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The Demand for Cigarettes as Derived from the Demand for Weight Loss: A Theoretical and Empirical Investigation

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  • John Cawley
  • Davide Dragone
  • Stephanie Von Hinke Kessler Scholder

Abstract

This paper offers an economic model of smoking and body weight and provides new empirical evidence on the extent to which the demand for cigarettes is derived from the demand for weight loss. In the model, smoking causes weight loss in addition to having direct utility benefits and direct health consequences. It predicts that some individuals smoke for weight loss and that the practice is more common among those who consider themselves overweight and those who experience greater disutility from excess weight. We test these hypotheses using nationally representative data in which adolescents are directly asked whether they smoke to control their weight. We find that, among teenagers who smoke frequently, 46% of girls and 30% of boys are smoking in part to control their weight. As predicted by the model, this practice is significantly more common among those who describe themselves as too fat and among groups that tend to experience greater disutility from obesity. We conclude by discussing the implications of these findings for tax policy; specifically, the demand for cigarettes is less price elastic among those who smoke for weight loss, all else being equal. Public health efforts to reduce smoking initiation and encourage cessation may wish to design campaigns to alter the derived nature of cigarette demand, especially among adolescent girls. Copyright © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Suggested Citation

  • John Cawley & Davide Dragone & Stephanie Von Hinke Kessler Scholder, 2016. "The Demand for Cigarettes as Derived from the Demand for Weight Loss: A Theoretical and Empirical Investigation," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 25(1), pages 8-23, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:wly:hlthec:v:25:y:2016:i:1:p:8-23
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    Cited by:

    1. Odermatt, Reto & Stutzer, Alois, 2018. "Tobacco Control Policies and Smoking Behavior in Europe: More Than Trends?," Working papers 2018/24, Faculty of Business and Economics - University of Basel.
    2. Dragone, D. & Ziebarth, N.R., 2015. "Non-Separable Time Preferences and Novelty Consumption: Theory and Evidence from the East German Transition to Capitalism," Health, Econometrics and Data Group (HEDG) Working Papers 15/28, HEDG, c/o Department of Economics, University of York.
    3. repec:eee:jhecon:v:57:y:2018:i:c:p:31-44 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Dragone, Davide & Ziebarth, Nicolas R., 2017. "Non-separable time preferences, novelty consumption and body weight: Theory and evidence from the East German transition to capitalism," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 51(C), pages 41-65.
    5. Courtemanche, Charles & Tchernis, Rusty & Ukert, Benjamin, 2018. "The effect of smoking on obesity: Evidence from a randomized trial," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(C), pages 31-44.

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