The FDA’s Assault on Tobacco Consumers

This is a multi-part series by Sheldon Richman.

If your attitude is, “well, I don’t smoke so it does not concern me”, or, “smoking and tobacco are bad so I support this effort”, these articles are for you.

Part 1:

For the last 10 years the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has been writing draconian rules governing the makers, sellers, and ultimately consumers of cigars, smokeless tobacco, pipe tobacco, and even the pipes themselves (which of course are not made from tobacco) in what appears to be part of an effort aimed indirectly at eradicating these products from the marketplace. The fanatical campaign, reminiscent of America’s earlier crusade to prohibit alcoholic beverages, ought to concern everyone, including nonsmokers, because if it succeeds, other products could well be targeted on the grounds of public health. It is not just tobacco users who need to worry about the regulatory state’s tactics. . . .

As Thomas Szasz showed throughout his career as the top critic of what he dubbed the “therapeutic state,” this assault is moral, cultural, and political, not scientific or medical.

 

Part 2:

A bill introduced in the U.S. House last month would ban the flavoring of any “tobacco product.” The targets are vaping devices (vapes, e-cigarettes), but also cigars and pipe tobacco. (Flavored conventional cigarettes, other than menthol, have already been banned.) The Food and Drug Administration deems vaping devices “tobacco products” even though they contain no tobacco. Introduced without sponsors by Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), the bill would allow an exception for some vaping products, but it is one that would be all but impossible to qualify for.

The rationalization for the prohibition is that flavoring attracts underage consumers to the products. Yet this seems implausible because it suggests that without flavoring teenagers would be uninterested in e-cigarettes (not to mention conventional cigarettes). Yet kids have long been attracted to conventional unflavored cigarettes. (And unflavored marijuana has no troubling winning favor among the young.)

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“Deregulation”. Coded Language for What?

Says Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA):

Deregulation is code for ‘let the rich guys do whatever they want’ … The Trump administration and an army of lobbyists are determined to rig the game in their favor, to boost their own profit, the cost of the consumer be damned.

But deregulation opens markets to competition because existing regulations protect existing businesses from competition. And competition brings more choices with many price points.

Hemp was deregulated in December, 2018 as part of the Farm Bill. It was removed from the list of controlled substances. Existing businesses operated in regulated markets, illegally — so strict were the regulations that the product was banned.

Now,

Hemp’s return to farm fields this spring coincides with a surge in demand for cannabidiol, a derivative of hemp or marijuana that has become a popular additive in drinks, foods and dietary supplements. Proponents say it relieves anxiety, inflammation and other maladies without the psychotropic ingredient that delivers a high to marijuana users.

Farmers and processors believe growing demand for cannabidiol will turn hemp into a lucrative cash crop.

… Hemp flourishes in rocky soils inhospitable to other crops. It also represents a new potential revenue stream for tobacco farmers abandoning that crop. Other growers are eager to diversify away from mainstream crops after several years of low prices spurred by a production glut and trade tensions.

… Growers can earn $200 to $400 an acre growing hemp for use in textiles, plastics, insulation and construction materials, according to Rodale Institute, a farming research agency. Hemp grown for cannabidiol could earn farmers thousands of dollars an acre, according to the institute. Farmers earned net profits of around $11 per acre for soybeans and lost $62 for corn in 2017, federal figures show.

… Processors in the U.S. also are expanding. Folium Biosciences is building a $30 million, 110,000-square-foot hemp extraction facility in Colorado to increase its capacity 10-fold, said Chief Executive Kashif Shan.

 

Chris Edwards:

Hemp regulations were bad for the economy, they did restrict freedom, and they made life harder for farm businesses. So Warren’s logic would only make sense to someone smoking a big, greasy cigarette of hemp’s sister species.

 

Better, Faster, Cheaper

Ronald Bailey, conclusion: 

One very crude way to measure just how much improved technology has increased consumer well-being would be to consider the discount en masse. To purchase a refrigerator, a color TV, a record player, an air conditioner, a microwave, and a calculator roughly five decades ago, the average family would have had to spend $12,155 in today’s dollars. Buying similar (though vastly improved) products today would cost just $1,404. That’s a reduction in real prices of more than 88 percent. And of course, virtually every household now has at least one cellphone and/or computer—two categories of products that could not have been acquired for any amount of money in 1968.

Amazing progress.

The ‘discount en masse’ includes a refrigerator, television, air-conditioner, microwave, and consumer calculator. And, as Ronald wrote, that list does not include cellphones or computers.

Note the improvements in quality, choice, and concomitant decreases in prices. Products that are in competitive, global markets, and lightly regulated. We don’t even know if the industries are subsidized.

Again, amazing progress.

The laggards, not noted in this article, are those with heavy government regulation such as health insurance and other healthcare products and services. This disparity disproves the theory that increased demand causes only price increases, as witnessed in the healthcare products I mentioned. It is government involvement that is preventing the improvement.

