This article compares the landscape of tobacco regulations to the landscape of gun regulations, with a focus on regulations that target youth. This article argues that guns are significantly less regulated compared to tobacco, despite the frequency with which each product causes significant harm to both self and other.
Many of the specific ways tobacco is regulated can be applied analogously to firearms while plausibly surviving potential Second Amendment challenges. This article compares the regulatory landscape of tobacco and firearms across six categories: (a) minimum age for purchase, (b) sale by unlicensed individuals, (c) taxation, (d) advertising, (e) graphic warning labels, and (f) zoning.
At one time, tobacco was as central — or more so — to American culture as guns are today. However, many decades of public health advocacy led to historic tobacco regulations. Tobacco's regulatory history provides a valuable blueprint for gun regulation, despite Constitutional differences.