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Risk Perceptions, Information and Smoking

Principal Investigator: Frank Sloan, Ph.D. , Professor
Publications Type: Journal Article
Author(s): Sloan F., Smith V., Taylor, Jr. D.
Article Title: Information, addiction and bad choices: Lessons from a century of cigarettes
Journal: Economics Letters
Volume/Issue/Pages: 77, 2: 147-155
Year: 2002
This study describes government interventions during the 1900s and their effects on cigarette consumption within a rational addiction framework. With annual data for the 20th century, impacts of specific antismoking information events disappear. U.S. per capita cigarette demand changed before any information about health effects of smoking was widely distributed.
Publications Type: Journal Article
Author(s): Smith V., Taylor, Jr. D., Sloan F.., Johnson F., Desvousges W.
Article Title: Do smokers respond to health shocks?
Journal: Review of Economics & Statistics
Volume/Issue/Pages: 83, 4: 675-687
Year: 2001
This paper reports the first effort to use data to evaluate how new information, acquired through exogenous health shocks, affects people's longevity expectations. We find that smokers react differently to health shocks than do those who quit smoking or never smoked. These differences, together with insights from qualitative research conducted along with the statistical analysis, suggest specific changes in the health warnings used to reduce smoking. Our specific focus is on how current smokers responded to health information in comparison to former smokers and nonsmokers. The three groups use significantly different updating rules to revise their assessments about longevity. The most significant finding of our study documents that smokers differ from persons who do not smoke in how information influences their personal longevity expectations. When smokers experience smoking-related health shocks, they interpret this information as reducing their chances of living to age 75 or more. Our estimated models imply smokers update their longevity expectations more dramatically than either former smokers or those who never smoked. Smokers are thus assigning a larger risk equivalent to these shocks. They do not react comparably to general health shocks, implying that specific information about smoking-related health events is most likely to cause them to update beliefs. It remains to be evaluated whether messages can be designed that focus on the link between smoking and health outcomes in ways that will have comparable effects on smokers' risk perceptions.
Publications Type: Journal Article
Author(s): Smith V.K., Taylor, Jr. D.H., Sloan F.A.
Article Title: Longevity expectations and death: Can people predict their own demise?
Journal: American Economic Review
Volume/Issue/Pages: 91, 4: 1126-1134
Year: 2001
No abstract available.

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