Regulatory Absurdity And Wine Labeling

This article by Jacob Sullum in Reason Online today is an absolute must-read. Notwithstanding the mounting evidence that moderate alcohol consumption is good for your health, federal regulations mandate that winemakers cannot claim health benefits on their labels. An excerpt:

That is the upshot of regulations published this month by the Treasury Department’s Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), which has taken over the speech policing duties that used to be handled by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms. In 31 pages of tiny type, the TTB reiterates the government’s position that “a specific health claim on a label or in an advertisement,” no matter how well documented, “is considered misleading” unless it is accompanied by detailed warnings about the risks of alcohol consumption.

When it comes to alcohol, the puritan manifestation of our government’s desire to protect us from ourselves can actually be a knee-jerk, emotional, zero-tolerance response that does us more harm than good. And, as Jacob notes, it also gives free speech a kidney punch.