Cigarette smokers, Cigarette smokers -- Health risk assessment, Parent and child, Parents -- Health risk assessment, Parents -- Tobacco use, Risk perception, Smoking, Smoking -- Health aspects, Willingness to pay


This dissertation is an empirical investigation into the roles that different quantifiable and measurable perceptions play in defining individual behavior across a variety of decision-making contexts. In particular, the focus lies on smokers and the choices they make with regard to smoking and beyond. Chapter 1 analyzes a nationally representative sample of adults (23 years and older) in the United States, pertaining to the Annenberg Perception of Tobacco Risk Survey II (1999-2000). It is observed that three dimensions to smoking behavior viz., risk, temporality and addiction, interact to determine the smoking status of an individual. Although previous studies mostly looked into each of these dimensions in isolation, in this chapter, we empirically illustrate how perceptions on risk, time dimensions and addiction, jointly influence the smoking behavior of adults. Chapter 2 casts the smoker in the role of a parent and explores parental behavior towards the general health-risks facing their children. Using the dataset from a survey (2009), conducted in Orlando, Florida, on parents, having at least one child aged between 1 and 16 years, the chapter arrives at two findings relevant for policy: i) In each of the ‗smoker‘ and ‗non-smoker‘ parent categories, parents exhibit equal concern for themselves and their children, and ii) the level of concern shown by smoker-parents, towards health-risks faced by their children, is the same as that shown by their non-smoking counterparts. The analysis in this chapter also affirms the need to incorporate subjective risk assessment in willingness-to-pay (WTP) exercises to facilitate a deeper behavioral analysis of health risk valuation. Lastly, in Chapter 3, we focus on the issue of quantitative assessment of the perception of health risks from smoking. Particular interest lies in understanding how variants of a metric - namely, a survey question - have been employed in academic studies and industry-surveys, in order to measure smoking-related risk-perceptions. In the process of reviewing select tobacco-industry survey iv records, we analyze the implications of different features of this metric, (e.g., use of a ‗probe‘, the ‗Don‘t Know‘ option), and various interview modes (e.g. telephonic, face-to-face), for the estimates of perceived risk arrived at in these studies. The review makes clear that two aspects of health risks from smoking – the risk of contracting a smoking-related disease, as against the risk of prematurely dying from it conditional upon getting affected – have not been jointly explored so far. The dataset obtained from the Family Heart Disease and Prevention Survey (November 2010-March 2011), provides a unique opportunity to explore these two kinds of probabilities, particularly with regard to the risks of lung-cancer from smoking. Chapter 3 concludes by illustrating how individuals evaluate both these aspects of health-risks. While the probability of getting lung-cancer is found to be overestimated in conjunction with previous studies, the conditional probability of premature death is severely underestimated. Additionally, it is found that individuals‘ subjective assessments of either of these risk aspects predict smoking behavior in an identical manner. This calls into question the so-called ‗rationality‘ of smoking decisions with implications for policies designed for the control of tobacco consumption.


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Gerking, Shelby


Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


College of Business Administration



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Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)


Business Administration -- Dissertations, Academic, Dissertations, Academic -- Business Administration

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