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The Exchange Theory of Teenage Smoking and the Counterproductiveness of Moderate Regulation

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  • Kent Smetters
  • Jennifer Gravelle

Abstract

About three-quarters of secondary schools are reluctant to vigorously enforce smoking bans due to various social pressures; ten percent of these schools do not have bans at all. Empirically, school-based smoking regulations appear, at best, ineffective at reducing teenage smoking and, more likely, may actually increase participation. Only schools which vigorously enforce bans have a lower smoking participation. In sum, teenage smoking participation appears to be non-monotonic in the level of enforcement. This paper develops an exchange model that explains this non-monotonic pattern. Smoking bans provide an exchange opportunity to less popular students. Less popular students who begin smoking validate the risk-taking behavior of existing teenage smokers who, in exchange, provide friendship to the newcomers. The enforcement itself becomes the glue which holds the group together. Teenage smoking bans, unless vigorously enforced, increase teenage smoking participation. An increase in self-esteem and other non-smoking related qualities, however, undermines the trading channel, which can help combat teenage smoking. Numerous pieces of empirical evidence, culled from the empirical social psychology literature, are consistent with all of the key predictions of the model.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 8262.

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Date of creation: Apr 2001
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:8262

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Cited by:
  1. Peter Kooreman, 2007. "Time, money, peers, and parents; some data and theories on teenage behavior," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 20(1), pages 9-33, February.
  2. Brett Katzman & Sara Markowitz & Kerry Anne McGeary, 2007. "An empirical investigation of the social market for cigarettes," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 16(10), pages 1025-1039.
  3. Kooreman, P. & Soetevent, A., 2007. "A discrete choice model with social interactions; with an application to high school teen behavior," Open Access publications from Tilburg University urn:nbn:nl:ui:12-284131, Tilburg University.

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