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The Bootleggers and the Baptists: Understanding the Groups Supporting and Opposing Tobacco Regulation

1. Introduction

In the state of Utah, the campaign against tobacco smoking has focused on demand reduction. Its foundation has been education – in schools, through the mass media, during health care programs. In addition, the state has increased tobacco taxes and implemented smoking bans in public places. These policies have been successful in reducing tobacco consumption and saving lives.

However, some groups – including the tobacco industry and its allies – have opposed these policies, arguing that they are costly and infringe on personal freedoms. They have also argued that tobacco regulation is unfair because it does not equally target other products that cause harms, such as alcohol and junk food.

In this essay, I will first explain the economic theory of regulation called “the bootleggers and Baptists”, which can help to understand why different groups support or oppose tobacco regulation. I will then describe the main policies that have been implemented to reduce tobacco consumption in Utah, and finally I will discuss the costs and benefits of these policies.

2. The Bootleggers and the Baptists

The “bootleggers and Baptists” theory was first proposed by Bruce Yandle in 1983 to explain why certain industries are able to get favourable regulations passed despite being harmful to society (Yandle, 1983). The theory states that two types of groups usually support regulations: those who benefit financially from the regulation (the “bootleggers”), and those who support the regulation for moral reasons (“Baptists”).

In the case of tobacco regulation, the “bootleggers” would be the companies that produce products that help people quit smoking, such as nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) patches or gum. These companies would benefit from a ban on smoking because it would increase demand for their products. The “Baptists” would be health advocacy groups or individuals who think smoking is morally wrong and want to see it banned for public health reasons.

The theory explains why industries are able to get regulations passed that are beneficial to them, even when those regulations are harmful to society as a whole. It also suggests that industry interests are often allied with morality-based groups, even though they may seem like unlikely allies.

3. The Tobacco Regulation

In Utah, the main policy tools used to reduce tobacco consumption are education, taxation and smoking bans. These policies have been successful in reducing smoking rates, but they have also been opposed by the tobacco industry and its allies.

Education:
The state of Utah has a long history of using education to reduce tobacco consumption. In 1975, Utah was one of the first states in the US to implement a statewide tobacco education program in schools (Utah Department of Health, n.d.). The program includes lessons on the dangers of smoking and how to avoid starting smoking in the first place.
Tobacco education programs like this one have been shown to be effective in reducing smoking rates among young people (Utah Department of Health, n.d.). They help young people understand the risks of smoking and make informed decisions about whether or not to start smoking.
Cigarette Taxes: Cigarette taxes are another important policy tool for reducing tobacco consumption. They work by making cigarettes more expensive, which makes people less likely to smoke or more likely to quit smoking if they already do.
In Utah, the cigarette tax is $1.70 per pack of 20 cigarettes, which is higher than the national average of $1.36 per pack (Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, 2019). The high cigarette tax has been successful in reducing smoking rates in Utah. Between 2002 and 2012, the smoking rate in Utah declined by 36.3% (Utah Department of Health, n.d.).
Smoking Bans: Smoking bans are another effective policy tool for reducing tobacco consumption. They work by making it illegal to smoke in public places, which makes it harder for people to smoke and more likely that they will quit smoking if they already do.
In Utah, there is a statewide smoking ban in all indoor places, including restaurants, bars and workplaces (Utah Department of Health, n.d.). The smoking ban has been successful in reducing smoking rates in Utah. Between 2006 and 2012, the smoking rate in Utah declined by 12.4% (Utah Department of Health, n.d.).
The policies of education, taxation and smoking bans have been successful in reducing tobacco consumption in Utah. However, they have also been opposed by the tobacco industry and its allies. The tobacco industry has argued that these policies are costly and infringe on personal freedoms. They have also argued that tobacco regulation is unfair because it does not equally target other products that cause harms, such as alcohol and junk food.

