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Free Market Solutions in Health: Prohibition or Harm Reduction?

 

Some public health campaigners consider good health to be irreconcilable with free market capitalism. They regard the pursuit of profit as a major cause of unhealthy consumption and view certain industries as ‘disease vectors’. Accordingly, they support political action which limits commercial speech and restricts product development.

One consequence of this ‘neo-prohibitionist’ approach is that innovative products are banned under the precautionary principle. The sale of the two least hazardous recreational nicotine products - e-cigarettes and Swedish snus - cannot be sold in many countries despite growing evidence that they can play an important role in reducing smoking rates.