Bootleggers, Baptists, and Tobacco Regulation

By Rotondi, Joseph A. | Regulation, Summer 2007 | Go to article overview

Bootleggers, Baptists, and Tobacco Regulation


Rotondi, Joseph A., Regulation


Members of both houses of Congress have introduced identical bills to include tobacco under the Food and Drug Administration's regulatory umbrella. FDA chairman Andrew yon Eschenbach opposes this legislation. Altria, the largest U.S. cigarette producer with 51 percent of the market, supports it. This seeming paradox grows from and is explained by tobacco roads paved with "bootlegger-Baptist" coalitions.

THEORY Pioneered by Bruce Yandle in this magazine in 1983, "bootleggers and Baptists" is an important addendum to public choice theory. It draws its name from stories behind states' enactment of Sunday alcohol sale prohibition laws. To wit: for moral reasons, Baptists advocated bans on Sunday alcohol sales. Bootleggers quietly and willingly went along for the higher prices and enhanced profit that would result from halted competition. The theory's essence, then, is that durable social regulation forms when two very different groups demand regulation: Baptists' public interest cloaks bootleggers' naked greed, the invisible coalition greases government machinery, and voila.

The history of U.S. tobacco regulation is rife with these alliances. It has taught some public health advocates, as well as some tobacco companies, that "bootleggers" will likely benefit from FDA control.

EARLY BOOTLEGGERS Before the 1964 surgeon general's report on smoking's perverse health effects, the cigarette industry largely avoided regulation for two main reasons. First, smoking was a popular and accepted habit. During World War I, the U.S. troop commander in France cabled Washington that "tobacco is as indispensable as the daily ration; we must have thousands of tons of it and without delay." During World War II, tobacco farmers stayed home because their crop was deemed essential to the war effort. After the war, cigarette popularity increased even more, with famous athletes and movie stars lighting up.

Second, industry power pervaded government. Members from tobacco-producing states chaired one third of House committees and nearly a quarter of Senate committees in the early 1960s. In 1957, one House subcommittee introduced a bill that would have both set limits on tar and nicotine levels in cigarettes and granted the Federal Trade Commission injunctive powers to prevent deceptive advertising. Directly thereafter, the subcommittee chairman lost his post and his subcommittee was disbanded altogether. The bootleggers had simply flexed their muscle without concern for Baptist cover.

But in February 1960, the FTC announced it had negotiated a "voluntary agreement" with the industry to cut all tar and nicotine claims from cigarette advertising. Public health Baptists, whose ranks had grown with mounting medical evidence that smoking causes cancer, claimed victory. The FTC chairman called the agreement "a landmark example of industry-government cooperation in solving a pressing problem." But bootleggers had won. While FTC intent was to improve the market for safer cigarettes, the ban forced tobacco companies to stop competing on the health claim margin. As a result, they cut costs and increased profit.

BAPTISTS RALLY, BOOTLEGGERS WIN In 1964, the surgeon general issued a major report that linked smoking to lung cancer, chronic bronchitis, and coronary disease. It dramatically changed the political debate on tobacco and stoked Baptist fervor. The FTC quickly issued a rule that would require cigarette ads and packages to say "Cigarette Smoking is Dangerous to Health and May Cause Death from Cancer and Other Diseases."

The bootleggers took control of this Baptist revival. Through congressional maneuvering, the tobacco industry helped pass a bill that gave the FTC specific authority to regulate health claims and nicotine content in advertising but watered down the FTC warning to read "Caution: Cigarette Smoking May Be Hazardous to Your Health." More importantly, it preempted any further FTC, state, or local government-mandated cigarette package warnings and prohibited any such requirement in cigarette advertising until 1969. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Bootleggers, Baptists, and Tobacco Regulation
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.