Risk Beliefs and Smoking Behavior
Economic Inquiry, Vol. 46, No. 1, pp. 45-59, January 2008
15 Pages Posted: 19 Mar 2008
We analyze smoking risk beliefs and smoking behavior using individual data from 1997 for the United States and 1998 for Massachusetts. Smokers and adults more generally overestimate the lung cancer risks of smoking and the mortality risks and life expectancy loss. Higher risk beliefs decrease the probability of starting to smoke and increase the probability of quitting among those who begin. Better educated smokers have lower and more accurate risk beliefs, but education decreases the probability of smoking. Higher state cigarette taxes correlate with risk beliefs but not with smoking status. The uninsured are especially likely to remain current smokers.
JEL Classification: I12, I18, D80
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