Smoking Cessation among Older Americans

Dean R. Lillard, Cornell University
Donald Kenkel, Cornell University
Alan Mathios, Cornell University

Smoking cessation at every stage of the life-cycle and particularly among older Americans is an important part of a broad smoking cessation policy effort. We use retrospectively reported smoking behavior from two major data sets (PSID and CPS) to study economic determinants of decisions to quit. With these data we map tobacco control policies to individuals over their whole smoking lives. Consequently, we exploit more policy variation than the existing literature. Further we model how decisions to quit vary with events such as marriage, divorce, pregnancy, births, deaths of family members, and health shocks such as a heart attack, diagnoses of cancer, or stroke. Our results present a richer description of how policies affect decisions, controlling for the simultaneous occurrence of other important life events. Because medical evidence suggests that smokers enjoy health benefits even when they quit at older ages, our estimates have important policy implications.

Presented in Session 2: Aging and Inequality: Disparities in Health, Wealth and Well-Being