IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

What Explains Willingness to Pay for Smoking-Cessation Treatments —Addiction Level, Quit-Rate Effectiveness or the Opening Bid?


  • Jan Olsen


  • Ole Røgeberg
  • Knut Stavem


Background: Several countries have now passed laws that place limitations on where smokers may smoke. A range of smoking-cessation treatments have become available, many of which have documented increased quit rates. Population surveys show that most smokers wish to quit, and most nonsmokers would prefer to reduce the prevalence of smoking in society. The strengths of these preferences, however, as measured by their willingness to pay (WTP), have not yet been investigated. Objective: This study aims to identify variables that explain variations in people’s answers to WTP questions on smoking-cessation treatments. Methods: A representative sample of the Norwegian population was asked their WTP in terms of an earmarked contribution to a public smokingcessation programme. A sub-group of daily smokers was, in addition, asked about their WTP for a hypothetical treatment that would remove their urge to smoke. The impact of variation in the question format (different opening bids) on stated WTP was compared with that of factors suggested by economic theory, such as quit-rate effectiveness, degree of addiction as measured by the 12-item Cigarette Dependence Scale (CDS-12), and degree of peer group influence as measured by the proportion of one’s friends who smoke. Results: In both programmes, the most important determinant for explaining variations in WTP was the size of the opening bid. Differences in quit-rate effectiveness did not matter for people’s WTP for the smoking-cessation programme. Addiction, and having a small proportion of friends who smoke, were positively associated with smokers’ WTP to quit smoking. Conclusion: Variations in WTP were influenced more by how the question was framed in terms of differences in opening bids, than by variables reflecting the quality (effectiveness) and need (addiction level) for the good in question. While the WTP method is theoretically attractive, the findings that outcomes in terms of different quit rates did not affect WTP, and that WTP answers can be manipulated by the chosen opening bid, should raise further doubts on the ability of this method to provide valid and reliable answers that reflect true preferences for health and healthcare. Copyright Springer International Publishing AG 2012

Suggested Citation

  • Jan Olsen & Ole Røgeberg & Knut Stavem, 2012. "What Explains Willingness to Pay for Smoking-Cessation Treatments —Addiction Level, Quit-Rate Effectiveness or the Opening Bid?," Applied Health Economics and Health Policy, Springer, vol. 10(6), pages 407-415, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:aphecp:v:10:y:2012:i:6:p:407-415
    DOI: 10.1007/BF03261875

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Henrik Hammar & Olof Johansson-Stenman, 2004. "The value of risk-free cigarettes - do smokers underestimate the risk?," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 13(1), pages 59-71.
    2. Leu, Robert E., 1984. "Anti-smoking publicity, taxation, and the demand for cigarettes," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 3(2), pages 101-116, August.
    3. Herriges, Joseph A. & Shogren, Jason F., 1996. "Starting Point Bias in Dichotomous Choice Valuation with Follow-Up Questioning," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 30(1), pages 112-131, January.
    4. Olsen, Jan Abel & Donaldson, Cam & Pereira, Joao, 2004. "The insensitivity of 'willingness-to-pay' to the size of the good: New evidence for health care," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 25(4), pages 445-460, August.
    5. D. Gyrd‐Hansen & T. Kjær & J. S. Nielsen, 2012. "Scope insensitivity in contingent valuation studies of health care services: should we ask twice?," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 21(2), pages 101-112, February.
    6. Brian Krauth, 2005. "Peer effects and selection effects on smoking among Canadian youth," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 38(3), pages 735-757, August.
    7. Beattie, Jane & Covey, Judith & Dolan, Paul & Hopkins, Lorraine & Jones-Lee, Michael & Loomes, Graham & Pidgeon, Nick & Robinson, Angela & Spencer, Anne, 1998. "On the Contingent Valuation of Safety and the Safety of Contingent Valuation: Part 1--Caveat Investigator," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 17(1), pages 5-25, October.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:spr:aphecp:v:10:y:2012:i:6:p:407-415. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Sonal Shukla) or (Rebekah McClure). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.