There is much debate about the future of tobacco regulation. Some have argued that to achieve maximum possible reduction in the harm tobacco causes, new regulatory models that involve fundamental institutional change must be adopted. The tobacco industry will continue to undermine tobacco control, and, so it is argued, we must change the way in which it operates if we are to be able to make the necessary progress. Such proposals may have an immediate appeal, especially for those frustrated that progress in tobacco control is not as rapid as they would hope—with all the avoidable loss of life and livelihoods that that entails—but they need to be carefully analysed and assessed, and much thought must be applied before spending time and resources advocating for them. One such proposal, advanced by Borland, involves the establishment of a monopsonistic statutory purchasing agency and wholesale distributor of tobacco products. Borland argues the relative benefits of such a model as compared to a more “conventional” model. On close examination, the benefits of the Borland proposal, as compared to the conventional model, appear overstated, and the Borland proposal introduces significant regulatory problems. There is still much that can be achieved in tobacco regulation through more conventional approaches, and within the “existing system”. We should be wary of allowing the understandable allure of new or radical approaches to distract us from this reality.
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Competing interests: none declared
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