Saturday, January 2, 2010

Smoking Ban Begins In North Carolina

Greenville News article "Smoking Ban Begins In North Carolina" (January 1st, 2010) describes positive effects from a North Carolina smoking ban, but doesn't mention any reasons why bans may be harmful. One reason stands out in particular: smoking bans may have unintended negative consequences for passive smokers.

The management at Hannah Flanagan's Pub also seemed positive about the change. The pub has allowed smoking ever since it opened in 1993, but general manager Annie Hargus didn't anticipate any backlash from the new law.

"I actually think that it will have a really positive impact on our business from regaining customers who don't come in any more because of the smoke, and probably gaining new customers as well," she said.

In a forthcoming American Economic Journal: Applied Economics article "The Effect of Bans and Taxes on Passive Smoking", Jérôme Adda and Francesca Cornaglia show a curious effect on passive smoking from smoking bans in places of public recreation. Specifically, they give evidence that bans in recreational places increases the exposure of non-smokes and young children to second-hand smoke. Additionally, that smoking bans impact individuals lower down on the socioeconomic ladder in a more negative manner. Simply speaking, people smoke more at home when they can't smoke anywhere else. The findings are significant: the unintended consequences of indoor-smoking bans to passive smoking in children appear to be around half the effect winter has on children (people also smoke more at home when it's cold outside).

Though the consequences of banning smoking in restaurants are not as great, they should be considered, lest similar effects plague good intentions.

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