Our research examines the effects of tobacco policies on teenagers’ physical activity. Smoking and physical activity are both strategies for weight management, and exercise may be a way to reduce some of the ill effects of smoking. These different links suggest that cigarette taxes could either increase or decrease physical activity. We explore this relationship using repeated cross-sectional 1991-2017 data from the national and state Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS), combined with state-level policies and controls. Our smoking participation results confirm past work; cigarette taxes have a negative effect on smoking that has waned in recent years. The estimated effects of cigarette taxes on physical activity echo those of smoking; cigarette taxes decrease physical activity and, like smoking, these effects have waned recently. However, one likely avenue – sports participation – is unaffected. These results suggest that increased cigarette taxes lead to modest declines in teen physical activity, a finding consistent with youth using exercise to compensate for the health effects of smoking.
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