The tobacco prohibitionists are at it again
Prohibitionists come in all shapes, sizes, and political affiliations. Among the major political parties, Republican prohibitionists generally oppose drug legalization in any form, while Democratic prohibitionists take a hard line against tobacco products, also in whatever form.
As Steven Greenhut writes, California is a prime example of the latter behavior, made all the starker thanks to a ballot initiative that would legalize hallucinogenic mushrooms. It comes as the resident political class expands its war on tobacco to include tobacco alternatives:
In 2020, Newsom signed Senate Bill 793, which bans the sale of flavored tobacco products across the state. The main target is vaping. Public-health activists claim that tobacco companies are targeting teenagers by offering candy-like flavors in vape liquids, even though stores may not sell vape products to anyone under age 21. Virtually all vape liquids are flavored, so the law would essentially ban their sale.
Opponents of the measure — funded by tobacco companies and retailers — gathered enough signatures to place a referendum that could overturn the law on the November 2022 ballot. As California’s process works, the state has suspended implementation of the law until the people decide at the ballot.
Rather than wait, two of the state’s largest cities, Los Angeles and San Jose, are looking to join San Francisco in passing their own local bans. One needn’t be a fan of Big Tobacco to understand the unintended consequences of such laws. The top British public health agency, Public Health England, has determined that vaping is 95 percent safer than smoking combustible cigarettes.
Prohibition leads to bad economic, social, and health outcomes. We’ve long known this. But the political blind spots on prohibition – whether it’s marijuana on the right, or tobacco alternatives on the left – remain as strong as ever. To the detriment of liberty, and common sense.