The Effect of Smoking on Mental Health: Evidence from a Randomized Trial
This paper aims to identify the causal effects of smoking on mental health using data from the Lung Health Study, a randomized trial of smoking cessation treatment with five years of follow-up interviews. In the short-run, distress increases, likely reflecting the effects of nicotine withdrawal. Long-run effects on mental health are small overall, but mask heterogeneity by gender. For women, the cessation program leads to improved mental health, driven by decreases in insomnia and nervousness. Men do not experience these improvements, due in part to a small increase in severe disturbances.
We are grateful for helpful comments from Julie Cullen, Gordon Dahl, and Dan Sacks. This Manuscript was prepared using Lung Health Study Research Materials obtained from the NHLBI Biologic Specimen and Data Repository Information Coordinating Center and does not necessarily reflect the opinions or views of the LHS or the NHLBI. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.