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The Effect of Smoking on Obesity: Evidence from a Randomized Trial

Listed author(s):
  • Charles Courtemanche
  • Rusty Tchernis
  • Benjamin Ukert

This paper aims to identify the causal effect of smoking on body mass index (BMI) using data from the Lung Health Study, a randomized trial of smoking cessation treatments. Since nicotine is a metabolic stimulant and appetite suppressant, quitting or reducing smoking could lead to weight gain. Using randomized treatment assignment to instrument for smoking, we estimate that quitting smoking leads to an average long- run weight gain of 1.8-1.9 BMI units, or 11-12 pounds at the average height. These results imply that the drop in smoking in recent decades explains 14% of the concurrent rise in obesity. Semi-parametric models provide evidence of a diminishing marginal effect of smoking on BMI, while subsample regressions show that the impact is largest for younger individuals, females, those with no college degree, and those in the lowest quartile of baseline BMI.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 21937.

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Date of creation: Jan 2016
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:21937
Note: HC HE
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  1. Christian A. Gregory & Christopher J. Ruhm, 2011. "Where Does the Wage Penalty Bite?," NBER Chapters,in: Economic Aspects of Obesity, pages 315-347 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  4. James Nonnemaker & Eric Finkelstein & Mark Engelen & Thomas Hoerger & Matthew Farrelly, 2009. "Have Efforts To Reduce Smoking Really Contributed To The Obesity Epidemic?," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 47(2), pages 366-376, 04.
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  8. Courtemanche, Charles & Pinkston, Joshua C. & Stewart, Jay, 2015. "Adjusting body mass for measurement error with invalid validation data," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 19(C), pages 275-293.
  9. Courtemanche, Charles, 2009. "Rising cigarette prices and rising obesity: Coincidence or unintended consequence?," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(4), pages 781-798, July.
  10. Wehby, George L. & Courtemanche, Charles J., 2012. "The heterogeneity of the cigarette price effect on body mass index," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(5), pages 719-729.
  11. Inas Rashad & Michael Grossman & Shin-Yi Chou, 2006. "The Super Size of America: An Economic Estimation of Body Mass Index and Obesity in Adults," Eastern Economic Journal, Eastern Economic Association, vol. 32(1), pages 133-148, Winter.
  12. Tomas J. Philipson & Richard A. Posner, 1999. "The Long-Run Growth in Obesity as a Function of Technological Change," Working Papers 9912, Harris School of Public Policy Studies, University of Chicago.
  13. Heckman, James, 2013. "Sample selection bias as a specification error," Applied Econometrics, Publishing House "SINERGIA PRESS", vol. 31(3), pages 129-137.
  14. Fletcher Jason M., 2014. "The Effects of Smoking Cessation on Weight Gain: New Evidence Using Workplace Smoking Bans," Forum for Health Economics & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 17(2), pages 1-25, September.
  15. Vincenzo Verardi & Nicolas Debarsy, 2012. "Robinson's square root of N consistent semiparametric regression estimator in Stata," Stata Journal, StataCorp LP, vol. 12(4), pages 726-735, December.
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  18. Gruber, Jonathan & Frakes, Michael, 2006. "Does falling smoking lead to rising obesity?," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(2), pages 183-197, March.
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