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Youth Smoking in the U.S.: Evidence and Implications

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  • Jonathan Gruber
  • Jonathan Zinman

Abstract

The one-third rise in the teen smoking rate in the 1990s has led to considerable interest in understanding the determinants of the youth smoking decision. We explore four aspects of this decision. First, we consider the demographic correlates of smoking participation, and find that smoking participation is not simply concentrated among the most disadvantaged youth; indeed, increasingly over time youth smoking is taking place among white, suburban youth with college educated parents and good grades. Second, we show that neither changes in demographic characteristics nor changes in attitudes towards smoking can explain the striking increase in smoking rates in the 1990s. Third, we document that price is a powerful determinant of smoking for high school seniors; using state fixed effects models on data for the 1991-1997 period we estimate an elasticity of smoking participation of -0.67, which suggest that the drop in cigarette prices in the early 1990s can explain 26% of the subsequent upwards smoking trend for seniors. But price is not important for younger teens, although we do find some evidence that restrictions on access to cigarette purchases can lower the quantity that younger teens smoke. Finally, we document that there is an important intertemporal correlation in the decision to smoke. In particular, we find that there is a significant correlation across cohorts in teen smoking and later smoking of adults, and that the taxes that teens face on cigarettes have a significant negative effect on their smoking later in life. These findings suggest that between 25 and 50% of the rise in youth smoking in the 1990s will persist into adulthood for this cohort; rough calculations suggest that the long run cost to the U.S. will be at least 1.6 million years of life lost from this youth smoking increase.

Suggested Citation

  • Jonathan Gruber & Jonathan Zinman, 2000. "Youth Smoking in the U.S.: Evidence and Implications," NBER Working Papers 7780, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:7780
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    Cited by:

    1. cuong, nguyen, 2010. "Smoking behavior in Vietnam: demographic and socioeconomic determinants," MPRA Paper 36516, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Thomas Bauer & Silja Göhlmann & Mathias Sinning, 2007. "Gender differences in smoking behavior," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 16(9), pages 895-909, September.
    3. Aughinbaugh, Alison & Gittleman, Maury, 2004. "Maternal employment and adolescent risky behavior," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(4), pages 815-838, July.
    4. Maria L. Loureiro & Anna Sanz-de-Galdeano & Daniela Vuri, 2009. "Smoking Habits: Like Father, Like Son, Like Mother, Like Daughter," CESifo Working Paper Series 2782, CESifo.
    5. Ryo Nakajima, 2007. "Measuring Peer Effects on Youth Smoking Behaviour," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 74(3), pages 897-935.
    6. Anger, Silke & Kvasnicka, Michael & Siedler, Thomas, 2011. "One Last Puff? Public Smoking Bans and Smoking Behavior," EconStor Open Access Articles, ZBW - Leibniz Information Centre for Economics, pages 591-601.
    7. Dimitris Christelis & Anna Sanz-de-Galdeano, 2009. "Smoking Persistence in Europe: A Semi-Parametric Panel Data Analysis with Selectivity," Working Papers 403, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
    8. Göhlmann, Silja, 2007. "The Determinants of Smoking Initiation - Empirical Evidence for Germany," Ruhr Economic Papers 27, RWI - Leibniz-Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-University Bochum, TU Dortmund University, University of Duisburg-Essen.
    9. Maria L. Loureiro & Anna Sanz-de-Galdeano & Daniela Vuri, 2010. "Smoking Habits: Like Father, Like Son, Like Mother, Like Daughter?," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 72(6), pages 717-743, December.
    10. Grignon, Michel, 2009. "An empirical investigation of heterogeneity in time preferences and smoking behaviors," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 38(5), pages 739-751, October.
    11. Frank A. Sloan & Justin G. Trogdon, 2004. "Litigation and the Political Clout of the Tobacco Companies: Cigarette Taxes, Prices, and the Master Settlement Agreement," School of Economics Working Papers 2004-04, University of Adelaide, School of Economics.
    12. Folland, Sherman & Islam, Muhammad Quamrul & Kaarbøe, Oddvar Martin, 2012. "The Social Capital and Health Hypothesis: A Theory and New Empirics Featuring the Norwegian HUNT Data," Working Papers in Economics 04/12, University of Bergen, Department of Economics.
    13. Diener, Alan & Ahmed, Rashid & Snider, Judy & Kaiserman, Murray, 2007. "Retailer Compliance as a Predictor of Youth Smoking Participation and Consumption," MPRA Paper 3078, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    14. Steven M. Suranovic, 2005. "An Economic Model of Youth Smoking: Tax and Welfare Effects," HEW 0511003, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    15. 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.
    16. Alberto Bisin & Andrea Moro & Giorgio Topa, 2011. "The Empirical Content of Models with Multiple Equilibria in Economies with Social Interactions," NBER Working Papers 17196, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    17. Michael Bahrs & Mathias Schumann, 2020. "Unlucky to be young? The long-term effects of school starting age on smoking behavior and health," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 33(2), pages 555-600, April.
    18. Lalith Munasinghe & Nachum Sicherman, 2006. "Why Do Dancers Smoke? Smoking, Time Preference, and Wage Dynamics," Eastern Economic Journal, Eastern Economic Association, vol. 32(4), pages 595-616, Fall.
    19. Christian Bantle & John P. Haisken-DeNew, 2002. "Smoke Signals: The Intergenerational Transmission of Smoking Behavior," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 277, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
    20. Rosa Duarte & José Escario & José Molina, 2006. "The psychosocial behaviour of young Spanish smokers," Journal of Consumer Policy, Springer, vol. 29(2), pages 176-189, June.
    21. Christelis, Dimitris & Sanz-de-Galdeano, Anna, 2011. "Smoking persistence across countries: A panel data analysis," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(5), pages 1077-1093.
    22. Stehr, Mark, 2005. "Cigarette tax avoidance and evasion," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(2), pages 277-297, March.
    23. 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, February.

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    JEL classification:

    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health
    • H21 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Efficiency; Optimal Taxation

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