Objective: To outline a novel strategy for controlling the tobacco market.
Arguments: More comprehensive controls over the tobacco market are essential and long overdue. Effective controls need to encourage the development of less harmful products; control commercial communication to ensure that potential harms are highlighted relative to any benefits; and provide mechanisms to move consumers away from tobacco use, or at least towards less harmful alternatives. Achieving this by regulating the existing industry is one strategy. This paper puts the case for an alternative: to have marketing controlled by an agency (called here the Tobacco Products Agency, or TPA) which tendered to manufacturers for product and which distributed to retailers in ways that reduce incentives to bend or break the law. The TPA would be backed by legislation that made tobacco a controlled substance with possession sale and use only allowed as permitted by the regulations, which in reality would be only as provided by the TPA.
Conclusions: The overall effect of such a model, which we call a “regulated market model”, would be to eliminate most of the incentives and remaining opportunities for commercial promotion of tobacco and to create incentives to encourage the development of less harmful tobacco products. Such a model preserves the competition inherent in a free market, but directs it towards the challenge of reducing the harm from tobacco use.
- harm reduction
- product modification
- FCTC, Framework Convention on Tobacco Control
- RMM, regulated market model
- TPA, Tobacco Products Agency
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↵* In jurisdictions where smokeless products are banned, it may be worth allowing them onto the market to the extent that they are likely to be substitutes for cigarettes, rather than a largely independent market. The value of doing so would need to be clearly weighed, using the experience of Sweden as a guide.