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Direckshun
09-17-2012, 10:20 AM
I remember being told that instituting varoius government regulations on unhealthy products like soda would do nothing to solve public health -- that allowing more choice was the key to getting a healthier public.

Cigarrette regulations, from higher taxes on cigarrettes to various smoking bans, turns out to have been pretty successful in marginalizing the frequency of smoking in public life.

Sin tax, anybody?

http://www.slate.com/blogs/moneybox/2012/09/14/war_on_smoking_is_working_fewer_people_smoking_and_those_who_do_are_smoking_less_than_ever_.html

The War On Smoking Is Working
By Matthew Yglesias
Posted Friday, Sept. 14, 2012, at 11:01 AM ET

http://www.slate.com/content/dam/slate/blogs/moneybox/2012/09/14/war_on_smoking_is_working_fewer_people_smoking_and_those_who_do_are_smoking_less_than_ever_/1347634887683.gif.CROP.article568-large.gif

Response to New York City's partial ban on very large sodas has featured a lot of commentary drawing heavily on the "futility" leg of Albert Hirschmann's three-legged stool of the rhetoric of reaction. But if I think back to the evolution of cigarette smoking policy since the late-1980s that you can see the same thing. Relatively few of the measures enacted—a price hike here, a ban on cigarette machines there—seem like public health game-changers on their own terms. But not only is the overall smoking rate steadily falling (http://www.theheart.org/article/1274453.do), but Gallup is out with survey evidence showing that the number of cigarettes smoked by those who do smoke is falling (http://www.gallup.com/poll/157466/smokers-light-less-ever.aspx).


We should take that self-reported data with a grain of salt, but the trend seems credible.

I'd speculate that the line of causation has to do with the trend toward banning smoking in bars, which seems to substantially reduce the aggregate quantity of smoking that occurs in them even as people continue to step outside for the occasional butt. That doesn't say anything about the wisdom of what the Bloomberg administration is trying to do here, but I think it underscores the point that public health paternalism works and it works even though it takes the form of incremental measures rather than huge sweeping gestures. If you want to worry about something credible, worry about slippery slope dynamics. No giant sodas in one city and calorie menu labeling on chains nationwide are both very modest gestures, but the same forces that pushed for those will keep coming up with new ways to ratchet up the sigma and inconvenience associated with "empty" calories. For my part, I'm with Ray Fisman and think that taxing sweetened drinks (http://www.slate.com/articles/business/the_dismal_science/2012/09/bloomberg_s_soda_ban_taxing_sugary_beverages_is_a_better_more_effective_idea_.html) is the promising policy in this regard. Among other things it would also raise revenue, and let us get by with fewer taxes on work and investment.

patteeu
09-17-2012, 11:33 AM
I don't really understand why anyone would suggest that more choice would lead to healthier outcomes than a heavy-handed policy that is based on obviously more healthy choices (like not smoking versus smoking) so it would be interesting to hear who this was that told you that (if anyone really did).

What you're really talking about isn't how do we get to the best health outcomes but what balance should we have between freedom and health and how far can we go with the nanny state before we start forcing bad choices on people on the basis of junk science?

KC_Lee
09-17-2012, 11:48 AM
Wait, I thought that a reduction in smoking would result in lower health care costs. That's what was sold during the 90's when every state was suing the tobacco companies.


So what happened?

Saul Good
09-17-2012, 11:51 AM
I was wondering what that loud bang I heard from the lounge. It must have just been this thread backfiring.

Direckshun
09-17-2012, 12:08 PM
What you're really talking about isn't how do we get to the best health outcomes but what balance should we have between freedom and health and how far can we go with the nanny state before we start forcing bad choices on people on the basis of junk science?

What is your review of the heretofore anti-smoking policies, in that light?

Direckshun
09-17-2012, 12:08 PM
Wait, I thought that a reduction in smoking would result in lower health care costs. That's what was sold during the 90's when every state was suing the tobacco companies.

So what happened?

I'm not sure what you're arguing.

That suing tobacco companies was supposed to bring down healthcare costs?

patteeu
09-17-2012, 12:42 PM
What is your review of the heretofore anti-smoking policies, in that light?

On the first point, I'd come down on the side of freedom and on the second point I think the science suggesting that smoking is a health danger is solid (at least so far as the smoker is concerned).

Direckshun
09-17-2012, 01:21 PM
On the first point, I'd come down on the side of freedom and on the second point I think the science suggesting that smoking is a health danger is solid (at least so far as the smoker is concerned).

I'm asking about this case specifically, regarding smoking.

Where do you think the paternalism has gone too far, if at all?

KC_Lee
09-17-2012, 01:26 PM
I'm not sure what you're arguing.

That suing tobacco companies was supposed to bring down healthcare costs?

Yes, that was the core arguement for all the state's lawsuits against the tobacco companies, smoking was causing higher health care costs. Now that there a less adults smoking why have the health care costs not dropped?

Direckshun
09-17-2012, 01:27 PM
Yes, that was the core arguement for all the state's lawsuits against the tobacco companies, smoking was causing higher health care costs. Now that there a less adults smoking why have the health care costs not dropped?

I don't think they were ever arguing that fighting smoking was the silver bullet to lower healthcare costs.

vailpass
09-17-2012, 02:20 PM
I was wondering what that loud bang I heard from the lounge. It must have just been this thread backfiring.

LMAO Orange-reckshun has graphs and charts, how can he be wrong?

patteeu
09-17-2012, 04:03 PM
I'm asking about this case specifically, regarding smoking.

Where do you think the paternalism has gone too far, if at all?

I gave you an answer that was specific to this case, but with respect to this even more specific question, I oppose public smoking bans in private establishments (e.g. restaurants). I'm OK with public smoking bans in public buildings and I'm OK with private smoking bans in private buildings.

FishingRod
09-17-2012, 04:32 PM
Soda pop has no nutritional value and is very fattening leading to a host of medical problems. We would be far safer if private ownership of automobiles was reduced about 90 %. Over exposure to the sun leads to skin cancer.
We could outlaw pop, add a tax to cars in a similar percentage as they have done with cigarettes and pass laws putting people on a schedule or limit of when and how much they can be outside.
With all things there needs to be balance. We can’t have a country with no laws and no protection for each other but I do think the scale should be very heavily tilted in favor of individual freedom and away from protecting people from their selves.