFranza, M.D.
Department of Family Medicine and Community Health
University of Massachusetts Medical School
55 Lake Avenue
Worcester, MA 01655
(508) 856-5658
Government & Politics / Programs, Policies, & Laws
Health / Substance Abuse
University of Massachusetts Medical School
The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention's Model Programs Guide (MPG)
Date of publication
For more details
Target Audience