skip to main content
Gallup Vault
Gallup Vault: Stamping Out Teen Smoking in the U.S.
Gallup Vault

Gallup Vault: Stamping Out Teen Smoking in the U.S.

by Art Swift

In 1962, Americans overwhelmingly favored a ban on cigarette sales to minors younger than age 16 (79%). This followed a push by the American Cancer Society to keep teenagers from smoking, as the U.S. began to become more aware of the dangers of cigarette smoking.

Selling Cigarettes to Minors Under 16
Do you think there should or should not be a law against selling cigarettes to young people under the age of 16?
Should be law 79
Should not be law 17
No opinion 4
Nov. 29, 1962

"The American Cancer Society has taken the lead in this country in trying to convince youngsters against smoking," George Gallup wrote of the American Cancer Society's plan. "Their program includes the showing of films -- which illustrate the potential dangers to health from smoking -- to high school audiences."

Yet when Gallup asked Americans whether they favored an outright ban on smoking for minors under the age of 16, the response wasn't as strong as it was for banning cigarette sales. Fifty-six percent said they thought it should be against the law for people under 16 to smoke, while 37% said it should not be against the law.

This question may have foretold policies that eventually took hold across the country -- banning the sale of cigarettes to minors. While there is no federal minimum smoking age, all 50 states require people to be at least 18 to buy cigarettes. In some states, the age is higher; this year in California, Gov. Jerry Brown signed a law raising the smoking age from 18 to 21.

These data can be found in Gallup Analytics.

Read more from the Gallup Vault.

Subscribe to receive Gallup News alerts.
Never miss our latest insights.

Gallup World Headquarters, 901 F Street, Washington, D.C., 20001, U.S.A
+1 202.715.3030