Please, read the article Hainer, R. (2010), provided in the required
readings section for this week. The tobacco industry is a prime example
to consider when talking about price elasticity of demand. While
nicotine use can be addictive for many users, it is not addictive for
the so-called "social smokers".
What can we say about the price elasticity of demand for nicotine
products (such as cigarettes, pipes, tobacco) in the group of nicotine
addicted users, versus the group of "social smokers"? Can we say whose
demand is likely to be more elastic? Why?
Provide your response to the discussion question in 300 words or more.
Further, comment on the effectiveness of government policy aimed at
reducing the negative effects of smoking on health. For example,
consider high taxation on producers? – is that effective? Respond
substantively to at least two of your classmates’ postings. Substantive
responses use theory, research, and experience or examples to support
ideas and further the class knowledge on the discussion topic.
There's a species of smoker among us that is common, yet poorly understood.
Their habitat consists of parties, barbecues, and the sidewalks outside bars and restaurants.
prefer to scrounge for their cigarettes, and if they do buy a pack,
they're apt to nurse it for a week or more. You may hear them say, "I'm
not a smoker," or "only on weekends."
These are "social smokers" -- and there are more of them than you might think.
is often characterized as an all-or-nothing activity -- on doctor's
office questionnaires it's usually a yes-or-no question, for instance --
but by some estimates, anywhere from one-fifth to one-third of adults
who smoke don't light up every day.
While some of these
so-called nondaily smokers smoke regularly but sparingly, up to 30
percent likely fall into the social-smoker category.
CDC urges 50-state anti-smoking push
numbers are difficult to come by, in part because the definition of a
social smoker is so vague. A 2007 study of social smoking among college
students -- one of very few that have been published on the subject --
found the term was used "loosely and inconsistently," even among
But most people know a social smoker when they see
one. They smoke occasionally, almost always in groups, and more often
than not while drinking alcohol. By definition, they do not consider
themselves addicted to nicotine. Many started smoking casually in high
school or college but never graduated to a daily habit.
out drinking, or hanging out with people who are smoking, then I usually
get the urge to smoke," says Vickie, 45, from New York. "But I might
smoke Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and then not smoke for a week."
friend Katherine, 46, has smoked intermittently since her college days,
but she limits it to specific times and places.
"I don't think
I've ever had a cigarette before 7 p.m.," she says. "I have smoked
alone, but very, very rarely, and I don't think I've bought a pack in 20
years. I know that I could put it down at any time."
Nicotine vaccine shows promise in early tests
she sometimes goes for months without smoking, she may smoke a whole
pack in a weekend if some old friends are in town or if she's on
"Smoking is a small indulgence that I sometimes do," says Katherine, "sort of like eating too much ice cream."
smoking is often compared with social drinking -- that is, the social
smoker is to the "real" smoker what the casual weekend drinker is to the
alcoholic. Even if social smokers (or drinkers) go a little overboard
sometimes, their behavior is still fundamentally different.
drinking is an "important analogy," says Saul Shiffman, PhD, a
professor of psychology at the University of Pittsburgh who specializes
in studying occasional smokers. One of the "hallmarks" of social
drinkers (the vast majority of those who drink alcohol), says Shiffman,
is that they drink in specific settings.
"They'll drink at dinner
with friends, they'll drink in the evenings on weekends -- but they
don't drink in the car, or first thing in the morning," he explains.
"It's the confinement of use to particular situations that marks someone
who uses a drug but not in an addictive way."
Social smoking is a trend
the overall number of smokers in the United States is dropping, the
proportion of occasional smokers appears to be on the rise.
surveys show that the number of nondaily smokers rose 40 percent
between 1998 and 2001, according to Shiffman. News reports and studies
have also provided anecdotal evidence that social smoking is increasing,
especially among young people.
Health.com: Social, sneaky or skinny? The 7 types of smokers
reasons for this apparent trend haven't been fully explained. Some
suggest that the growing awareness of health risks, the stigma
surrounding smoking (which may explain why the smokers interviewed for
this article didn't want their full names used), and smoking bans in
public places are causing heavy smokers to cut back.
instance, wouldn't be caught dead smoking around her two young
children, and the restrictions against smoking at work or inside bars
and restaurants are often enough to extinguish her urges, she says --
especially in the wintertime.
Another popular theory is that social smokers, unlike social drinkers, don't really exist.
smokers, the thinking goes, are low-level addicts either in denial or
on the brink of addiction. It's a bit like the old saying about there
being two types of motorcyclists: those who have had accidents and those
who are going to.
And research indicates that there may be
something to this: In the recent study of college students, 60 percent
of the students surveyed who denied that they were smokers did identify
themselves as social smokers; roughly 10 percent of these alleged
nonsmokers in fact smoked at least every other day.
theory may be a bit simplistic, however. We're accustomed to thinking of
everyone who smokes as an addict -- nicotine is known to be one of the
most addictive drugs, after all -- but according to the most recent
National Survey on Drug Use and Health, of the 40.9 million adults over
the age of 18 who had smoked a cigarette in the previous month, only
about 60 percent could be considered dependent on nicotine.
Health.com: Crazy ways smokers finally kicked the habit
remaining 40 percent includes social smokers, as well as a group known
as "chippers," a term originally used to describe intermittent,
nonaddicted users of heroin.
These smokers, who remain something
of a medical mystery, have smoked up to a pack a week for years, or
even decades, without becoming dependent on nicotine. When they stop
smoking for a day or two, they suffer none of the cravings,
irritability, and other withdrawal symptoms that torment addicted
It's unclear why this is; it may be that the way their brains are hardwired leaves them less susceptible to addiction.
all social smokers are chippers, but there is certainly some overlap
between the groups. Katherine has noticed that she has always had a
different relationship with cigarettes than some of her friends who
smoke more heavily.
"Even when I've had 10 cigarettes in a
night, I don't think I've ever thought, 'I better not do this because
I'll get addicted,' which drives real smokers crazy," she says. "Even
when I first tried cigarettes, in high school, I could see that for my
best friend smoking was a different thing than it was for me. Her
smoking kept increasing, and I just was never like that."
Addicted to smoking, not nicotine?
smokers may not be addicted to nicotine, but that doesn't necessarily
mean that they're not hooked on smoking -- whether it's the ritual
itself, the sensation of the smoke, or the nicotine high it provides.
folks take nicotine for its psychoactive effects, not to stave off
withdrawal," says Shiffman. "But that's not to say that they don't come
to need it in some other way."
Lacey, 23, a recent college grad
in Athens, Georgia, was a "real" smoker for four years; she traded daily
smoking for social smoking when she was 20. She didn't have any trouble
scaling back -- she smoked more out of boredom and habit than nicotine
addiction, she says -- but she has found her social smoking at bars
surprisingly hard to kick.
difficult," she says. "It's a really big habit, but I do think the
nicotine has something to do with it. When you're drinking, smoking a
cigarette is one of the best feelings in the world."
Copyright Health Magazine 2011