Obamacare was Not Designed to Fail

A conservative critique of ACA, aka Obamacare, is that it was designed to fail so Democrats could instead implement a single-payer health care “system”. Here’s a column by the respected Larry Elder.

I disagree with that view. ACA was the Democrats’ attempt at using government bureaucracy to administer health insurance and resulting health care. Democrats, following progressive ideology, do not trust the market process. Progressives believe they are smarter than the rest of us and can allocate resources better and fairer than market processes. Note also some conservatives believe this as well. People in government, whether (modern) liberal, conservative, or middle-of-the-road take simply cannot give up the power and control that government provides them. They could be in an elected or appointed capacity.

The market process consists of individuals making decisions, voluntarily interacting with one another in commercial transactions, trial-and-error, competition, choice, and experimentation. You can see from this description how some failures will occur with market processes. But it also allows for many more successes, inventions, and improvements.

If health care cannot be administered by government bureaucracy while letting some limited individual decision-making as the ACA allows, it certainly cannot be distributed by freed market processes. Its too important. Government has to completely take over.

But the Democrats have been pushing, with some Republican help, for bureaucratic administration, which consists of unelected government employees issuing rules and regulations that do not have to be implemented legislatively. Adding language in legislation gives the appropriate government agency the rule-making power.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is one such agency. It reports into the unelected bankers at the Federal Reserve.

 

Draining the Swamp – Update

Forbes:

And so here we are, the first president to come solely from the private sector, representing the party that for more than a century championed laissez-faire capitalism and free trade, proposing that government punish and reward companies based on where they choose to locate factories and offices. Is the president comfortable with that idea?

“Very comfortable,” he replies. “What I want to do is reciprocal. See, I think the concept of reciprocal is a very nice concept. If somebody is charging us 50%, we should charge them 50%. Right now they charge us 50%, and we charge them nothing. That doesn’t work with me.”

This is filling the swamp because lobbyists will swarm all over Washington, DC to get their clients excluded and/or their enemies included, however it plays best for their clients. Many politicians will welcome this intervention. They can buy and sell votes up the wazoo. This is a deal-maker’s paradise, which Donald Trump excels at.

Firms buy sales and profits in Washington, DC instead of the marketplace.

Let’s not fool ourselves. This happens all the time, but this is taking it to a higher level. It doesn’t matter if a nationalist or socialist likes it. Its wrong no matter which party does it.

Here.

Bill Maher Lashes Out At Democrats For Over-Regulation: “It Makes People Hate Us, It Makes Me Hate Us”

Yes! HBO Real Time host Bill Maher arguing for freedom to make choices in our lives.

“Until then all this will accomplish is to feed into the Republican message that Democrats don’t want to help people they just want to micromanage their lives,” Maher said. “It makes people hate us. It makes me hate us. And it prompts kickback.”

You bet your a$$ it prompts kickback, at least from me.

“I don’t want to let the right-wing own freedom,” Maher said. “People want to drain the swamp, not ban Big Gulps. Yes, I understand, you have a thousand good ideas for how I should live my life, check my privilege and sort my recycling. I will get to that. But first we need to get some Democrats elected and that’s hard when the movement to childproof the world has made Republicans the party of freedom and Democrats the party of poopers.”

With you on this, Bill. Here. I’d love to see more competition between the political parties over more freedom.

Sen. Warren (D, MA) Grills Wells Fargo CEO

Senator Warren grilled Wells Fargo & Co. CEO Timothy Sloan during Senate hearings on the firm’s account creation scheme.

She tried to argue that the CEO personally profited from the scheme by making the stock go up. A large company like Wells Fargo, the CEO cannot make the stock up. Institutional investors, pension funds, index funds, traders, government sovereign wealth funds, and other large institutions are the main movers in the financial markets. They have to agree with the story the company is telling in order to buy the shares, or if they use technical analysis, see a pattern that’s bullish.

As for Sloan, he was not prepared for this partisan attack.

She wants him fired. That’s not her responsibility to hire and fire company executives. And, more importantly, its unconstitutional under Article 1, Section 9. The US Constitutions forbids Bill of Attainder. See here and here for explanations. Among other infringements of our rights, it could eliminate Due Process.

And it appears she wants to install a puppet regime so she can control the banking industry. Fascism 101, folks.

There was always something totalitarian about progressivism. The followers of this movement have no problem bossing anybody around if they don’t behave the way progressives want.

Politicians crave control, certainty, and stability. You hear them talk about stability of financial markets, of job markets, of domestic social and global situations.

With that in mind, imagine viewing issues from the perspective of politicians. If some issue gets out of control, they get criticized. We seek comfort in their supposed competence to handle various situations. But that comes with a price in the form of more laws, more regulations, more controls, and less freedom of choice. You may not even know it because politicians have mastered the art of concealing their intentions.

They pass a law that controls corporations in an industry, for example, and that law manifests itself in many ways such as the products and services it offers. And you wonder why a firm acts the way it does — well that’s why. The firm acts as an agent of the government and the politicians escape responsibility.