- “Judge Says He’s Had Enough Of Weeding Through Baseless Lawsuits, Threatens Sanctions” [Daniel Fisher; M. D. Georgia judge on vaginal mesh cases]
- More on pricey regulated generics [Scott Gottlieb/WSJ, earlier on EpiPen, more on latter from Joel Zinberg/City Journal]
- Feds ban pre-dispute arbitration agreements in nursing home care [McKnights]
- How Ronald Reagan’s FDA responded to the AIDS crisis — and it’s probably not the story you’ve heard [Peter Huber, City Journal]
- FDA regs likely to winnow smaller, distinctive makers from the cigar business, recalling a Somerset Maugham story [James M. Patterson] Debunking the “Helena miracle,” once more: no link between local smoking bans and short-term drops in heart attacks [Jacob Sullum, earlier here and here]
- “Ethicists make the case for bone marrow transplantation markets” [Ilya Somin]
Young persons in California will have at least three years’ practice voting to take away the rights of other persons before they acquire a full set of rights themselves. [CNN]
P.S.: “Old enough to be executed, but not to have a final smoke. California logic.” [Scott Greenfield on Twitter]
Pierre Lemieux in Cato’s Regulation magazine on the tendency of “public health” to pursue prescriptive moral reform in the guise of regulating health risks:
“In many respects,” writes [Bernard] Turnock, “it is more reasonable to view public health as a movement than as a profession.” “Public health,” the Encyclopedia of Philosophy tells us, “is focused on regulation and public policy.” Public health experts claim a jurisdiction that covers anything related to welfare, little of which consists of genuine public goods. The basic thrust of public health is to remove decisions from the domain of individual choice. For example, public health experts believe that driving is a privilege, not a right, and probably extend this characterization to any activity that they don’t like or for which they think they would easily qualify (like parenting rights).
Slippery slopes mar the whole history of public health…if one wishes softer examples, from the treatment of the insane to Prohibition, to the current harassment of smokers, and to the partial nationalization of “public” places. Despite some reversals, the slope is as slippery as it ever was.
Related, cruel but predictable: HUD plans nationwide ban on letting public housing tenants smoke in their own units [Washington Post]
“The administration [of Mayor Bill de Blasio] is planning to select and pay four health-advocacy groups $9,000 apiece to pressure landlords and developers to prohibit smoking in their apartment complexes so neighboring tenants don’t inhale secondhand smoke.” [Carl Campanile/New York Post]
“…Because It Looks Too Much Like Smoking.” The invention and rapid spread in popularity of e-cigarettes might be seen as a sort of lab experiment to test the proposition: when you banned smoking, were you mostly concerned about the spillover effects on third parties or mostly being paternalistic toward tobacco users? [Jacob Sullum, Reason]
Considering that whole edifices of regulation are built on the premise of the lethal nature of “passive” smoking, you’d think the press might pay at least passing attention to reports like this one: a big study of more than 76,000 women found no link between lung cancer and secondhand smoke, which tends to confirm earlier studies also consistent with zero or undetectable association. [Journal of the National Cancer Institute; Christopher Snowdon] More: Jacob Sullum (“Now they tell us.”)
The ban applies to privately owned homes that share a party wall with another home. [ABC News] The rationale, per city official Rebecca Woodbury:
“It doesn’t matter if it’s owner-occupied or renter-occupied. We didn’t want to discriminate. The distinguishing feature is the shared wall.” As justification for the rule, she cited studies showing that secondhand smoke seeped through ventilating ducts and walls, even through cracks [emphasis added — W.O.]. “It depends on a building’s construction,” she said, “but it does affect the unit next door, with the negative health impacts due to smoke.”
San Rafael is in affluent Marin County just north of San Francisco. Woodbury said there had been hardly any opposition to the ordinance: “We have a very low percentage of smokers in the county,” she said. On proposals in Berkeley, Calif. to ban some smoking in private homes, see this recent post.
P.S. With end-of-year donation time coming on, I won’t be writing any checks to groups like the American Lung Association that support this sort of thing. Plenty of deserving health and research charities do great work while being respectful of individual liberty and property rights.
Berkeley, Calif. councilman Jesse Arreguin proposes banning smoking in private single family homes when children, seniors or lodgers are present [San Francisco Chronicle]
More: I’m quoted by Chronicle columnist Debra Saunders:
In deference to the secondhand smoke rationale, Arreguin suggests that the ban apply if a minor lives in the home, “a nonsmoking elder, 62 years of age or older is present” or any other “non-smoking lodger is present.”
Walter Olson of the libertarian Cato Institute compares the Berkeley nanny ordinance to secondhand smoke itself: “They are seeping under our doors now to get into places where they’re not wanted.”
He faults “ever more ambitious smoking bans” that rework the definition of private space. “Now they’re really just saying it doesn’t matter if you have the consent of everyone in the room.” Olson savored Arreguin’s suggestion that 63-year-olds cannot consent to being near a smoker.
Following the rules wherever they lead? The newly installed alarms did promptly catch a guest smoking in a cleaning closet. [Independent]
“The vices of the rich and great are mistaken for error; and those of the poor and lowly, for crimes.” (attributed to the Countess of Blessington) The main scientific reason (if it can be called that) cited by the Food and Drug Administration seems to be that adding menthol makes smoking more enjoyable to many users, leading to readier “initiation of the smoking habit.” [Atlantic Wire] In addition, the World Trade Organization ruled last year that it was an arbitrary trade restriction for the United States to have banned clove-flavored cigarettes of the sort formerly imported from Indonesia, as Congress did in the Tobacco Control Act of 2009, without also banning menthol-flavored cigarettes. [Jakarta Post]