Public Health

Does smoking make you dumb?

Perhaps the answer is ‘yes’. A paper by Gao et al. (2020) attempts to answer that question.

We identify a positive causal effect of healthy working environments on corporate innovation, using the staggered passage of U.S. state-level laws that ban smoking in workplaces. We find a significant increase in patents and patent citations for firms headquartered in states that have adopted such laws relative to firms headquartered in states without such laws. The increase is more pronounced for firms in states with stronger enforcement of such laws and in states with weaker preexisting tobacco controls. We present suggestive evidence that smoke-free laws affect innovation by improving inventor health and productivity and by attracting more productive inventors.

Also of interest, is legalizing marijuana likely to increase or decrease consumption of cigarettes? In other words, is marijuana and nicotine substitutes are complements. It turns out the answer is ‘complements’ according to Bhave and Murphy (2020):

We use multiple methods – difference-in-difference (DID) model as well as synthetic control methodology – to show that marijuana and cigarettes are complements and legalizing recreational marijuana is associated with an increase in cigarette consumption by about 4-7%. We check the robustness of our results using different dependent variables, placebo dates of intervention in the DID model, and placebo counties in the synthetic control method. In addition, we control for tobacco industry’s response to legalization such as price changes in cigarettes, and effects of increase in tourism due to legalization. Overall, we show that legalization of marijuana for recreational use may have significant spillover to increase in tobacco use that could lead to increased health care costs in future. 

Hat tip to Kevin Lewis.

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