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Citation Information

Type Working Paper - Belarusian Economic Research and Outreach Center
Title Smoking and Obesity Revisited: Evidence from Belarus
Author(s)
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2012
URL http://bel.beroc.by/webroot/delivery/files/WP19_eng_Bornukova.pdf
Abstract
It has been hypothesized that the rising obesity rates in many countries are an unintended consequence of
anti-smoking policies. However, evidence of a causal effect of smoking on body weight is mixed. Using a
large nationally representative survey from Belarus, we estimate the effect of the number of cigarettes
smoked per day on individuals’ body mass index (BMI) and on the probability of being overweight and
obese. We instrument smoking variable using cigarette prices and group-specific smoking rates. We find
that smoking is negatively related to BMI, probability of overweight and obesity, and the magnitude of
the estimated effects is comparable to the estimates from other countries. In addition, quantile regression
analysis uncovers that the negative effect of smoking is higher at the higher percentiles of BMI
distribution. Same differences in the effect are found using ordered probit regression analyses. Our results
uncover a small negative effect of smoking on body size and obesity. These findings suggest that, while
smoking cessation may lead to some weight gain among subjects of healthy weight and above healthy
weight, the effects on obese subjects are small and should not be expected to significantly increase
obesity prevalence.

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