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Older but Not Wiser- Smokers and Passive Smoking Belief

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    Abstract

    In recent years the proportion of people who smoke in developed countries has reached a plateau, even though countries like the UK continue to run anti-smoking campaigns. We aim to inform UK policy makers about the effects of anti-smoking campaigns by looking at the beliefs that smokers and non-smokers have about the dangers of passive smoking, with particular interest in whether these beliefs vary amongst smokers of different ages. We envisage two groups of potential smokers. There are the altruists, who are less likely to start to smoke once they are fully aware of the dangers of passive smoking; and there are the non-altruists for whom the effects of passive smoking are an irrelevancy. We hypothesis that anti-smoking campaigns have managed to dissuade the altruists of later generations from ever starting to smoke, but are having no effect on the behavior of the non-altruists and hence the plateau. The older smoking altruists are then captive to their smoking behavior and have to rationalize their smoking behavior by downplaying the effects of passive smoking. Using data from the Health Survey for England we find strong evidence that it is the older smokers who are less prone to believe in the dangers of passive smoking whilst younger smokers essentially have the same beliefs as nonsmokers: a young uneducated smoker is more aware of the dangers of passive smoking than a highly educated older smoker. This conclusion is robust to a number of sensitivity analyses. We conclude that the main effect of current campaigns is the continuing deterrence of potential young altruist smokers.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by School of Economics, University of Queensland, Australia in its series Discussion Papers Series with number 431.

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    Date of creation: 2011
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    Handle: RePEc:qld:uq2004:431

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    1. Kenkel, Donald S, 1991. "Health Behavior, Health Knowledge, and Schooling," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(2), pages 287-305, April.
    2. Phelps, Charlotte D., 2001. "A clue to the paradox of happiness," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 45(3), pages 293-300, July.
    3. Konow, James, 2006. "Mixed Feelings: Theories and Evidence of Warm Glow and Altruism," MPRA Paper 2727, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    4. Cagri S. Kumru & Lise Vesterlund, 2010. "The Effect of Status on Charitable Giving," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 12(4), pages 709-735, 08.
    5. Wood, Lisa & France, Kathryn & Hunt, Kerry & Eades, Sandra & Slack-Smith, Linda, 2008. "Indigenous women and smoking during pregnancy: Knowledge, cultural contexts and barriers to cessation," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 66(11), pages 2378-2389, June.
    6. Michael Visser & Matthew Roelofs, 2011. "Heterogeneous preferences for altruism: gender and personality, social status, giving and taking," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 14(4), pages 490-506, November.
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