GOP Rep. Buyer: Harness Market Innovation For Safer Tobacco Products

Rep. Steve Buyer (R-IN) took to the House floor this morning to denounce the tobacco regulation bill as a big step on the road to Tobacco Socialism. His argument: That the bill narrow-mindedly attempts to stop tobacco use entirely, as opposed to harnessing the powers of market innovation to develop and encourage people to use safer, less harmful tobacco products.

Buyer said that cessation programs have a success rate of only 7% — meaning that we are accepting failure by going down this road. Instead, he said, we should be using market innovation to migrate populations over to safer and more mild tobacco products, which in turn could help people quit.

Buyer noted that people make “harm-reduction choices” every day, in terms of what they eat or drink, what car to drive, etc. “But how come we don’t apply harm-reduction strategies to tobacco?” He asked. “We should. In the marketplace right now, there are many types of products.”And to keep the public informed, Buyer then reviewed the various types of nicotine products that are out there, laying out the whole range of relative harms that each option poses: Cigars, chew, non-filtered cigarettes, filtered cigarettes, nicotine inhalers and others, all the way to Swedish snus (a type of snuff that is better, he explained, because it is pasteurized rather than fermented).

“What we have in the bill is abstinence,” he said — explaining that while it does mention harm-reduction, there is such a complicated regulatory mechanism that it effectively locks in the current market.

For once, an American conservative has recognized that it’s pointless to teach abstinence. The real answer is safe smoking.