Smoking cessation and body weight: evidence from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey

Health Serv Res. 2012 Aug;47(4):1580-602. doi: 10.1111/j.1475-6773.2012.01380.x. Epub 2012 Feb 22.


Objective: To investigate the role of smoking cessation in body weight.

Data sources: 2004-2005 and 2009-2010 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Surveys (BRFSS) (N = 349,000), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Tax Burden on Tobacco (Orzechowski and Walker 2010).

Study design: The Gaussian treatment effect model is estimated for three age categories by gender. Treatment effects of quitting smoking on body mass index (BMI) by quit length are calculated.

Principal findings: Quitting is found to be endogenous. Differentiated effects of quitting smoking on BMI are found among quitters by gender, between age groups, and by length of time since quitting smoking, and positive association between smoking cessation and body weight confirmed. Declining smoking rates have only a modest effect in the overweight population. The effects of quitting on BMI are considerably lower among younger men and women.

Conclusion: The price that must be paid, in terms of weight gain, to enjoy the health benefits of smoking cessation is trivial even for the obese population.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System*
  • Body Mass Index
  • Body Weight*
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S.
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Models, Econometric
  • Smoking Cessation*
  • United States
  • Weight Gain*