Posts Tagged ‘smoking’

Assorted links

January 15, 2010

1) A talking plate that tells you when you’re eating too fast. Yes, it actually talks. No, it doesn’t look fun to eat on. Hat tip: Nirant Gupta

2) A pilot program in the U.K. that gives loans to homeowners for buying energy efficient technologies at no upfront cost. Loan repayments are made over time. Hat tip: Kare Anderson.

3) A claim that cigarette warnings might encourage some people to smoke. Hat tip: Freakonomics.

4) Donate to Haitian relief via texting. Consider the American Red Cross and Yéle Haiti. These two options are not scams. Here’s more on what to know about text donations. Hat tip: Amy Schultz.

Assorted links

December 2, 2009

1) A classroom nudge for college professors. Include one lie in each lecture and ask students to point out the error. They’ll pay attention to the material more closely.

Hat tip: David de Souza

2) Enviromedia, friend of the Nudge blog and the creator of, a tool for ferreting out misleading green ads, has unveiled a new web site,, to help people decode the language of climate change. The United Nation’s climate change conference is this month in Copenhagen.

3) Philadelphia now requires that lenders and homeowners meet in person prior to foreclosure. Will these meetings lessen foreclosure rates?

Hat tip: Christopher Daggett

4) Tips for remembering your reusable grocery bag.

Hat tip: Katie Astofer

5) Because it’s just too good to resist. From a 1952 Life magazine.

Hat tip: Thought Gadgets

Why policymakers need to be humble

September 24, 2008

File this away in the unintended consequences vault: Drunk driving deaths in the U.S. spike following smoking ban laws.

Although an increased accident risk might seem surprising at first, two strands of literature on consumer behavior suggest potential explanations—smokers driving longer distances to a bordering jurisdiction that allows smoking in bars and smokers driving longer distances within their jurisdiction to bars that still allow smoking, perhaps through non-compliance or outdoor seating. We find evidence consistent with both explanations. The increased miles driven by drivers wishing to smoke and drink offsets any reduction in driving from smokers choosing to stay home following a ban, resulting in increased alcohol-related accidents.

The increases are between 10 and 19 percent. The paper, by Scott Adams and Chad Cotti, is here.

A reader proposes a plan to have smokers recoup some of their cigarette taxes if they quit

June 20, 2008

Reader Dan Pecoraro says he has had this idea about cigarettes “for awhile.” Pecoraro’s idea is more intricate than a simple contractual agreement between individuals to quit smoking, and includes a public policy angle. Implementing it would probably be an expensive headache. Pecoraro knows that. Think of this as an idea in the conceptual stage.

Continue reading the post here.

Qutting smoking can be as contagious as starting

May 22, 2008

The last estimate we found for the influence of smoking habits by a spouse was 40 percent, meaning the spouse of a person who quits is 40 percent more likely to quit as well. A new study, of a 30-year social network comprised of 12,000 people (the same one used to study obesity), authored by a Harvard medical professor and a UC-San Diego political scientists, estimates spousal influence at almost 70 percent! Even having a co-worker who quits increased a person’s chance of quitting by 34 percent.

I smoke. My spouse just quit. Will I be affected?

April 21, 2008

One married couple. Two smokers. One goes cold turkey. What happens to the other? Quit entirely? Smoke less? How much less? A paper by David Cutler and Edward Glaeser at Harvard’s Kennedy School investigate spousal influence on smoking. Measuring this influence on any behavior has always been tricky because both spouse’s decisions influence the other. To get around this problem, Cutler and Glaeser use a complex statistical model in which they use the presence of workplace bans for one spouse to measure the reduction in smoking by the other spouse.

Cutler and Glaeser estimate that the effect of one spouse’s quitting on the other is, on average, 40 percent. However, the influence is not symmetric. Wives have a bigger impact on husbands than husbands have on wives. Impacts are larger among spouses with higher education levels. The two also try to determine whether smoking bans have spillover effects beyond individual marriages. These effects show up at aggregation levels beyond individuals, which means that cities and states with workplace smoking bans have lower smoking rates overall. This need not be the case. People could simply shift their smoking patterns, which would not change state smoking rates dramatically. Since the evidence does not suggest this happens, they conclude that broader smoking bans that go beyond individual workplaces could reduce smoking. They write:

These results suggest that policy interventions that impact an individual’s smoking habit will have both direct effects and also indirect effects through on the smoking of peers. Workplace bans seem not only to have reduced worker smoking but also the smoking of the worker’s spouse. Our results also suggest that interventions are likely to have larger impacts when they are imposed at higher levels of aggregation, although we found little evidence suggesting that social interactions can explain the shape of the time series of smoking rates.

Quit smoking for the price of inflation

April 5, 2008

Freakonomics posts a paper by Yale’s Dean Karlan, founder of (officially Nudge-endorsed), titled latest paper “Put Your Money Where Your Butt Is” about an experiment in the Philippines.

Continue reading the post here.

Do governments always need to enforce laws?

April 4, 2008

Coercive power is government’s most frightening weapon (one that libertarian paternalists fear as much as libertarians), and the conventional wisdom inside and outside of academia says that bureaucracies that use this power to implement and enforce a given regulation will be more successful than those that do not.

Ironically, when looking at the data, there are a number of cases where coercion is not necessary for a successful policy (though no universal rules about when these cases occur).

Continue reading the post here.

Smoking license

March 28, 2008

The British government has been one of the most enthusiastic and innovative advocates of nudges, and of the more general political philosophy, libertarian paternalism. One proposal currently on the table in the U.K. is a smoking license. The license would cost just 10 pounds – about the same as two packs of cigarettes, depending on the brand – but would require a form “made deliberately complex to deter people from applying,” according to the article. One of the rules of a well-designed nudge is that it should be inexpensive to avoid. Is 10 pounds and a complex form cheap enough for smokers?