Behavioral, Physical, and Mental Health Advancing Teen Health Priorities

“Our research shows that raising the minimum sales age can prevent access to cigarettes, youth smoking, and ultimately nicotine addiction.”
–Shari Kessel Schneider, Project Director, MetroWest Adolescent Health Survey

Ten years after Needham, Massachusetts, became the first town in the United States to raise the minimum sales age for tobacco from 18 to 21, an EDC study demonstrated the significant impact this change can have on public health.

EDC’s study was the first in the nation to show direct evidence that increasing the tobacco sales age is associated with a decrease in smoking rates among youth. The results applied seven years of research as part of EDC’s administration of the MetroWest Adolescent Health Survey, one of the largest regional health surveys in the United States.

The study was published when a growing number of states and communities were taking a hard look at curbing teen smoking rates. Its results have been a critical piece of evidence in the fight to cut youth tobacco use and prevent addiction, and they have garnered coverage in the New York Times, the Boston Globe, the Chicago Tribune, and others.

Policymakers, too, have widely used EDC’s findings to promote legislation that limits young people’s access to tobacco. In Massachusetts alone, nearly 100 cities and towns have increased the tobacco sales age to 21. EDC’s research has informed conversations about similar legislation across the country.

FY 2015

Key Project Milestones

  • EDC completes fifth series of data collection on tobacco usage from 16,387 middle school and 24,355 high school students from 26 districts across Massachusetts.
  • EDC leads community and regional meetings on survey results, helping practitioners make sense of the data.
  • EDC publishes research on the impact of raising the minimum sales age for tobacco in the journal Tobacco Control.