Impact of Smoking Bans on Infant and Child Health
This study addresses this critical gap in the literature and provides key estimates of how 100% smoke-free regulations impact the venue of smoking and how they impact the health of children and infants. We match comprehensive information on all local and state-level 100% smoke-free legislation by type (workplace, restaurant, and freestanding bar) to parent and child records from the National Health Interview Surveys (NHIS) and birth records from the U.S. Natality Files (NF). Exploiting the panel structure of the data, fixed effects estimates suggest that smoking bans have improved both infant and children’s health, though most of these effects are realized from more comprehensive bans. Limited bans are not found to be effective. Decomposing this improvement in infant health, we find that the effects are being realized from a decrease in prenatal smoking (among pregnant women who smoked) as well as a decrease in ETS exposure (among non-smoking expectant mothers). We further assess whether this improvement in health is being moderated by a shift in smoking from the banned venues to inside the home, using the NHIS. We find no evidence of such compensatory behaviors among smokers (both smokers with and without children in the household), and actually find that the bans had a positive spillover effect in terms of reducing smoking inside the home – an effect which may further explain the improvement in infant and children’s health. We propose an explanation for this positive spillover effect. Overall, the estimates from the proposed research address the missing link in the literature and provide valuable inputs towards a comprehensive evaluation of state and local restrictions on smoking in various venues.