Youth smoking and anti-smoking policies in North Dakota: a system dynamics simulation study
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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- Department of Geography 
Background: The current study utilizes system dynamics to model the determinants of youth smoking and simulate effects of anti-smoking policies in the context of North Dakota, a state with one of the lowest cigarette tax rates in the USA. Methods: An explanatory model was built to replicate historical trends in the youth smoking rate. Three different policies were simulated: 1) an increase in cigarette excise taxes; 2) increased funding for CDC-recommended comprehensive tobacco control programs; and 3) enforcement of increased retailer compliance with age restrictions on cigarette sales. Results: The explanatory model successfully replicated historical trends in adolescent smoking behavior in North Dakota from 1992 to 2014. The policy model showed that increasing taxes to $2.20 per pack starting in 2015 was the most effective of the three policies, producing a 32.6% reduction in youth smoking rate by 2032. Other policies reduced smoking by a much lesser degree (7.0 and 3.2% for comprehensive tobacco control program funding and retailer compliance, respectively). The effects of each policy were additive. Conclusions: System dynamics modeling suggests that increasing cigarette excise taxes are particularly effective at reducing adolescent smoking rates. More generally, system dynamics offers an important complement to conventional analysis of observational data.