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Cost-benefit analysis involving addictive goods: contingent valuation to estimate willingness-to-pay for smoking cessation

  • David L. Weimer

    (University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI, USA)

  • Aidan R. Vining

    (Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, BC, Canada)

  • Randall K. Thomas

    (Harris Interactive, Rochester, NY, USA)

The valuation of changes in consumption of addictive goods resulting from policy interventions presents a challenge for cost-benefit analysts. Consumer surplus losses from reduced consumption of addictive goods that are measured relative to market demand schedules overestimate the social cost of cessation interventions. This article seeks to show that consumer surplus losses measured using a non-addicted demand schedule provide a better assessment of social cost. Specifically, (1) it develops an addiction model that permits an estimate of the smoker's compensating variation for the elimination of addiction; (2) it employs a contingent valuation survey of current smokers to estimate their willingness-to-pay (WTP) for a treatment that would eliminate addiction; (3) it uses the estimate of WTP from the survey to calculate the fraction of consumer surplus that should be viewed as consumer value; and (4) it provides an estimate of this fraction. The exercise suggests that, as a tentative first and rough rule-of-thumb, only about 75% of the loss of the conventionally measured consumer surplus should be counted as social cost for policies that reduce the consumption of cigarettes. Additional research to estimate this important rule-of-thumb is desirable to address the various caveats relevant to this study. Copyright © 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1002/hec.1365
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Article provided by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. in its journal Health Economics.

Volume (Year): 18 (2009)
Issue (Month): 2 ()
Pages: 181-202

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Handle: RePEc:wly:hlthec:v:18:y:2009:i:2:p:181-202
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/cgi-bin/jhome/5749

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  1. William N. Evans & Jeanne S. Ringel & Diana Stech, 1999. "Tobacco Taxes and Public Policy to Discourage Smoking," NBER Chapters, in: Tax Policy and the Economy, Volume 13, pages 1-56 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  10. Suranovic, Steven M. & Goldfarb, Robert S. & Leonard, Thomas C., 1999. "An economic theory of cigarette addiction," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 1-29, January.
  11. Saffer, Henry & Grossman, Michael, 1987. "Drinking Age Laws and Highway Mortality Rates: Cause and Effect," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 25(3), pages 403-17, July.
  12. Paul Grootendorst, 2001. "An Empirical Analysis of Milk Addiction," Working Papers 2001-17, Department of Economics, University of Calgary, revised 05 Dec 2001.
  13. Laux, Fritz L., 2000. "Addiction as a market failure: using rational addiction results to justify tobacco regulation," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(4), pages 421-437, July.
  14. Werner, Megan, 1999. "Allowing for Zeros in Dichotomous-Choice Contingent-Valuation Models," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 17(4), pages 479-86, October.
  15. Richard O. Zerbe, 1998. "Is cost-benefit analysis legal? Three rules," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 17(3), pages 419-456.
  16. Chaloupka, Frank J. & Warner, Kenneth E., 2000. "The economics of smoking," Handbook of Health Economics, in: A. J. Culyer & J. P. Newhouse (ed.), Handbook of Health Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 29, pages 1539-1627 Elsevier.
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