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Drunk driving after the passage of smoking bans in bars

  • Adams, Scott
  • Cotti, Chad

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. This result proves durable, as we subject it to an extensive battery of robustness checks.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Public Economics.

Volume (Year): 92 (2008)
Issue (Month): 5-6 (June)
Pages: 1288-1305

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Handle: RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:92:y:2008:i:5-6:p:1288-1305
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/505578

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