Effects of State Laws Requiring Education about Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drugs on Youth Substance Use
Saturday, November 14, 2015 : 9:10 AM
Tuttle North (Hyatt Regency Miami)
*Names in bold indicate Presenter
Although punitive sanctions and age-targeted access restrictions have been shown to reduce youth substance use and associated problems, it is commonly argued that providing youths more information about the risks of substance use could achieve similar outcomes more efficiently. We test this hypothesis using variation across states in the timing of adoption of state laws that require youths to receive education about alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs (ATOD) in school. We rely on confidential area-identified versions of the 1976-2014 Monitoring the Future Surveys of high school seniors and the 1991-2014 surveys of students in grades 8 and 10 to estimate two-way fixed effects models of youth alcohol, tobacco, and drug use, controlling for other policy determinants of use. Over this period, 26 states adopted laws regarding ATOD instruction in schools. In addition to variation in the timing of adoption, we also exploit variation across states in whether the law requires or recommends instruction; whether the law covers all substances or just one (typically tobacco); and the grades in which such instruction must be offered. Results will provide important new evidence on the potential role for state education policy to affect youth substance use and related outcomes.