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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review March 14, 2007 / 24 Adar, 5767

Economics and smoking

By Walter Williams


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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | The most fundamental principle of economics is the law of demand, which postulates that the higher the cost of a behavior, the less people will do of it, while the lower the cost, the more people will do of it. The law of demand applies to any behavior, and I'm going to apply it to anti-smoking behavior. First, let's get the health issue out of the way because it has no relevancy to the particular principle under examination, which is how people respond to the cost of something.


The cost to nonsmokers to impose their will on smokers, say, in a restaurant, bar or airplane, is zero, or close to it. They just have to get the legislature to do their bidding. When the cost of something is zero, there's a tendency for people to take too much of it. You say, "Williams, in my book, there can never be too much smoke-free air!" Here's a little test. Say your car's out of gas and stuck in a blizzard. You wave me down for assistance. I say, "I'll be glad to give you a lift to safety, but I'm smoking in my car." How likely is it that you'll turn down my assistance in an effort to avoid tobacco smoke? You might be tempted to argue, "That's different." It's not different at all. The cost of a smoke-free environment is not what you're willing to pay.


Say you don't permit smoking in your house. When I visit, I offer to pay you $100 for each cigarette you permit me to smoke. Instantaneously, I've raised the cost of your maintaining a smoke-free environment. Retaining smoke-free air in your home costs the sacrifice of $100. Of course, I could offer you higher amounts, and economic theory predicts that at some price, you'll conclude your 100 percent smoke-free air isn't worth it.


Air that's either 100 percent smoke-filled or 100 percent smoke-free is probably sub-optimal. At zero prices there will either be too much smoking or too little smoking. The problem in our society is that laws have created too much smoke-free air. To a large degree, it's the fault of smokers, who haven't created a cost to smoke-free air.


You say, "What do you mean, Williams?" Here's an example: A number of years ago, a congressman (who shall remain nameless) invited me to give a lecture to some staffers. I asked him if it was OK for me to smoke during my lecture, whereupon he told me about Congress' no-smoking rule. I told him that if I weren't allowed to smoke, I wouldn't give the lecture. The congressman promised he'd tell the guard that I could smoke, and I gave the lecture. There have been other occasions where I've attached a price to smoke-free air. I fully recognize that people and organizations have their rules, but I also have mine.


My rule is by no means absolute. There are instances where I put up with zero-priced smoke-free air, and there are other instances where I don't. It all depends on the cost to me. I think other smokers ought to adopt the same agenda. Say you're asked to do some volunteer work. You might answer, "Yes, if I'm allowed to smoke." This strategy might also be a nice way to get out of doing something without saying no. Just ask whether smoking is permitted.


The economic lesson to extract from all of this is that zero prices lead to sub-optimal outcomes, and it doesn't just apply to the smoking issue. How would you like zero prices at the supermarket or clothing store? If there were, what do you think you'd see on the shelves when you arrived? If you said, "Nothing, because people would take too much," go to the head of the class.

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© 2006, Creators Syndicate.

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