Proposed ban of trans fats

Letter to the Editor of the Montreal Gazette.

One would think we had learned nothing from the U.S. experience with Prohibition, or the War on Drugs. Banning a substance such as alcohol or marijuana inevitably leads to the creation of a criminal underground which profits enormously, and supports a large bureaucracy which depends on criminal activity for its existence, all paid for by taxpayer dollars. The opportunities for corruption and bribery are endless!

The proposed ban on trans fats promises more of the same. Will it be the Mafia or the bikers who cash in? And will the RCMP set up special trans fats squads, or will our government create a brand new police force to deal with this scourge of society?

If I were paranoid, I would even suspect the trans fats manufacturers of being behind this ban. As things stand, they are quietly going out of business as their customers, such as McDonald’s or McCain’s, reduce or eliminate trans fats from their product line. If and when trans fats become illegal, the black market price will skyrocket, profit margins will balloon, and manufacturers will be smiling once again.

Don’t get me wrong: I am not in favour of trans fats. In addition to ill effects on the heart, trans fat consumption is also a risk factor for dementia. But levying a “sin tax” on trans fats, a bit like we do for tobacco and alcohol, might be a way to preserve the freedom of individual consumers, and revenues could be used to pay for their subsequent medical treatment. Just imagine the possibilities! We could create a trans fats registry, just like the gun registry, and make sure that our auditor general and the loyal opposition in Parliament have plenty of fodder for years to come…

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