Introduction California?s law raising the minimum tobacco sales age to 21 went into effect on 9 June 2016. This law, known as ?Tobacco 21? or ?T21?, also expanded the definition of tobacco to include electronic smoking devices. This paper describes the T21 evaluation plan and initial evaluation results.
Methods An evaluation plan and logic model were created to evaluate T21. A tobacco retailer poll was conducted 7?months after the law went into effect to assess awareness, support and implementation; an online survey of California adults was fielded to provide data on tobacco use and attitudinal changes before and after T21 implementation; and tobacco purchase surveys were conducted to assess the retailer violation rate (RVR). Multivariate models estimated the odds of RVR and odds of being aware, agreeing with and observing advertisements related to T21.
Results Seven months after the T21 effective date, 98.6% of retailers were aware of the law and 60.6% supported the law. Furthermore, 66.2% of retailers agreed that people who start smoking before 21 would become addicted to tobacco products. The RVR using youth decoys under age 18 statistically decreased from 10.3% before T21 to 5.7% after T21 (P=0.002). Furthermore, the RVR using young adult decoys ages 18?19 was 14.2% (95% CI 9.3% to 19.1%) for traditional tobacco and 13.1% (95% CI 10.2% to 16.1%) for electronic smoking devices.
Conclusions Survey findings suggest that the high awareness and support for the law may have contributed to reducing illegal tobacco sales to youth under 18 and achieving widespread retailer conformity with the new law disallowing sales to young adults under 21.