The visible hand in economics

An expensive habit

Posted on: March 13, 2008

We’ve talked in the past about how smokers would be better off if they could precommit to not smoking in the future. It seems that someone is trying to do just that by auctioning a contract on Trademe:

I’ve smoked cigarettes for twelve years and I’ve tried all the usual ways to quit smoking. Now that my wife Annabel and I are pregnant with our first child, it’s time to give up once and for all.

I’ve created a listing on the New Zealand online auction site, and on Monday 31 March, 2008, the highest bidder will receive a contract written by my lawyer, Chris Hoquard at Dominion Law, in which I hand over my right to smoke to them, and agree to pay them a forfeit of NZ$1000.00 per cigarette that I smoke at any time following the auction’s closure.

Stephen Dubner notes that there isn’t really any commitment because the contract is self-enforced, but at least the guy’s trying. Now all we need is an external agency to help people like him. An external agency with monitoring and enforcement powers. An agency with the power to fine people if they violate their desired level of smoking. Any ideas who that might be?


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