An empirical investigation of the social market for cigarettes

Health Econ. 2007 Oct;16(10):1025-39. doi: 10.1002/hec.1215.


A major characteristic of teenage smoking is the ability to 'bum' cigarettes from peers. To date, research into the determinants of teenage smoking has largely ignored the effects of this social market on the smoking decisions of teenagers. In this paper, we estimate the demand for cigarettes using data from the Youth Risk Behavior Survey which distinguishes teens who primarily buy cigarettes from those who primarily borrow cigarettes. Our results demonstrate the ways in which higher cigarette prices and restrictions on smoking influence not only a teen's decision to smoke and the quantity of cigarettes smoked, but also the manner in which cigarettes are acquired. We show that current cigarette regulations are ineffective in reaching the group of light smokers who primarily obtain cigarettes through the social market, thus indicating that alternative measures should be explored in an effort to reduce the number of smokers in the future.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior*
  • Commerce / economics*
  • Costs and Cost Analysis / economics*
  • Female
  • Health Policy*
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Male
  • Models, Economic
  • Risk-Taking
  • Social Behavior
  • Tobacco*