Study Finds E-Cigarette Regulations May Have Unintended Consequences for Pregnant Teenagers
New research published in the Journal of Health Economics investigates the effect of minimum legal sale laws for e-cigarettes on prenatal cigarette smoking and birth outcomes for underage rural teenagers, finding a possible unintended consequence: The laws reduced cigarette smoking cessation during pregnancy, thus perhaps inadvertently increasing cigarette use by teens.
The study, co-authored by Academy Fellow Janet Currie, evaluated the effects of minimum legal sale age laws for e-cigarettes among pregnant teens using data from 325,000 birth certificates for 32 states from 2010 to 2016, drawing on cigarette smoking information provided by each pregnant teen at four points in time during her pregnancy. The study found that the e-cigarette regulations increased prenatal smoking by 0.6 percentage points overall. These effects were concentrated in teens who had smoked prior to becoming pregnant, with no effect on those who had not smoked before pregnancy. This indicates a possible unmet need for assistance with smoking cessation among pregnant teenagers, who may be uniquely open to guidance about resources and products available to help them quit smoking.