Health Legislation: a carbon emitter?

As speculated by some over the weekend, and confirmed today by the Economist, Copenhagen currently appears to be nothing more than a venue for which policy makers will agree to consider a future agreement on Carbon Emissions.

Undoubtedly there exist links between the U.S.’ relaxed approach to the summit and the Obama administrations efforts to pass universal healthcare; for the latter to pass the support of those contributing to the former is required. This is nothing new. What is interesting to note, however, is that such an attitude to favor health over emissions has been indirectly present within the U.S. for some time.

Earlier this year Boston became the second city (following San Francisco) to pass legislation banning the sale of cigarettes in ‘drug’ stores.  Within this legislation there exists a further directive restricting the sale of cigarettes on college campuses. This is where things become interesting. Consider a representative smoker. The impact upon this agent from said legislation results in further effort (i.e.; distance traveled) to obtain cigarettes. As such, the ‘carbon footprint’ of each cigarette has increased within the city of Boston; not too mention the shadow price of the cigarettes themselves.

The question is now posed; are carbon emissions an indirect consequence of health legislation?

  • ben

    I’m not sure the cigarette/carbon emissions question is all that interesting. What doesn’t affect the environment in some way?

  • garethw

    “are carbon emissions an indirect consequence of health legislation?”
    That presumes carbon intensity is an efficiency consideration of current placement of drug stores – I doubt that.

    The interesting question is do geographic planning regulations that restrict demand-driven efficiency drive carbon emissions up? One day I suppose they could when transport decisions are exposed to the cost of emission involved and business placement decisions reflect that cost to their consumer, but I don’t know we’re there yet (or ever under the proposed ETS)!