Health information and life-course smoking behavior: evidence from Turkey
Lillard, D. R.
European Journal of Health Economics
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We investigate whether individuals are less likely to start and more likely to quit smoking in years when newspapers publish more articles about the health risks of smoking. With data from 9030 respondents to the 2008 Global Adult Tobacco Survey in Turkey, we construct respondents’ life-course smoking histories back to 1925 and model initiation and cessation decisions taken 1925-2008. To measure information, we count articles published in Milliyet, one of Turkey’s major newspapers. Results from linear probability models show that people who have seen more smoking-health risk articles know more about the smoking-health relationship. Holding constant each individual’s information stock, education, place of residence, and the price of cigarettes, we find that, as new information arrives, male and female smokers in all cohorts are significantly more likely to quit and women are less likely to start. Our analysis is one of the first that examines how new information affects smoking decisions while controlling for each individual’s existing stock of information.