W. Kip Viscusi

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Duke Law Journal

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cigarette regulation, tobacco industry


Health Law and Policy | Law


Professor W. Kip Viscusi argues for a move away from the adversarial approach to tobacco regulation, an approach that is currently embodied in class action lawsuits and the proposed broadening of FDA regulatory power over cigarettes. In this Article, he suggests that the FDA should take a constructive role in fostering technological innovations to promote cigarette safety, in much the same way that the government currently fosters safety improvements in motor vehicles and jobs. Professor Viscusi claims that the objective of government policy should be to promote informed consumer risk taking-an approach which recognizes that adult consumers have a right to smoke and to incur the associated risks. He provides survey data demonstrating that although consumers know that smoking is a risky decision, they have little exposure to information regarding the comparative riskiness of various cigarette brands. According to Professor Viscusi, the government should assist in compiling and disseminating information regarding the comparative risks of different smoking options and the effects of certain innovative safety features for cigarettes. Making this information available would enable consumers to make more informed smoking decisions and potentially minimize the health hazards that smoking poses.



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