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

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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.

 

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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.

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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:

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