Cash-constrained households prefer cell phone use over tobacco consumption..

October 9, 2008 - According to a new World Bank study, cell phone ownership could affect tobacco consumption because individuals might pay for their communication with money they would have spent on tobacco. Using panel data from 2,100 households in 135 communities in the Philippines collected in 2003 and 2006 -- just as cell phones were catching on -- researchers found that that the percentage of households owning a cell phone more than quadrupled.

Moreover: Cell phone ownership led to a 20 percent decline in monthly tobacco consumption; Among households in which at least one member smoked in 2003, purchasing a cell phone leads to a 32.6 percent decrease in tobacco consumption per adult over the age of 15; This is equivalent to one less pack of 20 cigarettes per month per adult.

The authors conclude that tobacco and cell phones have a special relationship: cash-constrained household have to make a trade-off between the two luxuries, and the social status once signaled by burning up your money on smokes can now be conferred by yapping away on a flashy new phone.

Paper: Labonne, Julien and Chase, Robert S.,So You Want to Quit Smoking: Have You Tried a Mobile Phone?(June 1, 2008). World Bank Policy Research Working Paper No. 4657 Abstract.

Another study showed smoking drives people deeper in poverty. The Philippines’ poorest households spend 2.5 percent of their money on tobacco use – higher than their expenditure for health (1.3 percent) and education (1.6 percent). The Philippine government earns around P90-billion (1,895,399,931.82USD) from the tobacco industry. But the public-health spending on smoking-related diseases reaches about P270-billion (5,686,199,795.45USD) annually. (Studies show smoking drives people deeper in poverty by Llanesca T. Panti, Reporter, The Manila Times, 10/8/2008.)

Reference: WANT TO QUIT SMOKING? TRY A CELL PHONE, Daily Policy Digest (Health Issues), 9/29/2008.

Click on image to enlarge..