Smoking Bans Can Be Hazardous to Your Health?
From "Economics: Public and Private Choice" by Gwartney, Stoup, Sobel and Macpherson:
Guidepost #6 to Economic Thinking: "Economic actions generate secondary effects in addition to immediate effects."
Pitfall #2 to Avoid in Economic Thinking: "Good intentions do not guarantee desirable outcomes."
Boston Globe article: "Smoking Bans Can Be Hazardous to Some People's Health:"
A rigorous statistical examination has found that smoking bans increase drunken-driving fatalities. One might expect that a ban on smoking in bars would deter some people from showing up, thereby reducing the number of people driving home drunk. But jurisdictions with smoking bans often border jurisdictions without bans, and some bars may skirt the ban, so that smokers can bypass the ban with extra driving. There is also a large overlap between the smoker and alcoholic populations, which would exacerbate the danger from extra driving. The authors estimate that smoking bans increase fatal drunken-driving accidents by about 13%, or about 2.5 such accidents per year for a typical county. Assuming a smoking ban is still worth it, the results suggest the need for a more aggressive approach to drunken driving - or a nationwide smoking ban.
Adams, S. and Cotti, C., "Drunk driving after the passage of smoking bans in bars," Journal of Public Economics (forthcoming).
Article Abstract: Using geographic variation in local and state smoke-free bar laws in the US, we observe an increase in fatal accidents involving alcohol following bans on smoking in bars that is not observed in places without bans. Although an increased accident risk might seem surprising at first, two strands of literature on consumer behavior suggest potential explanations — smokers driving longer distances to a bordering jurisdiction that allows smoking in bars and smokers driving longer distances within their jurisdiction to bars that still allow smoking, perhaps through non-compliance or outdoor seating. We find evidence consistent with both explanations. The increased miles driven by drivers wishing to smoke and drink offsets any reduction in driving from smokers choosing to stay home following a ban, resulting in increased alcohol-related accidents.