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Putting Out The Fires: Will Higher Taxes Reduce Youth Smoking?

Author

Listed:
  • DeCicca, Philip

    (Department of Policy Analysis & Management)

  • Kenkel, Donald

    () (Department of Policy Analysis & Management)

  • Mathios, Alan

    () (Department of Policy Analysis & Management)

Abstract

This paper re-examines the empirical support for predictions that proposed cigarette tax or price increases will substantially reduce youth smoking. Part of the support for these predictions comes from evidence that higher taxes reduce aggregate tobacco sales and adult smoking rates. But taxes may have much different impacts on youth starting behavior than on adult quitting behavior. We use a panel microdata set, the National Education Longitudinal Survey of 1988 (NELS:88), that spans a period when many states increased taxes on cigarettes.We are able to study the impact of taxes and prices on smoking behavior during exactly the period in adolescence when most smokers start their habits. Cross-sectional models of 12th grade smoking based on the NELS:88 data yield estimated price elasticities ranging from -0.29 to -0.98,similar to previous studies. But when we exploit the longitudinal nature of the data our results suggest that cigarette taxes or prices are not important determinants of smoking initiation. We find weak or nonexistent tax and price effects in models of the onset of smoking between 8th and 12th grade, models of the onset into heavy smoking between 8th and 12th grade, and discrete time hazard models that include state fixed effects. Our estimates create doubt about the strength of the response of youth smoking to higher taxes or prices, and suggest that alternative policy approaches to preventing youth smoking deserve serious attention. We also provide a new perspective on the relationship between smoking and schooling. We find that students with better tests scores are less likely to smoke, and that eventual dropouts are already more likely to smoke in 8th grade. Possible explanations for these patterns include individual heterogeneity in: the rate of time preference; tastes for deviancy; parental investment in smoking prevention as an aspect of child quality; and optimal lifetime plans for health and education human capital investment.

Suggested Citation

  • DeCicca, Philip & Kenkel, Donald & Mathios, Alan, 2000. "Putting Out The Fires: Will Higher Taxes Reduce Youth Smoking?," Working Papers 00-3, University of Aarhus, Aarhus School of Business, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:aareco:2000_003
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. David M. Cutler & Jonathan Gruber & Raymond S. Hartman & Mary Beth Landrum & Joseph P. Newhouse & Meredith B. Rosenthal, 2002. "The Economic impacts of the tobacco settlement," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 21(1), pages 1-19.
    2. 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, vol. 15(2), pages 193-212, Spring.
    3. Bulow, Jeremy I. & Klemperer, Paul, 1999. "The Tobacco Deal," CEPR Discussion Papers 2125, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    4. Erdal Tekin & Naci Mocan & Lan Liang, 2009. "Do Adolescents with Emotional or Behavioral Problems Respond to Cigarette Prices?," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 76(1), pages 67-85, July.
    5. Cawley, John & Markowitz, Sara & Tauras, John, 2004. "Lighting up and slimming down: the effects of body weight and cigarette prices on adolescent smoking initiation," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(2), pages 293-311, March.
    6. Layte, Richard & Russell, Helen & McCoy, Selina, 2002. "The Economics and Marketing of Tobacco: An Overview of the Existing Published Evidence," Research Series, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI), number PRS46.
    7. Jonathan Gruber & Jonathan Zinman, 2001. "Youth Smoking in the United States: Evidence and Implications," NBER Chapters,in: Risky Behavior among Youths: An Economic Analysis, pages 69-120 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. John Cawley & Sara Markowitz & John Tauras, 2006. "Obesity, Cigarette Prices, Youth Access Laws, and Adolescent Smoking Initiation," Eastern Economic Journal, Eastern Economic Association, vol. 32(1), pages 149-170, Winter.
    9. John A. Tauras, 1999. "The Transition to Smoking Cessation: Evidence from Multiple Failure Duration Analysis," NBER Working Papers 7412, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Hana Ross & Frank J. Chaloupka & Melanie Wakefield, 2006. "Youth Smoking Uptake Progress: Price and Public Policy Effects," Eastern Economic Journal, Eastern Economic Association, vol. 32(2), pages 355-367, Spring.
    11. Silja Göhlmann, 2007. "The Determinants of Smoking Initiation: Empirical Evidence for Germany," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 62, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
    12. Wakefield, Melanie A PhD & Chaloupka, Frank J. PhD, 1999. "Effectiveness of Comprehensive Tobacco Control Programs in Reducing Teenage Smoking: A Review," University of California at San Francisco, Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education qt46n6b9mv, Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education, UC San Francisco.
    13. Jeffrey E. Harris & Sandra W. Chan, 1999. "The continuum-of-addiction: cigarette smoking in relation to price among Americans aged 15-29," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 8(1), pages 81-86.
    14. John A. Tauras & Patrick M. O'Malley & Lloyd D. Johnston, 2001. "Effects of Price and Access Laws on Teenage Smoking Initiation: A National Longitudinal Analysis," NBER Working Papers 8331, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    15. Jonathan Gruber, 2000. "Youth Smoking in the U.S.: Prices and Policies," NBER Working Papers 7506, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    16. repec:kap:iaecre:v:14:y:2008:i:3:p:329-335 is not listed on IDEAS
    17. Glied, Sherry, 2002. "Youth tobacco control: reconciling theory and empirical evidence," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 21(1), pages 117-135, January.
    18. Gravelle, Jane G., 1998. "Burning Issues in the Tobacco Settlement Payments: An Economic Perspective," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 51(n. 3), pages 437-51, September.
    19. Emery, Sherry & White, Martha M. & Pierce, John P., 2001. "Does cigarette price influence adolescent experimentation?," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 20(2), pages 261-270, March.
    20. Silja Göhlmann & Christoph M. Schmidt & Harald Tauchmann, 2010. "Smoking initiation in Germany: the role of intergenerational transmission," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 19(2), pages 227-242.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Cigarette smoking; taxation;

    JEL classification:

    • D11 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Theory

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