Do Smoking Bans Cause an Increase in Drunk Driving?
South Carolina is one of the last remaining havens for smokers, of cigarettes, that is. More than two thirds of states have statewide bans on tobacco smoking in bars, restaurants, and other public places, but South Carolina does not. South Carolina’s Clean Air Act of 1990 prohibits smoking in restaurants except in designated smoking areas, but it does not outright forbid restaurants to allow smoking. Some cities have local ordinances requiring restaurants or bars to be completely smoke-free or only to allow smoking in outdoor seating areas, and, of course, the restaurants and bars are free to set their own rules about where, if at all, to allow smoking. While tobacco smoke has plenty of well-documented ill effects on the health of people who are in contact with it for prolonged periods of time, it does not affect a person’s ability to drive or increase the driver’s risk of causing a car accident. Driving immediately after smoking a cigarette is no more dangerous than, for example, driving immediately after eating an ice cream cone. Meanwhile, a recent scientific article explores the possible relationship between smoking bans and drunk drivers. If you were injured in a drunk driving accident, contact a South Carolina car accident lawyer, regardless of whether the bar where the driver got drunk permitted cigarette smoking.
What Do Tobacco Smoking Laws Have to Do with Drunk Driving Statistics?
Jerusalem Demsas of Vox describes a thought-provoking research article by Anne Burton, who is pursuing a Ph.D. in economics at Cornell University, as well as the response to the article. The article discusses the possible relationship between laws about smoking in bars and restaurants, on the one hand, and alcohol-related car accidents, on the other. Some jurisdictions saw an increase in DUI crashes after they instituted bans on tobacco smoking in bars and restaurants; there was an average increase of 4 percent in DUI fatality accidents after the establishment of smoking bans. It may be because people who wished to smoke and binge drink at bars would drive greater distances in order to do so, instead of drinking at smoke-free bars that were a shorter drive from home.
Even with its generally lenient laws about smoking in bars, South Carolina witnesses a disproportionate share of drunk driving. It ranks third, behind Montana and Wyoming, for the per capita rate of drunk driving accidents. Although many young people might take DUI laws for granted, laws that ban drunk driving have greatly reduced the number of traffic fatalities and injury accidents in South Carolina and elsewhere. The risk of getting injured by a drunk driver in South Carolina remains, though, and if you have been injured, a car accident lawyer can help you recover damages for your financial losses.
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