Ricochet is the best place on the internet to discuss the issues of the day, either through commenting on posts or writing your own for our active and dynamic community in a fully moderated environment. In addition, the Ricochet Audio Network offers over 50 original podcasts with new episodes released every day.
But it also, as everyone used to know, helps keep the pounds off. Smoking, for a lot of people, replaces eating. Don’t take my word for it. A new study proves it.
This paper aims to identify the causal effect of smoking on body mass index (BMI) using data from the Lung Health Study, a randomized trial of smoking cessation treatments. Since nicotine is a metabolic stimulant and appetite suppressant, quitting or reducing smoking could lead to weight gain. Using randomized treatment assignment to instrument for smoking, we estimate that quitting smoking leads to an average long-run weight gain of 1.5-1.7 BMI units, or 11-12 pounds at the average height. These magnitudes are considerably larger than those typically estimated by studies that do not account for the endogeneity of smoking. Our results imply that the drop in smoking in recent decades explains 14% of the concurrent rise in obesity.
Let me break out that last sentence one more time:
Our results imply that the drop in smoking in recent decades explains 14% of the concurrent rise in obesity.
For the past 40 years or more, the government has been trying to get us all to quit smoking. Which, in droves, we did. Tobacco use in the US has plummeted.
But we compensated, apparently, with doughnuts and venti lattés and Double Quarter Pounders with Cheese. What we didn’t smoke, we ate.
As Thomas Sowell has taught us, “There are no solutions. There are only trade-offs.”
We might be healthier, on balance, smoking a bit more and eating a bit less. But don’t tell that to the government.Published in