The sun has set on the Golden Era of Tobacco, much like the bygone Golden Era of Hollywood. Perhaps once movie stars stopped smoking cigarettes on the Silver Screen, audiences found the activity less glamorous. Or perhaps the dramatic decline in smoking rates was a more rational response by consumers and celebrities alike to new information about the dangers of tobacco products.
However, the regulators at the FDA are not content with people’s free and informed choices. They have moved to ban menthol-flavored cigarettes, along with many flavored “vape” cartridges, in the name of public health and (of course) protecting the children.
Guy Bentley, Director of Consumer Freedom Research at the Reason Foundation, has been the “Voice of Reason” in multiple respects on this issue, calmly and rationally pointing out the facts that regulators have ignored, such as…
- E-cigarettes have helped countless adults quit smoking.
- Vaping is far less dangerous than traditional cigarette smoking.
- Menthol bans will disproportionately affect African Americans.
And last, but not least, the continuation of failed prohibition policies — this time applied to cigarettes instead of alcohol or drugs — creates yet more victimless crimes and empowers law enforcement to abuse their power in new and creative ways.
Remember the cautionary tale of Eric Garner, detained and ultimately suffocated to death by a policeman for selling “loosies” outside a corner store? Bentley reminds us of this, and other flaws with the seemingly “liberal” policy of protecting people from themselves.
Guy joined me to review the evidence on relative harms to adults and children of various nicotine and tobacco products, and put the proposed FDA rule in its proper historical and modern context.
Guy Bentley, Author at Reason Foundation
Guy Bentley is the director of consumer freedom at Reason Foundation. Bentley's research focuses on the taxation and regulation of nicotine, tobacco, alcohol, and food. Before joining Reason Foundation, Bentley served as a reporter in London and Washington D.C.
Welcome to the Nicotine Prohibition Era
In July 2014, five New York City police officers approached Eric Garner on a Staten Island sidewalk and accused him of illegally selling "loosies"-individual cigarettes without a tax stamp. Garner resisted handcuffs, and a scuffle ensued. Officer Daniel Pantaleo placed Garner in a prohibited chokehold while pushing him down to the ground face-first.
Anti-Tobacco Scientists Warn Benefits of E-Cigarettes Are Being Lost
The potential of electronic cigarettes to save millions of lives is being lost because of the media, public health groups, and politicians' near singular focus on youth vaping to the detriment of adult smokers. That's according to a new paper written by 15 past presidents of the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco (SRNT).
A ban on menthol cigarettes would hurt communities of color and undermine criminal justice reforms - Reason Foundation
Credit: Ringo Chiu/ZUMA Press/Newscom In the coming weeks, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is expected to publish a rule that would ban menthol cigarettes. This regulation would arrive amidst widespread fear that menthol prohibition will replicate many of the mistakes made in the government's failed wars on drugs and alcohol.