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Risk Beliefs and Preferences for E-cigarettes

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  • W. Kip Viscusi

    () (Vanderbilt University)

Abstract

Drawing on evidence from a new nationally representative survey, this article examines several measures of risk beliefs for e-cigarettes. For both lung cancer mortality risks and total smoking mortality risks, respondents believe that e-cigarettes pose risks that are lower than the risks of conventional tobacco cigarettes. However, people greatly overestimate the risk levels of e-cigarettes compared with the actual risk levels. Risk beliefs for conventional cigarettes receive at least a two-thirds informational weight in the formation of e-cigarette risk beliefs. Public perceptions of nicotine levels of e-cigarettes are closer to the beliefs for conventional cigarettes than are their health risk perceptions. Consumers’ desired uses of e-cigarettes are more strongly related to health risk perceptions than perceived e-cigarette nicotine levels. The overestimation of e-cigarette risks establishes a potential role for informational policies.

Suggested Citation

  • W. Kip Viscusi, 2016. "Risk Beliefs and Preferences for E-cigarettes," American Journal of Health Economics, MIT Press, vol. 2(2), pages 213-240, Spring.
  • Handle: RePEc:tpr:amjhec:v:2:y:2016:i:2:p:213-240
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Liu, Jin-Tan & Hsieh, Chee-Ruey, 1995. "Risk Perception and Smoking Behavior: Empirical Evidence from Taiwan," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 11(2), pages 139-157, September.
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    4. V. Kerry Smith & Donald H. Taylor & Frank A. Sloan & F. Reed Johnson & William H. Desvousges, 2001. "Do Smokers Respond To Health Shocks?," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 83(4), pages 675-687, November.
    5. Petter Lundborg, 2007. "Smoking, information sources, and risk perceptions—New results on Swedish data," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 34(3), pages 217-240, June.
    6. Viscusi, W Kip & O'Connor, Charles J, 1984. "Adaptive Responses to Chemical Labeling: Are Workers Bayesian Decision Makers?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(5), pages 942-956, December.
    7. Rovira, Joan & Viscusi, W. Kip & Antoñanzas, Fernando & Costa, Joan & Hart, Warren & Carvalho, Irineu, 2000. "Smoking Risks in Spain: Part II--Perceptions of Environmental Tobacco Smoke Externalities," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 21(2-3), pages 187-212, November.
    8. Viscusi, W Kip, 1991. "Age Variations in Risk Perceptions and Smoking Decisions," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 73(4), pages 577-588, November.
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    11. Viscusi, W Kip & Carvalho, Irineu & Antoñanzas, Fernando & Rovira, Joan & Braña, Francisco J. & Portillo, Fabiola, 2000. "Smoking Risks in Spain: Part III--Determinants of Smoking Behavior," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 21(2-3), pages 213-234, November.
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    Cited by:

    1. Donald S. Kenkel & Sida Peng & Michael F. Pesko & Hua Wang, 2017. "Mostly Harmless Regulation? Electronic Cigarettes, Public Policy and Consumer Welfare," NBER Working Papers 23710, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Michael F. Pesko & Janet M. Currie, 2016. "E-Cigarette Minimum Legal Sale Age Laws, Traditional Cigarette Use, and Birth Outcomes among Rural, Pregnant Teenagers," NBER Working Papers 22792, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Kip Viscusi, W. & Gayer, Ted, 2016. "Rational Benefit Assessment for an Irrational World: Toward a Behavioral Transfer Test," Journal of Benefit-Cost Analysis, Cambridge University Press, vol. 7(01), pages 69-91, March.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    e-cigarettes; cigarettes; smoking; risk; Bayesian;

    JEL classification:

    • D80 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - General
    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior
    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health
    • K32 - Law and Economics - - Other Substantive Areas of Law - - - Energy, Environmental, Health, and Safety Law

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