Would a Universal Smoking Ban in Georgia Reduce Drunk Driving Fatalities?

Smoking bans in individual cities and individual bars and restaurants are intended to save lives by reducing patrons’ exposure to second-hand smoke, but they may actually be causing more drunk driving fatalities, according to a report from ScienceDaily.

A study completed last year at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM) suggests that drunk driving fatalities increase following the enactment of smoking bans. The results of this study appeared in the June 2008 issue of the Journal of Public Economics as well as the May issue of The Economist.

Researchers hypothesize that smokers are willing to drive longer distances to establishments that allow smoking. Professor Scott Adams explains, “Like they would to buy fireworks, lotto tickets or, in some cases, alcohol, people will often go to a neighboring jurisdiction that doesn’t have a ban.”

With smokers driving across town or out of town to visit establishments where smoking is allowed, the chances of them having an auto accident increase. However, Adams believes that the positive health effects of smoking bans still outweigh the negative. A preliminary study suggests that smoking bans are associated with evidence of a reduction in heart disease.

Professor Adams says that the best solution would be a universal smoking ban in public establishments. This would eliminate the risk of smokers driving long distances to avoid individual bans.

“I view economics very much as a social science – the costs associated with people’s behavior,” said Adams, who specializes in health and labor economics. “Public economists are concerned with the externalities and whether what affects you also has an impact on others – without those costs being accounted for.”

In Georgia, smoking has been banned in restaurants but not in bars.

Would a universal smoking ban in Georgia reduce the number of drunk driving fatalities? What do you think? We’d love to hear your comments.

A universal smoking ban would certainly cut down on health problems and deaths caused by second-hand smoke.

When intoxicated drivers get behind the wheel, they put many people at risk of serious injury or death. In Georgia, bars and restaurants may also be held responsible for drunk driving accidents if they serve someone who is underage or visibly intoxicated.

At MLN Law, we aggressively pursue claims against drunk drivers. If you’ve been injured by a drunk driver, or if you’ve lost a loved one because of a drunk driver, we’ll explore all options for recovery. You may be able to sue the bar, restaurant, or liquor store that served the drunk driver. You may also be able to sue the drunk driver for punitive damages as well as negligence. Punitive damages exist as a way of punishing drunk drivers for their reckless behavior.

If you or a loved one has been the victim of an irresponsible drunk driver, contact us immediately. Prompt action must be taken to investigate the accident, preserve evidence, and evaluate damages and injuries.

Call MLN Law at (404) 531-9700 to schedule your free consultation. You can call 24 hours a day. If we’re not in the office, leave a message with your contact information. When it comes to drunk driving, we will do everything in our power to punish reckless behavior and make sure you get the compensation you deserve.