June 7, 2016
It seems like an economic no-brainer that if you can raise the cost of a good or service, people will buy and consume less of that good or service. This is the broad theory behind sin taxes; goods that are viewed as having negative consequences for society are taxed to discourage use and pay for supposed financial burden they put on the public. They aren’t new—they’ve been around since at least Cleopatra’s reign when she taxed beer to mitigate public drunkenness (or pay for her war with Rome) and just about every culture utilizes sin taxes to raise revenue and nudge residents to make “better” choices. But do they work? That is the question Philadelphia’s City Council will hopefully...
May 16, 2016
Congress is abuzz with the issue of gambling. Last month, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) inserted language from his failed online gambling ban into the Senate appropriations bill, presumably hoping to secretly sneak his ban through the process. And just last week, the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade held a hearing on Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) betting, asking the question: what should be the future of this form of online betting and is there a role for the federal government to play?
Just a day before the hearing, CEI released a paper titled, “Game Changer: Rethinking Online Gambling...
May 12, 2016
For more than two years a cadre of congressmen have worked, without any luck, to enact a bill that would create a de facto national prohibition on Internet gambling. Though doing so would mean overturning the laws in several states that have legalized and regulated the activity, the effort has been led by Republican members—many of whom are vocal proponents of the principle of federalism. Despite being a top priority for a major GOP donor, two hearings, and support from three former presidential nominees, the measure proved increasingly unpalatable to members of Congress. Unable to pass the bill with the above-board approach, proponents are trying to ban online gambling by sneaking it through the process.
As Gambling Compliance first noticed,...
May 5, 2016
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) today announced broad new rules regulating the sales of cigarettes, cigars, hookahs and pipe tobacco. In addition to banning the sale of such products to consumers under 19 years old, they also bring e-cigarettes under the same onerous regulations as traditional tobacco products. While the public health goals of protecting consumers from possibly harmful vaping products and preventing kids from becoming addicted to nicotine are laudable goals, this heavy-handed approach will only likely push people—adults and teens alike—back toward far more harmful tobacco products.
While the long-term effects of vaping are still unknown, there’s little doubt that e-cigarettes are dramatically less harmful than other tobacco products. According to...
March 25, 2016
For most public health advocates, no amount of alcohol is safe. As they see it, any amount of alcohol increases a drinkers risk for certain negative health outcomes and they have tried to scare people into abstinence with tales of cancer, sexual assault, and fetal alcohol syndrome; all of which are real risks associated with alcohol consumption, but usually only in extreme quantities. Rarely will a public health official address the subtleties of risk or the possible physical and psychological benefits of low and moderate alcohol consumption. To do so...
February 23, 2016
Despite the fact that tobacco products kill nearly half a million Americans each year, it is vaping products—which help people quit smoking—that have become a top target for health advocates. In addition to the Food and Drug Administration’s proposed rules that would create a de facto ban on the products, health advocates are trying to pass laws in the states that would increase restrictions and taxes on electronic cigarettes. Their intentions may be good, but the consequences of their proposals in states like Utah could be a disaster for public...
February 17, 2016
Election years are particular divisive for lawmakers on Capitol Hill. Yet, last week members of the House managed to put partisan politics aside and approve a bill that would ease the regulatory burden of mandatory, one-size-fits-all menu labeling requirements. While some portray the proposal as “denying” consumers information, what it really does is give food service businesses flexibility in how they provide relevant nutritional information and other common sense alterations.
The Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act of 2015 (H.R. 2017), introduced by Reps. Cathy McMorris-Rodgers (R-Wash.) and Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.), passed in the House 266-144, with 33 Democrats and 233 Republicans approving the measure. The bill amends the Food and Drug Administration’s labeling requirements for food vendors with 20 or more locations...
February 16, 2016
American city officials, take note: Sometimes the remedy to a purported problem is worse than the disease. This is a lesson fans of Sydney’s once vibrant nightlife are beginning to learn. After the punching deaths of two teenagers and immense public outcry, officials sought to address the issue of drug and alcohol-fueled violence by banning takeaway alcohol after 10:00 pm throughout New South Wales and creating “CBD Entertainment Precincts.”
Bars, clubs, and music venues within these zones would, among other things, be forced to turn away new patrons after 1:30 am and stop serving alcohol after 3:00...
February 8, 2016
Many, if not most proposals that make their way through Congress seem to have comically unsuitable names. However, at the end of this week the House of Representatives is expected to vote on a plan to remove one onerous, unneeded Obamacare regulation. A little known provision within Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires retail food establishments with 20 or more locations to list calories for regular menu items it serves on all signs and printed menus. While consumers might benefit from knowing calorie content, this one-size-fits-all mandate puts a big burden on small food retailers, and it could lead to unwanted price hikes. H.R. 2017—the Common Sense Nutrition...
February 8, 2016
Are you a woman of childbearing age? Do you binge drink constantly and have unprotected sex on the reg? Well, the CDC wants you to know that you’re putting a potential child’s life at risk with your irresponsible behavior. This message was at the center of a mini-firestorm last week after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a press release telling women between 15- and 44-years-old they need to either quit drinking entirely or get on birth control. Some couldn’t understand why seemingly reasonable advice was so offensive. Luckily, there are many smart, snarky, female writers out there who leapt at the task of explaining why looking at women as existing in a...