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Smoking Cessation and Body Weight: Evidence from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey


Address correspondence to Steven T. Yen, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, The University of Tennessee, 302 Morgan Hall, Knoxville, TN 37996-4518, e-mail:



To investigate the role of smoking cessation in body weight.

Data Sources

2004–2005 and 2009–2010 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Surveys (BRFSS) (= 349,000), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Tax Burden on Tobacco (Orzechowski and Walker 2010).

Study Design

The Gaussian treatment effect model is estimated for three age categories by gender. Treatment effects of quitting smoking on body mass index (BMI) by quit length are calculated.

Principal Findings

Quitting is found to be endogenous. Differentiated effects of quitting smoking on BMI are found among quitters by gender, between age groups, and by length of time since quitting smoking, and positive association between smoking cessation and body weight confirmed. Declining smoking rates have only a modest effect in the overweight population. The effects of quitting on BMI are considerably lower among younger men and women.


The price that must be paid, in terms of weight gain, to enjoy the health benefits of smoking cessation is trivial even for the obese population.