Smokers will not only expose themselves to a higher risk of heart disease, lung cancer and a number of medical disorders, but also cause people around them to be at risk through secondhand smoke. As such, more and more countries have banned smoking in the public places.
Nevertheless, a side effect seems to emerge from the smoking ban in American bars: number of accidents from drunken driving has surged. A recent study, conducted by the researchers from the University of Wisconsin, reported their finding on April 2, 2008 in the Journal of Public Economics that on average, a nearly 12-per cent rise in the number of drink-related accidents on the road as a result of smoking ban.
The researchers analyzed the data collected from counties that enforced a ban during the period from 2000 to 2005, and from accident statistics before and after the ban was introduced.
The ban is spreading across the United States, but in a piecemeal fashion. According to the figures cited in the report, nearly one-third of the US population lives in cities, counties or states where there are restrictions on smoking.
According to the study, the smokers may not drink more than before but they certainly drive more to find places that allow both drinking and smoking. This is what that makes the risk of road accidence to increase. The researchers pointed out in their report that banning smoking in bars increases the fatal accident risk posed by drunk drivers.
Meanwhile, the study also indicated that the increase in drunk driving has to be weighed against 'potential positive health impacts' from smoking bans, and this may take years to determine.