Commentary: Flavored tobacco bans are tasteless public policy


As the months-long delay in the Biden administration’s adoption of a menthol cigarette ban draws on, states and municipalities across the country are wading into these waters on their own, particularly in New England. But most of these efforts are going one step further by banning all flavors for combustible and smokeless tobacco products.

Massachusetts was the first state to approve a flavor ban in 2019, and Vermont’s House of Representatives approved a prohibition in the Green Mountain State just last month. In my home state of Maine, seven municipalities, including the largest city of Portland, have banned flavored tobacco, and the state legislature is currently considering a bill to ban flavored sales statewide, a rule which could be adopted by the end of the current session.

Whether these restrictions come from the state or federal level, flavor bans are tasteless public policies that simply do not achieve their intended goals. Instead of curbing tobacco use, these bans reroute the supply chain, give rise to illicit black markets, and result in massive misallocations of public resources. Harm reduction — not prohibition — should be the regulators’ focus.

Click here to read the full piece written by director of legislative affairs, Jacob Posik, in the International Policy Digest.