"Seattle Plastic Bag Ban Success Contagious" is the celebratory headline on a story about the city's bag prohibition law. Research out yesterday suggests this may be only too true. The academic paper reports that plastic bag bans make people physically ill. Whether the data will dissuade Washington State Senators Marylin Chase and Adam Kline from advocating their bag ban and bag tax bills remains to be seen.
Jonathan Klick from the University of Pennsylvania and Joshua Wright from George Mason University studied the results of bag bans in California, particularly the first ban, enacted in San Francisco in 2007. Earlier research had already found that cloth reusable bags--the kind most commonly used to replace plastic grocery bags--often harbor dangerous levels of E. coli and other bugs that, scientifically speaking, make you puke. Klick and Wright looked at emergency room admissions attributable to these bugs and also at death rates from intestinal diseases generally. The result: rates jumped when the bag ban took effect.
That is to say, it appears that plastic bag bans have the unintedned consequence of making a lot of people sick and more than a few people dead.