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The Economic Losers from Smoking Bans

June 29, 2010

In this essay, written by California Polytechnic State University professor of economics Michael Marlow, the economic effects of statewide smoking bans in bars and restaurants are examined, in an attempt to determine who loses when a state passes such a

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In this essay, written by California Polytechnic State University professor of economics Michael Marlow, the economic effects of statewide smoking bans in bars and restaurants are examined, in an attempt to determine who loses when a state passes such a ban.

“Bars probably suffer more harm from bans than restaurants because bars provide a more social atmosphere where customers enjoy mingling with one another,” Marlow writes. “Most bars are also too small to profitably offer smoking/nonsmoking choices for billiards, darts, or dancing. Research showing that restaurant owners offer substantially more nonsmoking seating than bars is consistent with this hypothesis.”

Marlow concludes, writing “previous studies underestimated harm to the degree that continued noncompliance indicates higher losses from greater enforcement. Public health authorities rarely publicly complain about noncompliance, since drawing attention to these owners is inconsistent with claims that bans do not cause economic harm.”

Author
Michael L. Marlow is professor of economics at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo.
mmarlow@calpoly.edu