Policy Documents

The Case Against Smoking Bans

Thomas A. Lambert –
April 24, 2006

 

In recent months, numerous localities and states have banned smoking in public places (i.e., privately owned places to which members of the public are invited). Such sweeping bans are typically justified on grounds that they alleviate externalities, shape individuals' preferences in a desirable manner, and reduce risks. This essay rebuts the externality, preference-shaping, and risk-reduction arguments for smoking bans and contends that such bans are unnecessary and, on the whole, utility-reducing.