Editorial: A welcome unintended consequence

The primary motivation behind the ban on smoking, which was introduced in July 2007, was the desire to protect bar staff and the like from the pernicious effects of their customers' carcinogenic habits. Only legislative naysayers considered the effect on the nation's children, and only then to warn that parents unable to smoke elsewhere would puff away more heartily than ever at home.

They could hardly have been more wrong, it turns out. Indeed, the number of children admitted to hospital with severe asthma plummeted in the year after the ban was introduced, according to researchers at London's Imperial College. Even hardened nicotine addicts, it seems, saw the benefits of a smoke-free environment – and brought in a prohibition of their own at home. Many changes in the law have unintended consequences; few prove so beneficial or are so welcome.

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