Drunk driving after the passage of smoking bans in bars

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.


Sad…but believe me its a relief to be able to go into these places for me without being inundated with smoke. I think they will find that second hand smoke related diseases will go way down. And I think more people die of second hand smoke diseases rather than drunk driving. We need the technology in cars that prevent drunk drivers from driving…

A similar situation existed in northern Illinois back when Wisconsin allowed 18 year olds to drink. Folks under 21 in northern Illinois would commute to Wisconsin to drink and many would drive home drunk, resulting in accidents. The solution was for Wisconsin to raise its drinking age (but they fought it tooth and nail).

It would seem the logical solution is for localities which still allow smoking and drinking to also ban smoking. Barring that, Stbruno’s idea also sounds good.

I have a concept, though it seems un-American. Why not let bar owners decide for themselves and let market forces determine how many are smoking and non-smoking? A little freedom injected into the system would solve the problem. People can always vote with their pocket books.

How very “un-American” of you. What? Let the people decide for themselves how to run their own businesses? Where do you think we live, “the land of the free?”:wink:

Haven’t we already tried that? Smokers have had their ways within in the business world for a long time. They could light up where they wanted without a care for the person next to them. Drinking effects only you (unless you get behind the wheel). Smoking on the other hand effects all people in the surrounding area whether you smoke or not. The perefences of a few shouldn’t out weight the health of many.

Believe me Houston just got it smoking ban within the last year or so. Its been the best thing ever. My friends and i had stopped going out. We liked to dance and have fun but we didn’t like smelling like smoke when we got home nor did i like the feeling in my throat from the smoke. Now that the ban is in effect we go out more and do the things we enjoy.

I guess I will always be on the side of freedom and less government restriction thereof. After all, it’s the owner’s money that is being staked, not the government’s.


I know it’s getting off topic of drinking and cigarette smoking…but the Chicago tribune just featured an article about the #1 ranking of cigarette filters as nonbiodegradable litter. The beaches in Chicago just banned smoking there, but it continues despite ordinances. More than likely, some bar owners may be ignoring it too. I hope not.

So does that mean you don’t want “the government” restricting the “freedom” to drink and drive either? After all, people must be allowed to feel free even if it harms others. Let those pesky child molestors alone because they must feel free to express their perversities without the government telling them it harms innocent children. It is a slipperly slope to tout freedom above all else. There must be some regard for the common good or else society fails.

We have a representative form of government so that our beliefs on where to draw the line are heard. However, to live with individual “freedom” as the number one rule would result in chaos.

Absolutely not. That is something that endangers all on a public road way. At a bar or a restraunt, one can always go elsewhere or eat in. On could also choose to open a smoke free restraunt. I understand the difference between freedom and liscence, if that is what you are getting out. Your analogies have little in common with the issue.

I agree. If a bar owner wants to allow smoking, He/she should be allowed to do so. About a couple of blocks away - a bar and grill recently barred smoking - and noticed their business improved. People will decide for themselves whether or not they want to go someplace that allows smoking.

My wife has a bad reaction if we are in an establishment for too long that allows smoking. We usually go someplace else.

That’s my only point. Our big brother government doesn’t have a very good track record of act in our practical best interest, as the OP shows.

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