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Obesity, Cigarette Prices, Youth Access Laws, and Adolescent Smoking Initiation

John Cawley (), Sara Markowitz () and John Tauras

Eastern Economic Journal, 2006, vol. 32, issue 1, 149-170

Abstract: This paper examines the role of body weight in smoking initiation by adolescents. We estimate discrete-time hazard models of the decision to initiate smoking using data from the Children of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, 1979 Cohort. We control for cigarette prices, tobacco control policies and socioeconomic factors. To avoid problems stemming from the endogeneity of body weight, we also estimate models using the method of instrumental variables. We find clear gender differences. Lighter girls are less likely to initiate smoking, while current weight is uncorrelated with initiation among boys. Among girls, smoking initiation is insensitive to cigarette prices, but among boys smoking initiation is negatively correlated with cigarette prices. These gender-specific differences may help explain the mixed evidence of the impact of price on smoking initiation found in previous literature.

Date: 2006
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Eastern Economic Journal is currently edited by Cynthia A. Bansak, St. Lawrence University and Allan A. Zebedee, Clarkson University

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