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Do E-Cigarette Retail Licensure Laws Reduce Tobacco Use?
NBER
2024.05.16
E-cigarette licensure laws (ELLs) require retailers to obtain a state license to sell e-cigarettes over the counter. This study is the first to comprehensively explore the effect of ELL adoption on youth and adult tobacco product use. Using data from the State Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) and a difference-in-differences approach, we find no evidence that ELL adoption reduces overall youth ENDS use. The precision of our estimates allows us to rule out, with 95 percent confidence, ELL-induced prior-month youth ENDS use declines of more than 3.4 percent. The pattern of null findings persists when we examine ELLs that impose (1) higher penalties for retailer non-compliance, (2) higher renewable licensure fees, and (3) criminal as compared to civil penalties. However, we do uncover evidence that adoption of ELLs with higher penalties associated with a modest reduction in ENDS use among Black teens. We conclude that ELLs have only limited success in curbing access to ENDS.