The UK has the opportunity to become a “world leader” in reducing the risks of smoking and drinking by slashing regulation around safer vice products, a new paper has argued.
Think tank the Adam Smith Institute (ASI) has recommended the government replaces “self-defeating regulation” on products such as e-cigarettes and hangover-free synthetic alcohol with a system of “permissionless innovation”.
Scrapping EU regulations such as the Tobacco Products Directive, which has choked off e-cigarette marketing, and ditching the UK’s emphasis on abstinence campaigns would pave a new regulatory pathway for alternatives to be developed and marketed, according to the report.
The ASI highlights lower-risk products held back by current regulations such as a new synthetic alcohol, Alcosynth, which has the potential to be up to 100 safer than actual booze as it provides the sensation of being tipsy without hangovers or long-term health hazards.
Meanwhile e-cigarettes, which have been touted by Public Health England as up to 95 per cent safer than traditional cigarettes, are held back by EU regulations that restrict companies' ability to promote their comparative health benefits to the public.
“Regulation must be flexible and encouraging of new products that are safer than the vices they’re competing with,” said Sam Bowman, executive director of the Adam Smith Institute.
“Britain can be a world leader in safe alternatives to alcohol and cigarettes, but we need regulation that foster those things instead of stamping them out.”