Lifestyle Economics

Assessment Failed

Christopher Snowdon writes for The Critic

IEA Head of Lifestyle Economics Christopher Snowdon has written for The Critic discussing the government’s impact assessment for the proposed generational tobacco ban.

Christopher wrote:

“Politicians do not make evidence-based decisions. Politicians make political decisions and then leave it to civil servants to marshal the evidence after the decision has been made.

“The Tobacco and Vapes Bill is a case in point. Last autumn, Rishi Sunak announced that he wanted to ban people born after 2008 from ever buying tobacco. No country has ever raised the age of smoking like this and no one knows how it will pan out. Prohibition doesn’t work at the best of times and it seems destined to fail when the prohibited product is still on the shelves for most of the population to buy. Nevertheless, Rishi Sunak is set on the idea and so legislation was hastily drafted and an Impact Assessment commissioned. 

“How on earth do you predict what will happen under this weird, untested policy, let alone show that the benefits will outweigh the costs? The approach of the civil servants  behind the Impact Assessment was to email 19 “expert stakeholders” and ask them what they thought would happen. Their combined wisdom led to the graph below which shows smoking rates over the next 76 years with and without Sunak’s prohibition. It predicts that the number of smokers will steadily fall without a generational ban but, for some bizarre reason, this comes to a halt after a few decades and it flatlines for the rest of the century.”

Read Christopher’s full piece here.

You can also read Christopher’s recent paper Prohibition 2.0: Critiquing the Generational Tobacco Ban.