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Youth Smoking in the U.S.: Prices and Policies

  • Jonathan Gruber

After steadily declining over the previous 15 years, youth smoking began to rise precipitously in 1992, and by 1997 had risen by roughly one-third from its 1991 trough. We know very little about what caused this time trend and what public policy can do to reverse it. This paper therefore provides a comprehensive analysis of the impact of prices and other public policies on youth smoking in the 1990s, drawing on three separate data sets. I find that the most important policy determinant of youth smoking, particularly among older teens, is prices. Prices are a significant and sizeable determinant of smoking by older teens in all tree data sets, although the estimated price elasticity varies significantly. On the other hand, price does not appear to be an important determinant of smoking by younger teens. There is little consistent evidence of robust effect of other public policies targeted to reducing youth smoking, although there is some suggestion that restrictions on youth purchase of cigarettes reduce the quantity of cigarettes reduce the quantity of cigarettes smoked. And I find that black youth and those with less educated parents are much more responsive to cigarette price than are white teens and those with more educated parents, suggesting a strong correlation between price sensitivity and socioeconomic status.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 7506.

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Date of creation: Jan 2000
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Publication status: published as Jonathan Gruber, 2001. "Youth Smoking in the 1990's: Why Did It Rise and What Are the Long-Run Implications?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(2), pages 85-90, May.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:7506
Note: CH HE
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  1. Chaloupka, Frank J. & Warner, Kenneth E., 2000. "The economics of smoking," Handbook of Health Economics, in: A. J. Culyer & J. P. Newhouse (ed.), Handbook of Health Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 29, pages 1539-1627 Elsevier.
  2. 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.
  3. Phillip B. Levine, 2001. "The Sexual Activity and Birth-Control Use of American Teenagers," NBER Chapters, in: Risky Behavior among Youths: An Economic Analysis, pages 167-218 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. David M. Cutler & Jonathan Gruber & Raymond S. Hartman & M.B. Landrum, J. Newhouse & Meredith B. Rosenthal, 2000. "The Economic Impacts of the Tobacco Settlement," NBER Working Papers 7760, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. William N. Evans & Jeanne S. Ringel & Diana Stech, 1999. "Tobacco Taxes and Public Policy to Discourage Smoking," NBER Chapters, in: Tax Policy and the Economy, Volume 13, pages 1-56 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Eugene M. Lewit & Douglas Coate & Michael Grossman, 1981. "The Effects of Government Regulation on Teenage Smoking," NBER Working Papers 0655, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Steven D. Levitt & Lance Lochner, 2001. "The Determinants of Juvenile Crime," NBER Chapters, in: Risky Behavior among Youths: An Economic Analysis, pages 327-374 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Jonathan Gruber & Botond Köszegi, 2001. "Is Addiction "Rational"? Theory And Evidence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 116(4), pages 1261-1303, November.
  9. Becker, Gary S & Murphy, Kevin M, 1988. "A Theory of Rational Addiction," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 96(4), pages 675-700, August.
  10. Eugene M. Lewit & Douglas Coate, 1981. "The Potential for Using Excise Taxes to Reduce Smoking," NBER Working Papers 0764, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  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.
  12. Frank J. Chaloupka & Michael Grossman, 1996. "Price, Tobacco Control Policies and Youth Smoking," NBER Working Papers 5740, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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