The economics of smoking
In: Handbook of Health Economics
While the tobacco industry ranks among the most substantial and successful of economic enterprises, tobacco consumption is associated with more deaths than any other product. Economic analysis of the markets for tobacco products, particularly cigarettes, has contributed considerable insight to debates about the importance of the industry and the appropriate roles of public policy in grappling with the health consequences of tobacco. Certainly the most significant example of this phenomenon has been the rapidly expanding and increasingly sophisticated body of research on the effects of price increases on cigarette consumption. Because excise tax comprises an important component of price, the resultant literature has played a prominent role in legislative debates about using taxation as a principal tool to discourage smoking. In addition to informing legislative debates, this literature has contributed both theory and empirical evidence to the growing interest in modeling the demand for addictive products.This chapter examines this body of research in detail, as well as a variety of equity and efficiency concerns accompanying debates about cigarette taxation. Coverage also includes economic analysis of the role of other tobacco control policies, such as restrictions on advertising, of special interest due to their prominence in debates about tobacco control. The chapter concludes with consideration of research addressing the validity of the tobacco industry's argument that its contributions to employment, tax revenues, and trade balances are vital to the economic health of states and nations. This argument is one of the industry's principal weapons in its battle against policy measures intended to reduce tobacco product consumption.
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