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Do Smokers Value Their Health and Longevity Less?

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  • Ahmed Khwaja
  • Frank Sloan
  • Yang Wang

Abstract

One reason why individuals consume harmful addictive goods is that the "full" price of such goods is low. Using data on adults specifically collected for this study, we examine the internal cost of one such good by estimating the value that smokers and nonsmokers place on loss of health and longevity from a major lung disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Differences in the nonpecuniary internal cost of getting COPD between current smokers and people who have never smoked range from $80,000 to $260,000, implying that one reason people continue to smoke is that they face a lower full price of smoking. Our results suggest that although taxation and regulation of cigarettes may be justified for externality reasons, the principle of consumer sovereignty implies that the case is much weaker for interventions based on helping smokers internalize costs they impose on themselves. (c) 2009 by The University of Chicago. All rights reserved.

Suggested Citation

  • Ahmed Khwaja & Frank Sloan & Yang Wang, 2009. "Do Smokers Value Their Health and Longevity Less?," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 52(1), pages 171-196, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:jlawec:v:52:y:2009:i:1:p:171-196
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Hsieh, Chee-Ruey & Lo, Te-Fen, 2017. "Are smokers too optimistic about their health status: Ex ante perception versus ex post observation," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 43(C), pages 169-183.
    2. Pierre Pestieau & Gregory Ponthiere, 2012. "Myopia, regrets, and risky behaviors," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 19(2), pages 288-317, April.
    3. Frank A. Sloan & Patricia A. Robinson & Lindsey M. Eldred, 2014. "Does Private Information Influence Automobile Insurance Purchase Decisions?," NBER Working Papers 20679, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Frank Sloan & Lindsey Eldred, 2015. "Do preferences of drinker-drivers differ?," International Journal of Health Economics and Management, Springer, vol. 15(2), pages 241-268, June.
    5. Padmaja Ayyagari & Daniel Grossman & Frank Sloan, 2011. "Education and health: evidence on adults with diabetes," International Journal of Health Economics and Management, Springer, vol. 11(1), pages 35-54, March.

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