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Does the Minimum Cigarette Purchase Age of 21 Protect Young Mothers from Cigarettes, Help Their Babies?


  • Ji Yan


A key target of the U.S. health policies is to reduce costly adverse birth outcomes to which prenatal smoking is one of the most signi cant contributors. This paper represents the rst attempt to examine whether implementing the minimum cigarette purchase age of 21 can curb smoking among young mothers and thus improve their newborn's health. The research question is crucial because young mothers are heavily engaged in smoking and have poorer birth outcomes, and because the smoking prevalence and intensity among Pennsylvania young childbearing women have also exceeded the national average. I nd robust evidence that the 21 smoking age leads to a 15 percent decline in the daily cigarettes smoked, a 19 percent decrease in the probability of having a low birth weight baby among all the mothers, and improvements on other birth outcomes such as longer gestation and higher APGAR scores. Such results contribute to the growing literature on the important role of a healthy fetal en- vironment in the newborn well-beings. The uncovered large intergenerational bene ts due to this regulation also shed new light on the current political debate in many states on whether shifting the legal smoking age up to 21. Key Words: Prenatal Smoking, Infant Health, Minimum Cigarette Purchase Age

Suggested Citation

  • Ji Yan, 2011. "Does the Minimum Cigarette Purchase Age of 21 Protect Young Mothers from Cigarettes, Help Their Babies?," Working Papers 11-17, Department of Economics, Appalachian State University.
  • Handle: RePEc:apl:wpaper:11-17

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. David S. Lee & Thomas Lemieux, 2010. "Regression Discontinuity Designs in Economics," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 48(2), pages 281-355, June.
    2. Imbens, Guido W. & Lemieux, Thomas, 2008. "Regression discontinuity designs: A guide to practice," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 142(2), pages 615-635, February.
    3. Evans, William N. & Ringel, Jeanne S., 1999. "Can higher cigarette taxes improve birth outcomes?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 72(1), pages 135-154, April.
    4. Fertig, Angela R. & Watson, Tara, 2009. "Minimum drinking age laws and infant health outcomes," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(3), pages 737-747, May.
    5. Douglas Almond & Janet Currie, 2011. "Killing Me Softly: The Fetal Origins Hypothesis," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 25(3), pages 153-172, Summer.
    6. Jere R. Behrman & Mark R. Rosenzweig, 2004. "Returns to Birthweight," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 86(2), pages 586-601, May.
    7. Dee, Thomas S., 1999. "The complementarity of teen smoking and drinking," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(6), pages 769-793, December.
    8. Case, Anne & Fertig, Angela & Paxson, Christina, 2005. "The lasting impact of childhood health and circumstance," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(2), pages 365-389, March.
    9. Evans, William N. & Lien, Diana S., 2005. "The benefits of prenatal care: evidence from the PAT bus strike," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 125(1-2), pages 207-239.
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    Cited by:

    1. Ceren Ertan Yörük & Barş K. Yörük, 2016. "Do Minimum Legal Tobacco Purchase Age Laws Work?," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 34(3), pages 415-429, July.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior
    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health

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