Lighting up and slimming down: the effects of body weight and cigarette prices on adolescent smoking initiation

J Health Econ. 2004 Mar;23(2):293-311. doi: 10.1016/j.jhealeco.2003.12.003.


This paper examines the influence of body weight, body image, and cigarette prices in determining adolescent smoking initiation. Adolescents who desire to lose weight may initiate smoking as a method of appetite control. Such behavior may undermine the goals of tobacco control policies that seek to prevent smoking initiation. Using a nationally representative panel of adolescents, we show that smoking initiation is more likely among females who are overweight, who report trying to lose weight, or who describe themselves as overweight. In contrast, neither objective nor subjective measures of weight predict smoking initiation by males. Higher cigarette prices decrease the probability of smoking initiation among males but have no impact on female smoking initiation. These gender-specific differences may help explain the mixed and inconclusive evidence of the impact of price on smoking initiation found in previous literature.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior / psychology*
  • Body Image*
  • Body Weight*
  • Child
  • Choice Behavior
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Fees and Charges*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Mental Recall
  • Motivation
  • Obesity / prevention & control*
  • Obesity / psychology
  • Smoking / economics*
  • Smoking / epidemiology
  • Smoking / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States / epidemiology