Article Text

PDF
Assessing tobacco regulation: moving beyond economists
  1. Anna V Song1,
  2. Stanton A Glantz2
  1. 1Psychological Sciences, University of California, Merced, California, USA
  2. 2Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education, University of California, San Francisco, California, USA
  1. Correspondence to Professor Stanton A Glantz, Professor of Medicine, Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education, University of California, San Francisco, Suite 366 Library, 530 Parnassus, San Francisco, CA 94143-1390, USA; glantz{at}medicine.ucsf.edu

Statistics from Altmetric.com

US presidents since Ronald Reagan have required regulatory agencies to conduct cost-benefit analyses of proposed regulations,1 currently governed by Office of Management and Budget Circular A-4.2 On its surface, requiring such analyses makes sense; after all, why burden businesses with costly regulations if there is little benefit to the public? There are, however, several problems with cost-benefit analysis, including the facts that the costs are often borne by different people than receive the benefits, the tendency of cost-benefit analysis to overstate costs and understate benefits and the pro-business bias within the economics profession.3 The net effect of requiring cost-benefit analyses is to make it more difficult to develop, implement and defend regulations to protect public health and the environment.

These problems are clearly manifest in the cost-benefit analyses done for the proposed tobacco product regulations by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), first as part of its unsuccessful 2011 attempt to require graphic warning labels on cigarette packages4 and its 2013 proposal to assert jurisdiction over non-cigarette tobacco products.5 In both cases, the FDA grossly underestimated benefits and overstated costs.

We6 criticised the cost-benefit analysis of the warning label rule4 on the grounds that it discounted any health benefits by 50% to account for the lost ‘consumer surplus’ that would result from smokers being denied the pleasure of smoking. …

View Full Text

Request permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.

Linked Articles