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Welcome to Heartland’s Consumer Freedom Lounge

Welcome to The Heartland Institute’s “Consumer Freedom Lounge” – the place to go for sound science, economics, and legal commentary on the regulation and taxation of alcohol, tobacco, vaping products, and other “sin” products. This issue suite gives you access to the best available research and commentary from scores of independent research organizations, publications, and government sources. We want to work with you to fight the “nanny state.”

Man peering into closed door meeting

Smoking poses well-known health risks. Smoking is habit-forming and isn’t healthy, and kids shouldn’t smoke. But government regulators have gone well beyond reasonable measures to discourage smoking and protect nonsmokers, and they are now waging all-out war on smokers. That’s wrong. Federal, state, and local government in the United States have used excise taxes, smoking bans, and other regulations in an attempt discourage cigarette use, but those are having little effect on smoking rates.

Scales showing wealthy person and many people

Many anti-smoking activists attack alternatives that could save smokers lives. While going cold turkey or using nicotine replacement therapies work for some smokers, they don’t work for all. Another option is to reduce the harm by shifting to less-hazardous products that provide similar enjoyment such as “snus,” heat-not-burn tobacco, or e-cigarettes. Electronic cigarettes and vaporized nicotine products (VNPs) offer many advantages to current tobacco smokers: They eliminate the dangerous chemicals and toxins found in tobacco smoke, and thus are great products to reduce the harm current tobacco smokers face. Unfortunately, opponents want to impose overzealous regulation and excessive taxation on these products even though they are a proven harm reduction tool.

Man hailing a taxicab

After the repeal of Prohibition, state governments were granted explicit authority to regulate alcohol sales and distribution within their own borders through Section 2 of the 21st Amendment. Today alcohol products (beer, wine, and spirits) are some of the most heavily regulated and taxed consumer products in the United States. Governments have imposed significant taxes on alcohol products as well as imposing a three-tiered distribution system, blue laws, and other regulations.


Title: As California Bans Menthol Cigarettes Are More States to Follow?
Description: Christina Herrin, government relations manager of health policy, discusses the impacts of government bans on menthol cigarettes with Leonard Robinson of Consumers Research. As states look to ban menthol in cigarettes, opponents on both sides of the political spectrum have begun to speak up. More government regulation doesn't necessarily equate to more public safety, but often results in the eruption of a black market making individuals less safe. Read more:

Alcohol & Tobacco Experts Team

The Heartland Institute's experts on alcohol and tobacco issues are available for legislative testimony, speaking engagements, and media interviews.

Staff & Fellows Policy Experts