Friday, August 5, 2016

Ann Arbor up in smoke

My first reaction to this headline about the Ann Arbor city council banning the sale of cigarettes to individuals ages 18 to 21 is that it is odd that they would have the power to do this. Reading the article, it seems likely that they do not actually have the power to do it, though in a narrower sense than my initial reaction had in mind.

This looks to me like a bunch of pointless moral posing by local pols at public expense, and thus yet another lesson in the difficulties of solving principal-agent problems. If the city council really does not have anything better to do, they should come over to my neighborhood and fix the appalling potholes.

More substantively, it seems to me to that if you are old enough to vote you ought to be old enough to buy cigarettes and alcohol. Politicians are a lot more dangerous than a few puffs of tobacco smoke or a beer. Indeed, that point is made by this very episode.

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