Bruce Yandle, author of the wonderful paper “Bootleggers and Baptists: The Education of a Regulatory Economist,” applies the logic of that paper to FDA regulation of tobacco in the latest issue of The Freeman:
No, there is no evidence to suggest that tobacco has until now been “an industry that has gone basically unregulated.” But there is ample evidence that tobacco regulation has served the interests of the industry and the politicians that broker favors to the industry. Meanwhile, consumers of tobacco products, who are generally a lower-income population, have been denied the benefits of competitively determined product information; they also have unwittingly become major sources of revenue for state politicians, who generally provide more benefits to higher-income than lower-income consumers.
One can only speculate about what might have happened had the FTC not outlawed health-effects advertising and had the industry not become one of the more regulated industries in America.
Read the whole thing.