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How Do Workplace Smoking Laws Work? Quasi-Experimental Evidence from Local Laws in Ontario, Canada

  • Christopher Carpenter

There are very large literatures in public health and economics on the effects of workplace smoking bans, with most studies relying on cross-sectional variation. We provide new quasi-experimental evidence on the effects of workplace bans by using the differential timing of adoption of over 100 very strong local smoking by-laws in Ontario, Canada over the period 1997-2004. We employ restricted-use repeated cross section geocoded outcome data to estimate reduced form models that control for demographic characteristics, year fixed effects, and county fixed effects. We first show that the effects of the local laws on actual worksite smoking policy (i.e. the "first stage") were not uniform; specifically, local laws were only effective at increasing ban presence among blue collar workers. Among blue collar workers, adoption of a local by-law significantly reduced the fraction of worksites without any smoking restrictions (i.e. where smoking is allowed anywhere at work) by over half. The differential effect of local policies also improved health outcomes: we find that adoption of a local by-law significantly reduced SHS exposure among blue collar workers by 25-30 percent, and we confirm that workplace smoking laws reduce smoking. We find plausibly smaller and insignificant estimates for white collar and sales/service workers -- the vast majority of whom worked in workplaces with privately initiated smoking bans well before local by-laws were adopted. Overall our findings advance the literature by confirming that workplace smoking bans reduce smoking, documenting the underlying mechanisms through which local smoking by-laws improve health outcomes, and showing that the effects of these laws are strongly heterogeneous with respect to occupation.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w13133.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 13133.

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Date of creation: May 2007
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Publication status: published as Christopher S. Carpenter, 2009. "The Effects of Local Workplace Smoking Laws on Smoking Restrictions and Exposure to Smoke at Work," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 44(4).
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:13133
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  1. Frank J. Chaloupka & Henry Saffer, 1992. "Clean Indoor Air Laws And The Demand For Cigarettes," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 10(2), pages 72-83, 04.
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  3. Matthew C. Farrelly & William N. Evans & Edward Montgomery, 1999. "Do Workplace Smoking Bans Reduce Smoking?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(4), pages 728-747, September.
  4. Marianne Bertrand & Esther Duflo & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2004. "How Much Should We Trust Differences-in-Differences Estimates?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 119(1), pages 249-275, February.
  5. Leora Friedberg, 1998. "Did Unilateral Divorce Raise Divorce Rates? Evidence from Panel Data," NBER Working Papers 6398, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. John A. Tauras, 2006. "Smoke-Free Air Laws, Cigarette Prices, and Adult Cigarette Demand," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 44(2), pages 333-342, April.
  7. Gabriel A. Picone & Frank Sloan & Justin G. Trogdon, 2004. "The effect of the tobacco settlement and smoking bans on alcohol consumption," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 13(10), pages 1063-1080.
  8. Ayda A. Yurekli & Ping Zhang, 2000. "The impact of clean indoor-air laws and cigarette smuggling on demand for cigarettes: an empirical model," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 9(2), pages 159-170.
  9. Wasserman, Jeffrey & Manning, Willard G. & Newhouse, Joseph P. & Winkler, John D., 1991. "The effects of excise taxes and regulations on cigarette smoking," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 10(1), pages 43-64, May.
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