Regulating Vice: Misguided Prohibitions and Realistic Controls

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Cambridge University Press, Nov 5, 2007 - Law
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Regulating Vice provides a new, interdisciplinary lens for examining vice policy, and focuses that lens on traditional vices such as alcohol, nicotine, drugs, gambling, and commercial sex. Regulating Vice argues that public policies toward addictive activities should work well across a broad array of circumstances, including situations in which all participants are fully informed and completely rational, and other situations in which vice-related choices are marked by self-control lapses or irrationality. This precept rules out prohibitions of most private adult vice, and also rules out unfettered access to substances such as alcohol, tobacco, and cocaine. Sin taxes, advertising restrictions, buyer and seller licensing, and treatment subsidies are all potentially legitimate components of balanced vice policies. Regulating Vice brings a sophisticated and rigorous analysis to vice control issues, an analysis that applies to prostitution as well as drugs, to tobacco as well as gambling, while remaining accessible to a broad social science audience.

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Page 7 - That principle is, that the sole end for which mankind are warranted, individually or collectively, in interfering with the liberty of action of any of their number, is self-protection. That the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilised community against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not a sufficient warrant.

About the author (2007)

Jim Leitzel teaches public policy and economics at the University of Chicago. He received his PhD in economics from Duke University; he has taught at Vanderbilt University and Duke University, and served as the Academic Coordinator at the New Economic School in Moscow. Professor Leitzel has been a National Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, and an Atlantic Fellow in Public Policy based at the Department of Economics of the University of Essex. His research has concerned areas such as transition economics, gun control, and law and economics, and his previous books include Russian Economic Reform and The Political Economy of Rule Evasion and Policy Reform. Professor Leitzel works with the Economics Education and Research Consortium (EERC) in the former Soviet Union and the Bridging Research and Policy program of the Global Development Network (GDN). He is the founding member of Vice Squad (, a blog devoted to vice policy.

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