Passive smoking and health care: Health perceptions myth vs. Health care reality

Michael J. Moore, Carolyn W. Zhu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Individuals exhibit systematic tendencies to overstate the risks of unlikely lethal events. If the risks of passive smoking are overstated in this manner, and if passive smoking is not harmful to adult health, then passive smoking by adults should have a discernible effect on subjective evaluations of health status, but no corresponding effect on health. This idea is examined empirically below using data from the National Health Interview Surveys. The empirical results can be summarized as follows. Passive smoking is associated with assessments of significantly poorer health. Poorer health assessments are associated with significantly greater medical resource use. However, direct estimates of the effects of passive smoking on health care use indicate no statistical association whatsoever. These results are consistent with a model whereby individuals systematically overestimate the effects of passive smoking on their health and where the short-term effects of passive smoking on adult health care costs are negligible.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)283-310
Number of pages28
JournalJournal of Risk and Uncertainty
Issue number2-3
StatePublished - Jan 1 2000


  • Government policy and risk perceptions
  • Health care
  • Passive smoking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Accounting
  • Finance
  • Economics and Econometrics


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