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

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  • Charles Courtemanche
  • Rusty Tchernis
  • Benjamin Ukert

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Charles Courtemanche & Rusty Tchernis & Benjamin Ukert, 2016. "The Effect of Smoking on Obesity: Evidence from a Randomized Trial," NBER Working Papers 21937, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:21937 Note: HC HE
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. repec:kap:ijhcfe:v:17:y:2017:i:4:d:10.1007_s10754-017-9220-1 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Francis DiTraglia & Camilo García-Jimeno, 2016. "A Framework for Eliciting, Incorporating, and Disciplining Identification Beliefs in Linear Models," NBER Working Papers 22621, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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    JEL classification:

    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior

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