The purpose was 2-fold: first to analyse how compliance with the minimum-age law of 18 for the purchase of tobacco has changed over time, second to determine what factors affect the possibility for adolescents to buy cigarettes. Three series (1996, 1999 and 2002) of test purchases of tobacco were conducted in three regions of Sweden. Altogether, 36 test purchasers carried out 1867 test purchases. In 1996, 93% of all attempted purchases resulted in the purchase of cigarettes. The corresponding figures for 1999 were 80% and for 2002 63%. The results indicate significant regional differences in the test purchasers' opportunities to buy cigarettes. This paper demonstrates that compliance with the minimum-age law has had an effect on the ease with which adolescents purchase cigarettes, and further that such purchase has become more difficult. The study also indicates great potential for local efforts to induce more retailers to comply with the law.