Healthy, nudged, and wise: Experimental evidence on the role of information salience in reducing tobacco intake

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Abstract

We evaluate the performance of two behavioral interventions aimed at reducing tobacco consumption in an ultra-poor rural region of Bangladesh, where conventional methods like taxes and warning labels are infeasible. The first intervention asked participants to daily log their tobacco consumption expenditure. The second intervention placed two graphic posters with warnings about the harmful effects of tobacco consumption on tobacco users and their children in the sleeping quarters of the participating households. While both interventions reduced household tobacco consumption expenditure, male participants who logged their expenditure substituted cigarettes with cheaper smokeless tobacco. The reduction in tobacco intake is larger among males with a non-tobacco consuming spouse. Exploratory analysis reveals that risk-averse males who spent relatively more on tobacco responded more to the logbook intervention. More educated, patient males with children below age five responded better to the poster intervention. The findings suggest that in countries with multi-tiered tobacco excise tax structures, which incentivize downward substitution, extending complementary demand-side policies that worked elsewhere to the rural poor might be unwise. Instead, policies may leverage something as universal as parental concern for their children's health to promote better health decision-making.

Original languageEnglish
JournalHealth Economics
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 28 Mar 2022

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