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Behavioral Economics in Tobacco Prevention

Behavioral Economics in Tobacco Prevention

By ETR | May 21, 2019

How do we make choices about our behaviors? How do we judge the potential risks and benefits of a decision to, for example, use tobacco products?

In 2002, psychologist Daniel Kahneman was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences for demonstrating that the answers to these questions are found through an integration of psychology and economics. His theory, behavioral economics, acknowledges that while a risks/benefits analysis can play a role in our choices, elements such as emotions, innate bias, personal framing and context are often much more influential.

Marketers of all kinds of products have put the principles of behavioral economics to work to improve sales. The tobacco industry is no exception, joining in enthusiastically with a range of strategies that appeal to emotions, framing and context.


Behavioral economics can also be used to develop strategies that support healthy, positive choices. In this video, ETR’s Xinran Cui Dhaliwal discusses some of the ways behavioral economic theory is being used in tobacco prevention. She outlines some of the work of the Tobacco Education Clearinghouse of California, a statewide technical assistance provider and a project of ETR.

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