:: Saturday, July 24, 2004 ::

If it's not one thing it's another
The tremendous success of anti-smoking efforts may be one contributing factor to the rise in obesity in the United States, according to some new research. In "The Economics of Obesity," researchers Inas Rashad and Michael Grossman write:
We have also unmasked a second and perhaps more surprising culprit in the alarming rise in obesity: the crackdown on smoking via tax increases. Higher cigarette taxes and higher cigarette prices have caused more smokers to quit -- but these smokers seem to have begun eating more as a result (emphasis added by bloggedy blog). According to our research, each 10 percent increase in the real price of cigarettes produces a 2 percent increase in the number of obese people, other things being equal.

... Our findings underscore the idea that social action can have unintended consequences: Oftentimes, there is a tradeoff involved in achieving goals that society favors, such as increased food production, more workforce participation by women, and fewer smokers. ...

The main message of contemporary research is that there is no free lunch, that with benefits come costs. Positive changes such as increases in technology, reduced smoking, and increased female participation in the labor force have also carried unforseen negative consequences. Was the anti-smoking campaign a mistake if it also encouraged obesity? Of course, we do not believe people should start smoking in order to become thin, substituting one type of unhealthy behavior for another. This was simply one of the unintended consequences of social change and government action.

The law of unintended consequences at work, I guess.

Link via Arts & Letters Daily.

:: Andrew 12:16 + ::

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