4. The Promotional and Advertising Activities of the Tobacco Industry

The tobacco industry has long used promotional and advertising activities to sell its products and increase consumption. These activities include sponsoring sporting events, placing ads in magazines and newspapers, and giving away free cigarettes at events like concerts or fairs.
The tobacco industry has used these activities to target young people, who are especially susceptible to starting smoking (USDHHS, 1994). For example, studies have shown that young people are more likely to start smoking if they see tobacco ads or if their friends smoke (USDHHS, 1994).
The tobacco industry’s promotional and advertising activities have been successful in increasing consumption and profits. However, they have also been opposed by health advocacy groups and individuals who think smoking is morally wrong. These groups have argued that the tobacco industry’s promotional activities are harmful to public health and should be banned.

5. The Costs of Tobacco Use

Tobacco use imposes costs on both individuals and society as a whole. These costs can be divided into two categories: direct costs and indirect costs.
Direct costs are the monetary costs that are directly related to tobacco use, such as the cost of medical treatment for smokers or the cost of buying cigarettes. Indirect costs are the non-monetary costs of tobacco use, such as the loss of productivity from absenteeism or premature death.
In Utah, the direct costs of tobacco use are estimated to be $847 million per year (Utah Department of Health, n.d.). This includes the cost of medical treatment for smokers ($502 million), the cost of lost productivity from absenteeism ($247 million), and the cost of buying cigarettes ($98 million). The indirect costs of tobacco use are estimated to be $1.8 billion per year (Utah Department of Health, n.d.). This includes the cost of premature death ($1.3 billion) and the cost of lost productivity from premature death ($484 million).
Tobacco use imposes a significant burden on both individuals and society. These costs are an important reason why many people support tobacco regulation.

6. The Social Expenses of Tobacco Use

In addition to the costs of tobacco use, there are also the social expenses of tobacco use. These are the costs that are incurred by society as a whole, such as the cost of healthcare for smokers or the cost of lost productivity from premature death.
In Utah, the social expenses of tobacco use are estimated to be $1.8 billion per year (Utah Department of Health, n.d.). This includes the cost of healthcare for smokers ($1.3 billion), the cost of lost productivity from premature death ($484 million), and the cost of lost productivity from absenteeism ($247 million).
The social expenses of tobacco use are an important reason why many people support tobacco regulation. They show that tobacco use imposes significant costs on society as a whole, not just on individual smokers.

7. Conclusion

Tobacco use is a major public health problem in Utah. It causes harms to both individuals and society, and it imposes significant costs on both. The state’s campaign against tobacco smoking has focused on demand reduction. Its foundation has been education – in schools, through the mass media, during health care programs. In addition, the state has increased tobacco taxes and implemented smoking bans in public places. These policies have been successful in reducing tobacco consumption and saving lives.

However, some groups – including the tobacco industry and its allies – have opposed these policies, arguing that they are costly and infringe on personal freedoms. They have also argued that tobacco regulation is unfair because it does not equally target other products that cause harms, such as alcohol and junk food.

In this essay, I have explained the economic theory of regulation called “the bootleggers and Baptists”, which can help to understand why different groups support or oppose tobacco regulation. I have also described the main policies that have been implemented to reduce tobacco consumption in Utah, and discussed the costs and benefits of these policies.
The state’s campaign against tobacco smoking has been successful in reducing consumption and saving lives. However, more work needs to be done to reduce the harms caused by tobacco use and to make sure that these policies are equitably applied to all products that cause harm.

FAQ

The "Bootleggers and Baptists" theory is that special interests can sometimes work together to get legislation passed that benefits both groups. In this case, the bootleggers are the tobacco companies, who want people to be able to buy their products, and the Baptists are the health advocates, who want to see a reduction in smoking.

This theory applies to tobacco smoking because it is an example of how two groups with different goals can come together to achieve a common goal. In this case, the goal is reducing smoking rates.

Some potential benefits of implementing Bootleggers and Baptists-style legislation or regulation when it comes to tobacco smoking include reducing smoking rates, improving public health, and saving lives. Drawbacks could include resistance from the tobacco industry and some members of the public who do not want to see any restrictions placed on smoking.

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