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Domestic Health Policy

Smoking Ban Benefits Questioned

Smoking Ban Benefits Questioned.

By Vivian Ho, Joseph S. Ross, Claudia A. Steiner, Aditya Mandawat, Marah Short, Meei-Hsiang Ku-Goto and Harlan M. Krumholz

Previous studies of tobacco policies aimed at reducing hospitalizations may have overestimated the benefits of bans on public smoking and underestimated the benefits of cigarette taxes, according to new research by the Baker Institute, Baylor College of Medicine, Yale University, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

“Public-place smoking bans play a critical role in improving public health, and we are not arguing that smoking bans be lifted in restaurants, bars and workplaces,” said research co-author Vivian Ho, the chair in health economics at the Baker Institute and director of the institute’s Center for Health and Biosciences. “However, policy makers and public health workers must be realistic in understanding the benefits of alternative policy interventions like taxes and bans. We found that raising cigarette taxes can have an immediate beneficial effect in terms of reducing costly hospitalizations. As for smoking bans, while these may eventually lower hospitalizations, our research found no immediate benefit in terms of reduced hospitalizations.”

Read "A Nationwide Assessment of the Association of Smoking Bans and Cigarette Taxes With Hospitalizations for Acute Myocardial Infarction, Heart Failure, and Pneumonia" in the September 2016 edition of Medical Care Research and Review.