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American Economic Evidence that Smokeless Works

Smokeless tobacco, smoking cessation and harm reduction: an economic analysis. Published in Applied Economics (Volume 36, pages 17-29, January2004) by Richard W. Ault, Robert Ekelund, Jr., John D. Jackson and Richard P. Saba. (TRF)

Almost half a century of tobacco regulation has had a dramatic effect on smoking behavior in the United States. Yet, by the end of the 20th century a definable hard core of cigarette smokers remains. Good estimates place hard core smoking rates in the US at approximately 25%, with little change over the decade of the 1990s.

This study examines the possibilities of harm reduction with the use of smokeless tobacco. Specifically, applying an econometric model to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) III database, the Auburn economic researchers determined whether the use of smokeless tobacco led to reduced smoking rates in the US.

This study found that use of smokeless tobacco by American men increases the average probability of quitting smoking by 10%. As a result, approximately 3 million successful quit-smoking attempts would occur among 26 million smokers.

Important implications for life extension and health costs would result with, under conservative assumptions, approximately 2.2 million life-years saved and health care cost savings of about $3 billion per year.

This study was supported by the UAB Tobacco Research Fund (TRF).