In 1983, Bruce Yandle first published the idea that, in regulation, there were often two parties lobbying for regulation to take effect: bootleggers and baptists. Baptists are calling for the regulation on the grounds of morality or protecting people. The bootleggers are passively supporting the regulation because they plan on profiting from it. The terms are a clear reference to the American prohibition of alcohol.

A few months ago, President Obama signed a law that would allow the FDA to ban flavored cigarettes. Today, that law goes into effect. The move was justified on the grounds that flavored cigarettes were disproportionately targeted to children (the baptists’ argument). But what was lost between the headlines was the fact that Phillip Morris, the largest tobacco manufacturer in the country, doesn’t produce any products that are covered by the ban. In fact, menthol cigarettes, produced almost exclusively by Phillip Morris, were mysteriously exempted from the bill. The third biggest distributor, Lorillard Inc., also does not make any covered by the ban.

This is a prime example of how regulation perpetuates market domination by special interests and is not as “moral” as it’s cracked up to be. I think the power of special interests and lobbyists is obvious:

Menthol, the most popular flavored cigarette and the one preferred by blacks, was allowed to stay on the market over objections from seven former U.S. secretaries of Health and Human Services.

SEVEN former U.S. secretaries of Health and Human Services!

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