Tag Archives: meddlesome preferences

E-Cigs the Market Solution to Save a Billion Lives? @EricCrampton @JenesaJeram


Straight talking from @BernieSanders on #sugartaxes @JordNZ


Source: Bernie Sanders Op-Ed: A Soda Tax Would Hurt Philly’s Poor.

#MorganFoundation errors about @nzinitiative’s Health of the State – part 2


E-cigarettes as a way of reducing obesity?

One of the many interesting things that Maori Party MP Marama Fox said at a panel discussion for the launch of the New Zealand Initiative’s Health of the State report was that the Maori women she knew who smoked did so out of stress relief.

It is also well known that there is a weight gain after stopping smoking. If people cannot smoke because of higher taxes but still need to have an outlet for their stress, they look elsewhere and seek comfort in food.



Source: Weight Gain After Quitting Smoking – Quit Smoking Community.

This is before you consider the general pleasure seeking aspect of smoking. Some people find smoking pleasurable; I find it disgusting.


This suggests to me that the restrictions on E-cigarettes are the worst of both worlds. If people are going to smoke, you may as well let them have access to a technology that is safer.

Instead, the do-gooders prefer to put an extra bullet in the chamber as smokers play Russian roulette.

#MorganFoundation errors about @nzinitiative’s Health of the State – part 1

The Greens have joined that Morgan Foundation in playing the man rather than the ball on the recently published report of the New Zealand Initiative on sin taxes.  Green Party health spokesperson Kevin Hague said:

The New Zealand Initiative cares more about junk-food barons’ bottom lines than it cares about Kiwis who are getting sick and dying because of obesity-related illnesses

The Morgan Foundation was just as keen to argue that their opponents on sin taxes are both ignorant and steeped in moral turpitude as a way of avoiding substantive argument:

The New Zealand Initiative are not interested in reducing obesity, or preventing the looming diabetes crisis where 1 in 3 Kiwis will have the disease. They make no attempt to understand the causes, and don’t propose any way to deal with these issues…

Is there no room for honest disagreement and different views on the ability of further government intervention to be a net benefit? As Aaron Director said:

Laissez-faire is no more than a slogan in defence of the proposition that every extension of state activity should be examined under the presumption of error.

One of the specific claims by the Morgan Foundation that seems to be in error is:

In fact, the report seems devoid of any research outside a narrow economic focus. The food industry has funded an enormous amount of psychological research on how to influence people to eat more junk food through packaging, advertising, product placement etc, much of which is publicly available, but which the New Zealand Institute has roundly ignored. Ironic, given that they funded by the same organisations that funded this psychological research.

The Food industry’s own research shows our choices are hugely influenced by the environment that surrounds us, but the New Zealand Institute conveniently prefers to cling to the oversimplification that we are all rational economic units – known as homo economicus.

The report of the New Zealand Initiative has a nice discussion of the limitations of rationality which did not weigh as heavily as it should in the critique by the Morgan Foundation part of which is in the snapshot below:


Source: Jenesa Jeram, The Health of the State, The New Zealand Initiative ( April 2016, p.10).

The share market speaks on the UK #sugartax @JulieAnneGenter @GreenCatherine


The biggest drop was in a company that sold its sugar interests in 2009 so that was a rather within the day affair once traders realised their error.

Source: George Osborne’s sugar tax could raise price of diet drinks and even bottled water  | Daily Mail Online

British e-cigarette usage by current smoking status

The majority of smokers try an e-cigarette. To the extent to which an e-cigarette is a gateway drug to giving up smoking, that is important development.


Source: Office of National Statistics, E-cigarette use in Great Britain, 2015.

Gary Becker on the weak case for junk food taxes @JordNZ @dpfdpf


Source: Gary Becker Fat Taxes, or Just Fat? | Hoover Institution (2010).

Most healthcare expenditures are in the last 3 to 6 months of life. Smokers and overeaters live shorter lives. This can save more than it costs to the health budget. That finding is sufficiently frequent as to put the fiscal case for junk food taxes and sugar taxes on the canvas but still with a chance of getting back up to fight on.

At a minimum, it makes junk food and sugar taxes a legitimate topic for honest disagreement. That is before you consider that people have the right to live their lives according to their own lights and make a few sometimes big mistakes along the way as part of finding their way.

“Coddling U vs. Strengthening U" by @JonHaidt