- Nov 23, 2013
Flavored tobacco ban treats adults like kids
...tobacco is legal, just as alcohol, lotteries, casino gambling and, increasingly, even marijuana are legal — if you are 21 or over. As a society, we let adults make adult-like choices about things that have downsides, but restrict kids from these options. A federal ban on all flavored tobacco presumes to treat adults like kids.
Prohibition, which ended 87 years ago, remains a primer on how to lose tax money and create crime but not change behavior. A ban on flavored traditional tobacco products will require more law enforcement, but with less revenue from excise taxes, many already cash-strapped communities will have to divert resources away from other public safety activities or raise new taxes. And do not assume selling flavored smokes or dip on the black market would be a petty, isolated crime. A government report notes that the low-risk and high-reward nature of such activity makes it a popular way to raise and launder cash for other criminal endeavors, including terrorism and human trafficking.
If the goal is to protect kids, the legislation is unnecessary. Raising the legal age for buying tobacco to 21 is working. If the goal is to protect adults and benefit society more broadly, the bill would go in the opposite direction. Congress has better things to do.