News from across the pond last week suggested that all was not well in the Land of the Free – despite the best efforts of President Trump to repeal more regulation than passes into law from now on.

The bombastic mayor of New York, Bill de Blasio, has taken a hard line on cigarettes, stating his opposition to ‘Big Tobacco’ in a series of aggressive tweets, and saying that he will introduce a tax hike on tobacco from $10.50 to $13 per pack.

It all feeds into the global campaign against tobacco and cigarette marketing. Tax hikes are the order of the day in New York, while plain-packaging for cigarettes has been introduced in Australia, France and Great Britain.

But the Wall Street Journal today has pointed out something that we at Popla have been saying for a while: all excessive regulation of cigarettes leads to is an explosion of smuggling and profiteering on the black market.

The Journal’s editorial today tells how de Blasio’s plan will divert the resources of the NYPD, which already devotes excess manpower to chasing down ‘loosies’, or untaxed, black market cigarettes. The effects of this trade have already made headlines across the world: the State department called the illegal tobacco trade ‘A Threat to National Security’ in 2015, while the now infamous death of Eric Garner in 2014 at the hands of New York cops came after they arrested him for selling counterfeit cigarettes.

As usual, it’s a case of talking tough while not looking at the outcomes. Tax hikes in the US, like plain packaging in Europe and Australia, are nowhere near as effective at curbing smoking as the authorities would have you believe. Mayor de Blasio may be about to discover just how damaging his progressive policies really are.

by Julia Dixon