Ruhr Economic Papers

Ruhr Economic Papers #173

Public Smoking Bans, Youth Access Laws, and Cigarette Sales at Vending Machines

by Michael Kvasnicka

RWI, 03/2010, 25 S./p., 8 Euro, ISBN 978-3-86788-193-7



Tobacco control policies have proliferated in many countries in recent years, in particular youth access laws and public smoking bans. The effectiveness of youth access laws is still disputed, however, as are the costs of public smoking bans to the hospitality industry. Using a unique data set on cigarette sales at more than 100k vending machines that provides fi rst objective evidence on the outgoing and customer behavior of smokers, we study both outcome dimensions by investigating several recent tobacco control measures in Germany. We find a large negative effect on cigarette sales of a nation-wide introduction of devices for electronic age verification in cigarette vending machines, particularly at machines placed outdoors and in localities that are strongly frequented by youths. In contrast, there is no evidence that a country-wide smoking ban in federal buildings affected cigarette sales in these premises and only weak evidence that a recent rise in the minimum legal smoking age affected cigarette purchases by youths. Finally, state-level smoking bans appear to have reduced indoor sales of cigarettes at vending machines, especially in bars. However, the magnitude of the estimated eff ect is rather modest, suggesting that businesses in the hospitality industry are unlikely to have been affected severely.

JEL-Classification: I18, K32, L51

Keywords: Smoking; tobacco control; youth and second-hand smoking; hospitality industry