FDA Calculates How Much Pleasure Americans Lose By Not Smoking

The calculations were a part of how the agency decided on its proposed laws to regulate e-cigarettes.

Pleasurable

New calculations from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration quantify how much pleasure Americans lose by not smoking tobacco vapor products, such as e-cigarettes.Los Angeles County Supervisor

Not a smoker? You're missing out on a not-insignificant amount of fun, at least according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The agency recently released a cost-benefit calculation that included how much pleasure Americans lose by not smoking electronic cigarettes and some other tobacco products, Reuters reports. The calculation was a part of the decision-making into the FDA's new proposed rules for regulating e-cigarettes.

Apparently the FDA values the pleasure of smoking quite highly. From Reuters:

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration says . . . that the projected benefits of the new rules, which also apply to cigars, hookahs and other vapor products, should be cut by 70 percent to account for the deprivation consumers would suffer.

That means if the agency puts a value of $100,000 on the longer and improved life that might be achieved by deterring someone from smoking, then it would cut that benefit assessment to $30,000 because of the pleasure they lost.

If this seems a bit unusual to you, you’re not alone. Among economists, subtracting fun from the benefits of a proposed law is considered a “radical” addition to federal number-crunching, Reuters reports. Tobacco-control advocates worry the calculation will provide fodder for companies to argue that e-cigarettes and hookahs shouldn’t be as tightly regulated.

Reuters reports on an FDA’s spokeswoman’s explanation of the agency’s decision, as well as the government’s history of taking pleasure into account. The whole story is fascinating. You should check out the story there.

Meanwhile, we'd like to take a moment to think about what other cost-benefit calculations lost pleasure should play into. Regulating soda sizes? Restrictions on illegal drugs? Abstinence-only sex ed??