by Carl V Phillips
I hate to be pessimistic. CASAA has done a truly amazing job fighting back cigarette-like taxes, smoking-like usage restrictions, and various administrative hurdles for e-cigarettes — to say nothing of out-and-out bans, in the USA (and not that is not self-praise: I participate in those efforts some, but it is really other people’s department). Stopping proposed full-on sales bans seems to have been a victory that will stick, but all of the others are only as good as the latest fight. Like so many bad policies, they keep getting proposed until they happen, at which point they are very difficult to reverse. Outside the USA, of course, the situation is on average worse, with bans in many jurisdictions (though relatively few punitive taxes — authorities have realized how hard they are to administer).
The problem is the extremely slippery slope from established restrictions and punitive taxes for cigarettes to similar regulations applied to low-risk alternatives. We have already seen it with punitive taxes applied to smokeless tobacco even though the justifications for such taxes for cigarettes (which are already themselves based on lies) do not extend to low-risk and zero-externality alternatives. Never mind that free societies adopted the restrictions on smoking only very reluctantly and slowly, recognizing the tension between freedom and the justifications for the restrictions (even among most who favor them). It should be a very tough decision, made reluctantly and only based on very good reasons, not a casual move. I have brought up this theme in my recent testimony. Continue reading