Monday, April 7, 2008

Smoking Bans Kill

As we note in our book, Henry Hazlitt, former editorial-page editor of The Wall Street Journal, reduced all of economics into a single lesson: "The art of economics consists in looking not merely at the immediate but at the longer effects of any act or policy; it consists of tracing the consequences of that policy not merely for one group but for all groups."

Here's some evidence of an interesting unintended consequence of smoking bans that are passing in many local areas across the country. The Capital Times of Madison, Wisconsin reports on a study authored by Scott Adams of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Economics Department and Chad Cotti of the University of South Carolina, which will be released in the Journal of Public Economics. According to the article,
[the study] found an increase of fatal accidents involving alcohol after communities prohibited smoking, compared to arrests in communities without a ban.

The authors attribute that to people driving to places without a ban, and also to driving farther to find a place within a ban area that has an outdoor smoking accommodation, such as a patio.

"The increased miles driven by drivers who wish to smoke and drink offsets any reduction in driving from smokers choosing to stay home after a ban, resulting in increased alcohol-related accidents," the study says.

1 comment:

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