Lawrence O. Gostin, Faculty Director of the O’Neill Institute and Bryan Thomas, Law Fellow with the O’Neill Institute published a piece, “Tobacco endgame strategies: challenges in ethics and law,” in the May issue of the Tobacco Control.
There are complex legal and ethical tradeoffs involved in using intensified regulation to bring smoking prevalence to near-zero levels. The authors explore these tradeoffs through a lens of health justice, paying particular attention to the potential impact on vulnerable populations. The ethical tradeoffs explored include the charge that heavy regulation is paternalistic; the potentially regressive impact of heavily taxing a product consumed disproportionately by the poor; the simple loss of enjoyment to heavily addicted smokers; the health risks posed by, for example, regulating nicotine content in cigarettes—where doing so leads to increased consumption. Turning to legalistic concerns, the authors explore whether endgame strategies constitute a form of ‘regulatory taking’; whether endgame strategies can be squared with global trade/investment laws; whether free speech rights are infringed by aggressive restrictions on the advertisement and marketing of cigarettes.
Tobacco Control is an international peer review journal covering the nature and consequences of tobacco use worldwide; tobacco’s effects on population health, the economy, the environment, and society; efforts to prevent and control the global tobacco epidemic through population level education and policy changes; the ethical dimensions of tobacco control policies; and the activities of the tobacco industry and its allies.
The views reflected in this expert column are those of the individual authors and do not necessarily represent those of the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law or Georgetown University. This blog is solely informational in nature, and not intended as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed and retained attorney in your state or country.