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July 9, 2013

A decade or more past, I began to argue that the various regulations on smoking had passed the point of protecting the health of non-smokers, or even their comfort in restaurants, and were instead becoming the wagging finger of the self-righteous. NPR interviews Ronald Bayer, professor at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, who recently published a paper pointing out the dangers to public health officials in jumping on a moralistic bandwagon.

A recent study finds fingers air pollution as the cause for lifespan difference — by over five years! — between neighboring regions of China. This natural experiment stemmed from:

…a seemingly arbitrary Mao-era economic policy on coal-fired boilers for winter heating created dramatic differences in air quality within China. North of the Huai River, the government provided free coal, while people to the south were essentially denied central heat.

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