Panel Paper: The Effects of Cigarette Taxes and Smoking Bans Birth Outcomes

Saturday, November 10, 2012 : 2:45 PM
International D (Sheraton Baltimore City Center Hotel)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Reagan Baughman and Jia Gao, University of New Hampshire

Prenatal smoking has well-documented adverse effects on reproductive health; it has been shown to increase the incidence of low birth weight, premature birth, and even infant mortality. In light of the health consequences of smoking, policymakers continue to develop new policies to discourage smoking; the most notable examples during the past decade are state and local-level clean air laws or smoking bans. To date, the effectiveness of smoking bans on maternal smoking behavior and infant health is still unclear. Using infant-level birth certificate data from the Natality Detail File between 1995 and 2004 that is matched to state-level cigarette taxes and smoking bans, we investigate the impacts of smoking bans and cigarette taxes on birth weight and length of gestation. Our current results show that cigarette taxes are associated with significant increases in birth weight and weeks of gestation in most specifications. Additionally the existence of smoking bans has a positive and significant effect on infant birth weight; most of this effect appears to be driven by bar bans. Bar bans are also significantly associated with longer gestation periods, particularly for the most premature births.  We are in the process of extending our data through 2009, a period that captures many more within-state changes in smoking ban policy, as well as adding county-level measures of smoking bans.  The revised paper will also include analyses of the effects of taxes and bans on infant mortality and preventable birth complications.