Smoking: Making the Risky Decision / Edition 1

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Are the risks of smoking exaggerated? Has there been an open and rational discussion about the risks of smoking? This book attempts to answer these and many other questions about smoking. It provides a detailed empirical presentation on smoking behavior as a risky consumer decision. Using new empirical data based on several national and regional surveys, Viscusi addresses several issues, including: the sources of information that people have about the risks of smoking, the accuracy of their perceptions of risks associated with smoking, and the consistency of smoking decisions with other risky behavior—scrutinizing issues such as whether smokers value risk differently than those who wear safety belts. Viscusi also looks at the differences in age groups and how they assess these risks based on public information. He provides new insight into the degree to which individuals understand smoking risks and take these risks into account in their smoking behavior. With its detailed empirical data and its examination of individual decision-making processes, this work will interest researchers in public health, public policy analysis, psychology, and economics, as well as anyone concerned with this important issue.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Well written and accessible to a broad audience....The book is well worth reading for anyone interested in these topics."—Journal of Economic Literature

"A thought provoking book that will be of interest to researchers and policy makers concerned with smoking and public health."—British Medical Journal

"As much as any economist, Viscusi has undertaken the difficult task of disciplining formal models with detailed observation of actual judgements and behaviors. Smoking: Making the Risky Decision is a milestone in this long-term project, a book with theoretical and practical importance."—Baruch Fischhoff, Carnegie Mellon University

"This book combines two disciplines, cognitive psychology and the economics of risk, to make an important contribution to the smoking debate. Viscusi shows that persons in all age groups overestimate smoking risks, as theory predicts, and that persons behave rationally respecting the smoking decision given their perception of the facts. After these findings, the smoking decision can justifiably be regulated only in consequence of third party effects, not because consumers make poor health choices.—Alan Schwartz, Yale Law School

"This book has a point of view that is underrepresented in the debate over smoking policy—that the objective of public policy should not be a smoke-free society, but risk taking based on accurate information and promoting competition for safer cigarettes."—Joseph P. Newhouse, Harvard Medical School

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195074864
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 11/28/1992
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 184
  • Product dimensions: 6.50 (w) x 9.50 (h) x 0.89 (d)

Table of Contents

1 Smoking as a Regulated Risky Decision 3
The Economic Significance of Smoking Behavior 3
Principal Findings 4
The Decision Context of the Results 12
2 The Cognitive and Informational Context 17
The Debate over Smoking Behavior 18
The Determinants of Risk Perceptions 22
Sources of Risk Information 29
Cigarette Advertising 35
Conclusion 44
3 Long-Term Trends in Attitudes toward Smoking 47
Public Opinion Survey Data on Smoking 48
Changes in Smoking Behavior 53
Conclusion 58
4 Smoking Risk Perceptions 61
The Data Base and the Empirical Framework 62
Individual Perceptions of Lung Cancer Risks 65
Estimation of the Determinants of Risk Perceptions 72
Alternative Risk Question Formats: Are the Findings Robust? 74
Conclusion 82
5 The Effect of Risks on Smoking Behavior 87
Smoking Attitudes and Sources of Risk Information 88
The Smoking Probability Equation 95
The Effect of Unbiased Perceptions 99
Cigarette Demand and the Lung Cancer Risk Equivalent of Excise Taxes 101
Tastes, Addiction, and Ethics 109
Conclusion 115
6 Individual Learning and Age Variations in Risk Perceptions and Smoking Decisions 119
Sample Characteristics 122
Patterns of Risk Perception 122
The Lung Cancer Risk-Perception Equation 125
Age Differences in Smoking Behavior 128
Conclusion 129
Appendix 6A. The Risk-Perception Model 129
Appendix 6B. The Econometric Model 131
Appendix 6C. Testing for Age Differences in Smoking Behavior 133
7 The Quest for Rational Risk-Taking Decisions 139
Smoking Behavior and Economic Rationality 139
Implications for Current Smoking Policy 144
Market Competition for Safer Cigarettes 146
New Opportunities for Government Policy 149
Appendix A: Text of Survey Instrument Used in Audits & Surveys Study 153
Bibliography 159
Index 169
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