Chris Snowdon

Christopher Snowdon is a fellow of the Adam Smith Institute and an independent writer and researcher. He is the author of The Art of Suppression (2011), The Spirit Level Delusion (2010) and Velvet Glove, Iron Fist (2009). His work focuses on pleasure, prohibition and dodgy statistics. His blog is Velvet Glove, Iron Fist.

Shiny happy people? The madness of the Happy Planet Index

Written by | Wednesday 20 June 2012

The New Economics Foundation’s Happy Planet Index has been inspiring bemusement and mirth since it first appeared in 2006. The third installment, released last week, continues to defy parody with its glorification of lawless, poverty-stricken countries in the name of environmental sustainability.

Why a fat tax would be a terrible idea

Written by | Wednesday 16 May 2012

When we scheduled the release of The Wages of Sin Taxes for 15th May, we did not guess that it would be sandwiched between the announcement of a 50p minimum price for alcohol in Scotland (Monday) and a new campaign for sin taxes on food and soft drinks (today).

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The Wages of Sin Taxes

Written by | Tuesday 15 May 2012

What is the true aim of taxes on alcohol, tobacco, fatty foods, and other "vices"? Are smokers, drinkers and fat people burdens on society who should be discouraged from enjoying their habits by taxation? Do these "sin taxes" actually work? In The Wages of Sin Taxes, Chris Snowdon tackles these questions and shows that sin taxes do not achieve their stated aim, offer no tangible benefit to society, and hit the poorest hardest.

The Bennites strike back

Written by | Friday 4 May 2012

Tim Worstall made himself (more) unpopular with Compass last week by pointing out that their idea of creating a form of national socialism rather resembled the sort of economy favoured by National Socialists.

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A tale of two minimum prices

Written by | Tuesday 20 March 2012

Consider two propositions. Firstly, that a minimum price on a unit of alcohol will reduce alcohol consumption by making cheap booze less affordable. Secondly, that minimum wage laws increase the price of a unit of labour, but do not lead to greater unemployment. 

These two statements are logically inconsistent and yet many people are able to hold both simultaneously. Some people take the opposite view: that minimum pricing won’t work, but that the minimum wage destroys jobs. They, too, seem to believe that employers respond differently to higher costs than drinkers.

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Plain packaging - a new Adam Smith Institute report

Written by | Monday 20 February 2012

Today sees the launch of the Adam Smith Institute's latest report, Plain packaging: Commercial expression, anti-smoking extremism and the risks of hyper-regulation.

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Plain packaging

Written by | Monday 20 February 2012

Commercial expression, anti-smoking extremism and the risks of hyper-regulation.

Christopher Snowdon examines the case for plain packaging of cigarettes, including examples from around the world. He finds that its supposed benefits are, in fact, nonexistant, and plain packaging laws may have significant unintended consequences as well, including making counterfeiting of cigarettes more common. Plain packaging laws could lead us down a slippery slope where alcohol and even fatty foods are also controlled by the government.

George Monbiot's stupidity

Written by | Tuesday 7 February 2012

George Monbiot begins his Guardian op-ed this week with this jaw-dropping assertion:

Self-deprecating, too liberal for their own good, today's progressives stand back and watch, hands over their mouths, as the social vivisectionists of the right slice up a living society to see if its component parts can survive in isolation. Tied up in knots of reticence and self-doubt, they will not shout stop.

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Sugar: the new monster under the bed

Written by | Friday 3 February 2012

In their ongoing campaign for plain packaging of cigarettes, Action on Smoking and Health have dismissed fears of a slippery slope, saying:

Tobacco is not like any other product, it is the only legal product on the market which is lethal when used as intended... Plain packs for tobacco would not set a precedent for other products.

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Campus smoking bans are naked authoritarianism

Written by | Wednesday 18 January 2012

When a Guardian journalist attended an Adam Smith Institute event in October, he came away convinced that libertarians are “obsessed” with smoking. This, of course, is an outrageous slur (everybody knows libertarians are obsessed with guns and drugs), but how can freedom-minded individuals not take an interest in the naked authoritarianism of the anti-smoking lobby in 2012? Take events on US college campuses, for example:

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