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Smoking bans deter the initiation of smoking

I have posted many times on the value of smoking bans. These stop passive smoking externalities but also increase the user costs of smoking which encourages quitting. They also improve financial returns in businesses subject to the bans. They also provide libertarians with a no-brainer way of padding out their blogsites with attacks on ‘nanny-staters’ which is probably a socially safer activity than advocating legal gun ownership or the legalisation of herpoin for toddlers. This piece from NewScientist suggests they also deter teenagers from taking up the habit.

Restaurant smoking bans don’t just protect diners and staff from other people’s smoke, they help stop young people becoming habitual smokers.

‘In 2001, Michael Siegel* and colleagues at Boston University surveyed 3834 Massachusetts youths, with follow-ups two and four years later. In towns where restaurants had no smoking bans or kept smoking areas, 9.8% had smoked over 100 cigarettes in their lifetimes, compared with 7.9% in towns with smoking bans.

Once the researchers corrected for factors such as whether their parents smoked, those in towns with bans were 35% less likely to be habitual smokers (Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, vol 162, p 477).

Bans don’t make teenagers less likely to try cigarettes, but seem to stop them making it a habit, perhaps due to less contact with smokers or because smoking seems less socially acceptable.’

The full article by Siegel is available free at the link. BTW Michael Siegel has a very active and interesting blogsite here. Via it I came to this interesting report on tobacco control in Canada – one of those countries most successful in encouraging less smoking.

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