Fox News has an intriguing story about a national study by Wisconsin researchers showing that alcohol-related accidents increased in communities that banned public smoking. I’m not sure I buy it, but it’s good discussion fodder:
MADISON – Enacting city smoking bans appears to increase drunken driving, according to a new national study of arrests by Wisconsin researchers.
Fatal accidents involving alcohol increased after communities banned public smoking, the study to be released by the Journal of Public Economics found. The authors attributed the increase to people driving farther to drink, either to a place with an outdoor smoking area or a city without a ban.
“The increased miles driven by drivers who wish to smoke and drink offsets any reduction in driving from smokers choosing to stay home after a ban, resulting in increased alcohol-related accidents,” the study says.
The researchers, Scott Adams, of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and Chad Cotti, now at the University of South Carolina, said they were surprised by the results.
“We thought we would see a reduction,” Adams said. “Our first thought was, ‘Throw it away, it must be wrong.'”
So what’s the solution?
A well-enforced national smoking ban would get rid of the drunken driving increases because people would have no reason to travel to drink, he said.
In Iowa, drunk smokers will be driving to casinos, thanks the the “compromise” smoking ban that could be voted on in the House later today. But hey, the state needs the revenues.