The Effect of Smoking on Obesity: Evidence from a Randomized Trial

60 Pages Posted: 1 Feb 2016

See all articles by Charles Courtemanche

Charles Courtemanche

Georgia State University - Andrew Young School of Policy Studies

Rusty Tchernis

Georgia State University - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Benjamin Ukert

University of Pennsylvania

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: January 2016

Abstract

This paper aims to identify the causal effect of smoking on body mass index (BMI) using data from the Lung Health Study, a randomized trial of smoking cessation treatments. Since nicotine is a metabolic stimulant and appetite suppressant, quitting or reducing smoking could lead to weight gain. Using randomized treatment assignment to instrument for smoking, we estimate that quitting smoking leads to an average long- run weight gain of 1.8-1.9 BMI units, or 11-12 pounds at the average height. These results imply that the drop in smoking in recent decades explains 14% of the concurrent rise in obesity. Semi-parametric models provide evidence of a diminishing marginal effect of smoking on BMI, while subsample regressions show that the impact is largest for younger individuals, females, those with no college degree, and those in the lowest quartile of baseline BMI.

Suggested Citation

Courtemanche, Charles and Tchernis, Rusty and Ukert, Benjamin, The Effect of Smoking on Obesity: Evidence from a Randomized Trial (January 2016). NBER Working Paper No. w21937. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2725715

Charles Courtemanche (Contact Author)

Georgia State University - Andrew Young School of Policy Studies ( email )

P.O. Box 3992
Atlanta, GA 30302-3992
United States
404-413-0082 (Phone)

Rusty Tchernis

Georgia State University - Department of Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 3992
Atlanta, GA 30302-3992
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www2.gsu.edu/~ecort

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

IZA Institute of Labor Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Benjamin Ukert

University of Pennsylvania ( email )

Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States

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