Cigarette taxes and youth smoking: new evidence from national, state, and local Youth Risk Behavior Surveys

J Health Econ. 2008 Mar;27(2):287-99. doi: 10.1016/j.jhealeco.2007.05.008. Epub 2007 Dec 5.


Several studies have examined the effects of state cigarette tax increases on youth substance use over the 1990s, with most--but not all--finding that higher taxes reduce youth consumption of tobacco. We advance the literature by using data from the 1991 to 2005 waves of the national Youth Risk Behavior Surveys (YRBS), providing information on over 100,000 high school age youths. We also are the first to make use of hundreds of independently fielded state and local versions of the YRBS, reflecting data from over 750,000 youths. Importantly, these data are to our knowledge the only sources of relevant information on youth smoking that were explicitly designed to be representative of the sampled state or locality. We estimate two-way fixed effects models of the effect of state cigarette taxes on youth smoking, controlling for survey demographics and area and year fixed effects. Our most consistent finding is that--contrary to some recent research--the large state tobacco tax increases of the past 15 years were associated with significant reductions in smoking participation and frequent smoking by youths. Our price elasticity estimates for smoking participation by high school youths are generally smaller than previous cross-sectional approaches but are similar to recent quasi-experimental estimates.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Female
  • Health Behavior*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Smoking / economics*
  • Smoking / epidemiology
  • Taxes / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • United States / epidemiology