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Cigarette Taxation and the Social Consequences of Smoking

In: Tax Policy and the Economy, Volume 9

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  • W. Kip Viscusi

Abstract

This paper assesses the appropriate cigarette tax needed to address potential market failures. There is no evidence of inadequate risk decisions by smokers regarding their own welfare. Detailed calculations of the financial externalities of smoking indicate that the financial savings from premature mortality in terms of lower nursing home costs and retirement pensions exceed the higher medical care and life insurance costs generated. The costs of environmental tobacco smoke are highly uncertain, but of potentially substantial magnitude. Even with recognition of these costs, current cigarette taxes exceed the magnitude of the estimated net externalities.
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Suggested Citation

  • W. Kip Viscusi, 1995. "Cigarette Taxation and the Social Consequences of Smoking," NBER Chapters,in: Tax Policy and the Economy, Volume 9, pages 51-102 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberch:10891
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Poterba, James M, 1989. "Lifetime Incidence and the Distributional Burden of Excise Taxes," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, pages 325-330.
    2. Harris, Jeffrey E, 1980. "Taxing Tar and Nicotine," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, pages 300-311.
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    6. Ippolito, Pauline M. & Ippolito, Richard A., 1984. "Measuring the value of life saving from consumer reactions to new information," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, pages 53-81.
    7. Viscusi, W Kip, 1990. "Do Smokers Underestimate Risks?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(6), pages 1253-1269, December.
    8. Grossman, Michael, 1991. "The demand for cigarettes," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 10(1), pages 101-103, May.
    9. Becker, Gary S & Murphy, Kevin M, 1988. "A Theory of Rational Addiction," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, pages 675-700.
    10. Poterba, James M, 1989. "Lifetime Incidence and the Distributional Burden of Excise Taxes," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, pages 325-330.
    11. Wasserman, Jeffrey & Manning, Willard G. & Newhouse, Joseph P. & Winkler, John D., 1991. "The effects of excise taxes and regulations on cigarette smoking," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 10(1), pages 43-64, May.
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    Cited by:

    1. Jonathan Gruber, 2001. "Tobacco at the Crossroads: The Past and Future of Smoking Regulation in the United States," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, pages 193-212.
    2. 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.
    3. Bulow, Jeremy I. & Klemperer, Paul, 1999. "The Tobacco Deal," CEPR Discussion Papers 2125, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    4. Bas Jacobs, 2013. "From Optimal Tax Theory to Applied Tax Policy," CESifo Working Paper Series 4151, CESifo Group Munich.
    5. Stephen Farr & Carol Horton Tremblay & Victor Tremblay, 2001. "The Welfare Effect of Advertising Restrictions in the U.S. Cigarette Industry," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer;The Industrial Organization Society, vol. 18(2), pages 147-160, March.
    6. Carlos Casacuberta & Mariana Gerstenblüth & Patricia Triunfo, 2012. "Aportes del análisis económico al estudio de las drogas," Documentos de Trabajo (working papers) 0112, Department of Economics - dECON.
    7. Donald S. Kenkel & Robert R. Reed III & Ping Wang, 2002. "Rational Addiction, Peer Externalities and Long Run Effects of Public Policy," NBER Working Papers 9249, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Kenkel, Donald S. & Manning, Willard, 1999. "Economic evaluation of nutrition policy: Or, there's no such thing as a free lunch," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 24(2-3), pages 145-162, May.
    9. Viscusi, W. Kip & Hersch, Joni, 2008. "The mortality cost to smokers," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(4), pages 943-958, July.
    10. Gruber, Jonathan & Koszegi, Botond, 2004. "Tax incidence when individuals are time-inconsistent: the case of cigarette excise taxes," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, pages 1959-1987.
    11. Aloys Prinz, 2009. "The political economy of smoking regulation and taxation," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 141(3), pages 291-303, December.
    12. Cutler, David M & Epstein, Arnold M. & Frank, Richard G. & Hartman, Raymond & King, Charles III & Newhouse, Joseph P. & Rosenthal, Meredith B. & Vigdor, Elizabeth Richardson, 2000. "How Good a Deal Was the Tobacco Settlement? Assessing Payments to Massachusetts," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 21(2-3), pages 235-261, November.
    13. W. Kip Viscusi & Joni Hersch, 2010. "Tobacco Regulation through Litigation: The Master Settlement Agreement," NBER Chapters,in: Regulation vs. Litigation: Perspectives from Economics and Law, pages 71-101 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    14. Michael Grossman, 2004. "Individual Behaviors and Substance Use: The Role of Price," NBER Working Papers 10948, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    15. Kan, Kamhon & Tsai, Wei-Der, 2004. "Obesity and risk knowledge," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(5), pages 907-934, September.
    16. Crutchfield, Stephen R. & Kuchler, Fred & Variyam, Jayachandran N., 2001. "Valuing The Health Benefits Of Nutrition Labeling: A Case Study For Meat And Poultry Products," 2001 Annual meeting, August 5-8, Chicago, IL 20559, American Agricultural Economics Association (New Name 2008: Agricultural and Applied Economics Association).
    17. Yen, Steven T. & Shaw, W. Douglass & Yuan, Yan, 2010. "Cigarette smoking and self-reported health in China," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 21(4), pages 532-543, December.
    18. Colman, Greg & Grossman, Michael & Joyce, Ted, 2003. "The effect of cigarette excise taxes on smoking before, during and after pregnancy," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(6), pages 1053-1072, November.
    19. Parry, Ian, 2000. "Comparing the Marginal Excess Burden of Labor, Gasoline, Cigarette and Alcohol Taxes: An Application to the United Kingdom," Discussion Papers dp-00-33-rev, Resources For the Future.
    20. Sijbren Cnossen, 2006. "Tobacco taxation in the European Union," CPB Discussion Paper 67, CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis.
    21. Rosemary Avery & Donald Kenkel & Dean R. Lillard & Alan Mathios, 2006. "Private Profits and Public Health: Does Advertising Smoking Cessation Products Encourage Smokers to Quit?," NBER Working Papers 11938, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    22. David (David Patrick) Madden, 2002. "Setting the appropriate tax on cigarettes in Ireland," Working Papers 200225, School of Economics, University College Dublin.
    23. Glied, Sherry, 2002. "Youth tobacco control: reconciling theory and empirical evidence," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 21(1), pages 117-135, January.

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