On Tuesday, ReasonTV uploaded a new video from John Stossel about New York City regulations on tobacco.
The video begins with convenience store owner Kamal Saleh, who was allegedly "hit with thousands of dollars in fines" because he "sold three cigars for $8.89 – 11 cents too cheap," according to New York City rules.
Here [New York City] bureaucrats say tobacco must be sold for above minimum floor price. Why? Because anti-tobacco crusader Kurt Ribisl told the Center for Disease Control "very cheap products should no longer be available."
Stossel and Ribisl had the following exchange about his role in the rise of tobacco prices in New York City:
RIBISL: It deters children from starting smoking.
STOSSEL: You suggest this at the CDC; New York says "Ah! Good idea!"
RIBISL: Well, it’s also being considered very seriously in a number of jurisdictions in California.
STOSSEL: Why do you get to decide?
RIBISL: No, I’m not deciding, I’m a person who studies these policies. I’ll let the policy-makers decide.
STOSSEL: Why do the politicians get to decide?
RIBISL: Cigarettes are the most lethal product ever introduced. ... People still have the ability to buy it if they so choose.
STOSSEL: Just not poor people.
RIBISL: We see much higher smoking rates among poor people, and so we need policies that are gonna reduce tobacco use among poor people.
STOSSEL: They choose it – and the right to make your own choices is important.
RIBISL: People are still figuring out ways to afford it. It’s not to the point where no one who’s poor is smoking. Do you know that we have over twenty tobacco retailers for every McDonald’s in the U.S.?
STOSSEL: It must be because people want that. What if you run a tobacco store? You’re just screwing them.
RIBISL: I want to see a transition toward thinking more about healthy food and beverage because that’s gonna be a future making money.
Stossel goes on to speak with Andrew Tilem, an attorney who represents "store owners who get fined." Tilem claims that it’s the small store owners who are harmed by New York’s myriad onerous regulations, while large corporations are relatively unscathed.
After Stossel tells Tilem that "smoking hurts people," and the city believes they’re simply protecting consumers, the attorney replies, "And I’m not a smoking advocate, but I think in this country, and in this city, that people have the right to do the wrong thing."
Check out the entire video here: