According to this report public smoking bans are responsible for decreasing heart problems associated with smoking. I want to know how they distinguish smoking bans with increasing general knowledge about smoking’s ill effects.
According to the report, the correlation is directed by this cause based on temporal information, but considering all the social changes (not all of which where government directed) where happening at the same time, how can they distinguish between them?
What we might have is Hume’s classic problem of cause and effect. Researchers and officials think that their policies are effecting outcomes just because those policies exist. Its a bit harder to control for these things, since we can’t make controlled experiments with large scale, unpredictable systems like the economy or human social behavior (which smoking could qualify as) .