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The Demand for Cigarettes as Derived from the Demand for Weight Control

  • Cawley, J.;
  • Von Hinke Kessler Scholder, S.;

We provide new evidence on the extent to which the demand for cigarettes is derived from the demand for weight control (i.e. weight loss or avoidance of weight gain). We utilize nationally representative data that provide the most direct evidence to date on this question: individuals are directly asked whether they smoke to control their weight. We find that,among teenagers who smoke frequently, 46% of girls and 30% of boys are smoking in part to control their weight. This practice is significantly more common among youths who describe themselves as too fat than those who describe themselves as about the right weight. The derived demand for cigarettes has important implications for tax policy. Under reasonable assumptions, the demand for cigarettes is less price elastic among those who smoke for weight control. Thus, taxes on cigarettes will result in less behavior change (but more revenue collection and less deadweight loss) among those for whom the demand for cigarettes is a derived demand. Public health efforts to reduce smoking initiation and encourage cessation may wish to design campaigns to alter the derived nature of cigarette demand, especially among adolescent girls.

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Paper provided by HEDG, c/o Department of Economics, University of York in its series Health, Econometrics and Data Group (HEDG) Working Papers with number 13/06.

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Date of creation: Feb 2013
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Handle: RePEc:yor:hectdg:13/06
Contact details of provider: Postal: HEDG/HERC, Department of Economics and Related Studies, University of York, York, YO10 5DD, United Kingdom
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  1. van Ours, Jan C., 2003. "Is cannabis a stepping-stone for cocaine?," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(4), pages 539-554, July.
  2. Dee, Thomas S., 1999. "The complementarity of teen smoking and drinking," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(6), pages 769-793, December.
  3. Shin-Yi Chou & Michael Grossman & Henry Saffer, 2002. "An Economic Analysis of Adult Obesity: Results from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System," NBER Working Papers 9247, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Cawley, John & Markowitz, Sara & Tauras, John, 2004. "Lighting up and slimming down: the effects of body weight and cigarette prices on adolescent smoking initiation," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(2), pages 293-311, March.
  5. John Cawley, 2004. "The Impact of Obesity on Wages," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 39(2).
  6. John Cawley & Richard V. Burkhauser, 2006. "Beyond BMI: The Value of More Accurate Measures of Fatness and Obesity in Social Science Research," NBER Working Papers 12291, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. John Cawley & Sara Markowitz & John Tauras, 2006. "Obesity, Cigarette Prices, Youth Access Laws, and Adolescent Smoking Initiation," Eastern Economic Journal, Eastern Economic Association, vol. 32(1), pages 149-170, Winter.
  8. van Ours, J.C., 2003. "Is cannabis a stepping stone for cocaine?," Other publications TiSEM c1213d1c-a542-4627-938c-7, School of Economics and Management.
  9. Rees, Daniel I. & Sabia, Joseph J., 2010. "Body weight and smoking initiation: Evidence from Add Health," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(5), pages 774-777, September.
  10. 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.
  11. DiNardo, John & Lemieux, Thomas, 2001. "Alcohol, marijuana, and American youth: the unintended consequences of government regulation," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 20(6), pages 991-1010, November.
  12. 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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