Monday, September 03, 2007

Advertising smoking cessation products encourages their use & cold turkey quits

Avery et al. (2007) in the June 2007 JPE (subscription required) examine whether advertising of cigarette smoking cessation products (reprint) does induce smoking quits or not.

They find people exposed to such advertising are more likely to attempt to quit and more likely to successfully quit. Moreover such advertising induces ‘cold turkey’ quits that do not involve use of cessation products – these are positive externalities associated with such advertising and raise the social return from such advertising above its private return to producers of cessation products.

This analysis does not consider the issue of whether such advertising increases incentives to initiate smoking – it probably does not but young smokers may smoke more intensely with such advertising on the grounds that eventual quitting options seem to have improved.

In many countries there are restrictions on the availability of cessation products and stringent controls on their advertising. The evidence in Avery et al. suggests this is probably bad policy. In principal there is a case for subsidising such advertising or, at least, not restricting it.

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