Toxic Choices: The Theory and Impact of Smoking Bans
Smoking bans in the workplace and public places are now ubiquitous. While indices of such controls are commonly included in econometric models, there exists little theory that validates or analyzes them. This paper first proposes a theoretical model of maximizing behaviour on the part of smokers which serves as a vehicle to evaluate bans. It is a type of nicotine inventory management model where smoking during one phase of the day impacts utility in other periods. It also includes an intensity choice as part of the optimization. Calibrated model simulations suggest that, with the exception of heavy smokers, workplace bans have relatively minor impacts on smokers throughout most of the distribution due to substitution possibilities. We estimate quantile regressions using Canadian survey data for 2003 and .find that workplace bans have a surprisingly small impact on the number of cigarettes smoked. However, restrictions on smoking in the home are found to be of an order of importance greater, even when instrumented. The policy conclusion is that the effectiveness of workplace bans depends heavily upon whether there exist complementary restrictions on smoking in environments to which individuals may wish to switch their smoking following a workplace ban.
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