Smoking and It’s Negative Externalities

Ellen Martin – Honorbound

Studies show that 12% less children have been admitted to a hospital after the first year since the ban on smoking in public places was implemented. This proves how smoking is a major externality in the world. An externality is when the production or consumption on a product affects someone else. [1] Someone may be smoking in a public area or in their car and they might not know, but it affects everyone around them. Others can and will breathe in the smoke from them smoking. Smoking has a major negative externality because it not only pollutes the world; it causes other people to have the long term effects as well.

Smoking is the cause of a lot of diseases that can be easily prevented. Also the World Health Organization has estimated the loss of the US $500 billion in economic damage per year.[2] This is an externality because the people who are purchasing the cigarettes and the tobacco are not aware about the economic debt that they are causing the US each year. This can all be prevented if smoking was illegal and if people were aware of the negative externalities that smoking causes. Charles Wheelan states in the book Naked Economics: Undressing the Dismal Science that “all fifty states filed suit against the tobacco industry (and subsequently accepted large settlements) on the grounds that smokers generate extra health care costs that must be borne by state governments.” [3] Another externality is how everyone’s taxes goes to taking care of all of the smokers and their health care. It is not fair to the people who do not smoke to pay for the people who decide to make that decision to get all those health problems by smoking. People who work hard for their money should not have to provide for the people who decide to make the bad decision to smoke and ruin their health. “It’s precisely to reduce or eliminate negative externalities that many laws and regulations exist.” [4] The government has tried to implement laws regulations regarding smoking. For example in most public places like restaurants, smoking is not allowed. However, people can still smoke and it is affecting everyone around them and it is causing a major negative externality.

Smoking has been causing a negative externality for a really long time. If someone is smoking in their car with their windows rolled down then other people who are driving near them with their windows rolled down can smell and inhale the smoke. This is bad because it is causing a negative externality on people everywhere. People are getting sick from this and they are not the ones who are smoking. Therefore people who are smoking should be considerate of other people and smoke in their own private homes or places.


[1] Sophia H Economics. “Negative Externalities of smoking.” February 6, 2013. Accessed March 27, 2017.

[2] Tobacco Use Insights. “The Economic Impact of Smoking and of Reducing Smoking Prevalence: Review of Evidence.” July 14, 2015. Accessed March 27, 2017.

[3] Charles Wheelan, Naked Economics: Undressing the Dismal Science (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2010), 59.

[4] Daily News. “It’s Time: Snuff out Public Smoking.” September 29, 2013. Accessed March 27, 2017.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s