The Control of Tobacco Products and Electronic Delivery Systems Bill is back in the news. It represents the latest attempt by government to stop being a servant of the people and instead become the people’s babysitter, appointed by our supposed parents, the World Health Organisation. Freedom of choice, perhaps the most important public policy principle in the modern era, features nowhere in government’s thought-processes, as is often the case. Do South Africans truly wish to be coddled?

The Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) in London published its Nanny State Index earlier in May, ranking the levels of lifestyle choice in the countries of the EU. The index explains that nanny state policies reduce quality of life in various ways, including raising prices that hurt the poor the most and push the industry concerned (such as tobacco) into the black market. It also leads to corruption, presumably as black market sellers of affected products bribe state officials to look the othe...

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