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Outline the argument for and against smoking ban

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Outline the main argument for and against creating a smoking ban in public areas. Is it good overall - justify your view Smoking is a de-merit good. This means that it is over-provided in a free market economy. The price mechanism has allocated too many resources than is socially desirable. Smoking is over consumed, as shown in the diagram below: The MSC (marginal social cost) and the MPC (marginal private cost) are not the same. They diverge. This is because society experiences a different cost from the good being consumed than the individual. The demand side is the same hence why MSB = MPB. The individual is happy when MPB = MPC, (10 a day). Therefore they consume where the red and green lines meet. Here their MPC = MSB so they are happy. Society is happy when MSB = MSC. So they want people to consume where the pink lines meets the green line. ...read more.


However the cost to the NHS for treating a cancer patient is much higher than that as surgery is at least that figure along with the added expense of other costs such as unemployment benefits if they are forced to give up their job. In this event, them losing a job, the economic costs will be two fold as they will no longer be contributing the the economy and will also be no longer paying taxes. The MSB is also lower than the MPB. People start smoking because they want to, everyone has the active choice to choose not to if they want. It can therefore be seen as detrimental to society if someone is smoking in public in an area where they are not wanted. To combat this problem, because despite warning of passive smoking risks when smoking in public, the government has had to ban smoking in public areas. This is because the individual has been unable to make the choice that benefits society, only the choice that benefits themselves. ...read more.


A ban of smoking in public areas would also have a negative effect on many other businesses. People who visit pubs frequently tend to be smokers also. This means that if there was a smoking ban, pubs would see less smokers and therefore fewer customers. This would mean that they would have to lay off any workers or even close down. Again this would reduce the taxable income of an economy and again put pressure on the government's budget. I conclude that there are positives and negatives on a smoking ban in public areas. However it is apparent that the positives outweigh the negatives. This is because there are more social costs associated with smoking than social benefits and despite various warnings people are not refraining from smoking in public areas. Another important consideration is that if there was a smoking ban, those who smoke recreationally are more inclined to give up as it will become an inconvenience for them to smoke. People who do not smoke already will also be discouraged from starting to smoke and those who are addicted have even more pressure on them to give up. ...read more.

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Response to the question

This essay engages well with the question, discussing the positives and negatives of the smoking ban. I would note that I think there's another interpretation of the question, where a discussion of whether a smoking ban is the best way ...

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Response to the question

This essay engages well with the question, discussing the positives and negatives of the smoking ban. I would note that I think there's another interpretation of the question, where a discussion of whether a smoking ban is the best way to correct market failure. However, that is irrelevant! I liked how this essay progresses from knowledge and understanding, to analysis, and then evaluation. A clear progression allows for a convincing and clear argument, always focused on the question.

Level of analysis

The analysis in this essay is strong. The introduction ably explains demerit goods, and why it is relevant to smoking. If I were doing this essay, I would've mentioned how price and quantity are determined by market forces, which do not take into account externalities. A buzzword for an essay like this is "market failure" so it was a bit of a shame that wasn't included. The diagram showing a demerit good is particularly good - the diagram is clear and large enough to see the difference between marginal social cost and marginal private cost. I would advise that you always show the equilibrium prices also, whereas this essay has only chosen to show the quantities. I don't use colours myself in economics, but it is clear to see that it helps strengthen the analysis. There is a good awareness of the argument that the NHS has limited resources, and this is simply made worse by smokers. A perceptive debate including social arguments will gain credit! When talking about the significance of the cigarette industry, I would always do a bit of research to see how many people it employs. It is a weak argument without numbers, as it seems a big assumption to just say it is large. Including research and up-to-date figures makes any argument stronger. My favourite economic concept when discussing the smoking ban is an unintended consequence. In hindsight, we can see the smoking ban led to an increase in outdoor heating, which in turn has increased carbon emissions - a market failure in itself. Such evaluation will gain high marks. I liked how the essay ended with a justified judgement, rather than sitting on the fence. Being able to draw on arguments and saying which is strongest is a skill examiners will look for!

Quality of writing

The essay has a good structure, having a clear introduction defining the key terms, and a concise conclusion offering a justified judgement. Having a clear structure allows for a focused argument, and this is evident in this essay. There is not one point where they don't focus on the task in hand, which will gain them credit. Spelling, punctuation and grammar are strong, and I liked the variety of technical terms used. Terms such as marginal cost, marginal benefit, etc will make your essay more convincing, and this essay uses them well!

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Reviewed by groat 29/02/2012

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