On Liberty EP95 Simon Breheny No Harm Done from Harm Reduction

We welcomed Simon Breheny, Public Policy Manager at Philip Morris International and former Policy Director at the Institute of Public Affairs.

Simon argues that heavy-handed regulations are not the answer to improving heath outcomes. Education, rather than regulation, is what helps individuals make informed choice about how they live their lives.

Yet our lifestyles are routinely under the microscope of government. All that excessive and unnecessary regulation achieves is to marginalise, infantilise, and persecute individuals for their own choices – even when they have no impact on the lives of others. Far from achieving better health outcomes, policy biases can lead to arbitrary barriers to choice. Ultimately this results in adverse incentives and makes peoples’ lives less healthy and less free.

Policymakers must focus on harm reduction policies when it comes to consumption of lifestyle products, like tobacco and drugs, rather than stubborn commitment to failed prohibitionary approaches.

Is it time to call quits on quit smoking campaigns? Are we too heavy-handed in regulating use of drugs? Do we really need the nanny state to dictate what we consume in our own time with our own money? How can policymakers reduce harm for users?