There’s nothing more frustrating than being a subject of government. And the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) just proved that much by targeting both smokers and those who are trying to quit.
For active smokers, the FDA stands as an added burden by regulating every aspect of the cigarette business such as its manufacture, packaging, import, advertising, and sale. Because meddling artificially restricts the market and empowers monopolies, the cost of cigarette products ends the up increasing.
But if you are a smoker who’s trying to quit by using alternatives such as e-cigarettes, the FDA will not let you off easy either. Recently, the agency announced it wants to increase regulation of these products, all in the name of protecting kids. Unfortunately, proposed regulations would actually hurt the adult consumer instead of simply shielding teens.
Don’t believe me? Here’s what FDA Commissioner Scott Goettlieb said:
“[Some say] in order to protect kids, [the FDA] is going to encumber adult smokers by putting in place restrictions that make these products less attractive, or harder to purchase by adults. These things may all be true.”
Despite this recognition that regulations restrict access to adult users who are hoping to quit smoking, Goettlieb had nothing to say about the poor adult consumer trying to quit, and how additional regulations would make his life even more difficult.
An average cigarette smoker spends just short of $2,000 a year on cigarettes. And when it comes to American smokers, people considered to be poor, meaning they live below the U.S. poverty line, are two times more likely to smoke. The same goes for adults with less than a high school education, as they are 2.5 times as likely to smoke as adults with a college degree.
So when these smokers decide to quit, more often than not going for e-cigarettes, additional regulations would restrict their access to the product, both because of the added cost and because of the lack of competitive products available in the market.
Since poor smokers are the ones who have a harder time quitting smoking, e-cigarettes have, for the most part, provided an affordable alternative that is also healthier. With people in the low-income brackets also reporting having a harder time accessing health care, this is essential for those who are concerned about the long-term exposure to cigarettes.
Safety Isn’t Government’s Goal
While the FDA claims its goal is to protect consumers, the reality is that government’s health-related policies and regulations have often backfired. Targeting e-cigarettes is just another example of government officials claiming to put consumers first while creating circumstances that will actually hurt them.
As Austrian economist Murray Rothbard once explained, “conflicts and bitterness are inherent in government operation.”
When you look at the regulatory state and the entrepreneurial state you see that, unfortunately, men in government are always trying “to extend political power in order to seize the fruits” of the entrepreneur’s conquest. As such, whether it’s e-cigarettes, cars, shoes, or children’s toys, the government will always be there, ready to restrict the market by regulating the industry until it’s nearly impossible for entrepreneurs to compete. Who loses? The consumer, of course.