Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Decline In Teenage Smoking

A recent article in the New York Times discusses the decline of teenage smoking. It was reported to have been a significant one in that the article attributes this change to the harsher enforcement of laws with policies being more strict regarding the age of purchasing cigarettes and the fines that would be affiliated with any obstruction of said laws.

The article specifically references a federal law known as the Synar Amendment which went into effect in 1996. Over a decade later, a study conducted in the University of Mass. shows that the amendment proved to have significant effects on the number of minors who smoke and the store owners who sell cigarettes to minors. The amendment was cited as having severe penalties within state law if an operating store was caught selling to minors, hence the decline in the average teenager who smokes and begins at a fairly early age.

While the article was rather short and remained more of an informative one not alluding to any particular or even possible implications for say tobacco companies or even individuals who do smoke, it is interesting enough to explore. For instance, one can could argue that this new trend of increasingly stringent enforcement of laws banning solicitation to minors could eventually rub tobacco companies the wrong way, in that most of their customers are smokes who began the habit at an early age (being a minor.) On the other hand, this should be good. For example, educational programs like D.A.R.E, which begin early as middle school, more or less have a solid foundation to fall back on when their students reach high school. Most advocates who are anti-smoking or are in favor of continual enforcement in limiting the amount of people who smoke would applaud the results of this amendment.

Additionally, what was most interesting about this article, is that the issue of how successful or being able to judge the success of a policy of initiative is identified. After a semester of learning about the various characteristics of public policy and the process, essentially the ins and outs of it, this article best emulated a policy gone right. Most importantly and note worthy, is that the results were not fully noticeable until over a decade had gone by. With most policy agenda, one reason that usually prevents any real action from being taken is the inability to determine effectiveness in a short amount of time. People want to see results as soon as possible, although not at all pragmatic or realistic, it unfortunately deters real work going into a project or halts work in progress. Whether you are in favor or opposed to the findings of the research study conducted, it should at the very least, represent what is possible when real policy and dedication (enforcement of said law) takes place.

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