Economic Note / November 2005
Many governments in North America and Europe, such as France have moved toward a ban on cigarette smoking in public places, or are planning to do so. Defenders of this approach argue that second-hand tobacco smoke causes health risks for non-smokers, who should be protected through a ban on smoking in public places. This leads to major economic considerations. An economic approach is needed for a full assessment of the relevance of such measures.
We will assume here that secondhand smoke is as dangerous as Mr. Yves Bur’s bill asserts and that it causes about 3000 deaths per year in France. We will examine the issue strictly from the economic standpoint of individual choice, leaving the biological and epidemiological aspects to medical experts.