Research Before Regulation

By Brian Noyes

Too often we see trigger-happy regulators implementing burdensome and disastrous measures that squeeze business and limit consumer choice, possibly driving them to the black market. Yesterday, the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) released a report hinting at new tobacco regulations, but called for more science-based research to backup findings and guide regulations:

The FDA is committed to a science-based approach that addresses the public health issues raised by menthol cigarettes. To further the FDA’s understanding of the likely public health impact of the use of menthol in cigarettes, the FDA plans to support new research on the differences between menthol and nonmenthol cigarettes.

The three additional studies promised by the feds are a good start towards science-based decision-making, but there are other factors beyond the cigarette itself that should be further investigated and incorporated into the process.

For instance, certain regulations could facilitate the mushrooming of illicit trade. Notorious criminal organizations foreign and domestic tend to satiate demand that legitimate businesses cannot- either by capability or by regulation- fulfill. That means an increase in contraband and counterfeits that are oftentimes dangerous and fall into the hands of those who are the least discerning.

We all know that regulating for the sake of regulating is not a great remedy to address important issues like public health. While the desired bottom line may be in fact noble, the unintended consequences could be devastating, making the need for science-based fact-searching ahead of regulating ever the more important.


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