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Smoking and Mortality: New Evidence from a Long Panel

Listed author(s):
  • Michael Darden


    (Department of Economics, Tulane University)

  • Donna B. Gilleskie


    (Department of Economics, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)

  • Koleman Strumpf


    (School of Business, University of Kansas)

Using data from Framingham Heart Study participants interviewed and examined at frequent intervals over much of their adult lifetime, we discover a relationship between smoking and mortality that differs significantly in magnitude from findings in the medical and epidemiological literature. We attribute the finding of smaller deleterious health impacts of smoking to a failure by previous studies to appropriately account for the non- random nature of lifetime smoking patterns and health histories. We provide causal and consistent estimates of the expected longevity consequences of current smoking, smoking cessation, smoking duration, and smoking experience by jointly modeling individual health heterogeneity, by including supply-side factors such as cigarette advertising and prices, and by allowing for permanent and time-varying unobserved heterogeneity in a flexible yet comprehensive multiple equation joint estimation procedure. We simulate our estimated empirical model under a variety of lifetime smoking patterns, and we compare the resulting mortality differences to the epidemiological literature that treats smoking behavior as random. Our results suggest that difference-in-means statistics significantly overstate the expected longevity loss from various patterns of lifetime smoking. For comparison, the (biased) unconditional difference-in-means in age of death between lifelong smokers and nonsmokers is 9.3 years in our research sample, while simulations from our estimated dynamic model suggest the difference is only 4.3 years. Additionally, our results examine the importance of smoking cessation and relapse avoidance.

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File Function: First Version, June 2015
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Paper provided by Tulane University, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 1503.

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Date of creation: Jun 2015
Handle: RePEc:tul:wpaper:1503
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  1. Schneider, Lynne & Klein, Benjamin & Murphy, Kevin M, 1981. "Governmental Regulation of Cigarette Health Information," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 24(3), pages 575-612, December.
  2. Lester G. Telser, 1962. "Advertising and Cigarettes," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 70, pages 471-471.
  3. David Merriman, 2010. "The Micro-geography of Tax Avoidance: Evidence from Littered Cigarette Packs in Chicago," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 2(2), pages 61-84, May.
  4. 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.
  5. Jonathan Gruber & Botond Köszegi, 2001. "Is Addiction "Rational"? Theory and Evidence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 116(4), pages 1261-1303.
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