The House Ways and Means Committee recently signed off on a proposal to tax the nicotine used in vaping products. The dangers of vaping are a hot topic right now, but this bill is but one of the latest attempts by social engineers to tax something dangerous for our own protection. While such proposals always trigger some opposition, paternalistic policies have become ever more politically popular in recent years.

In various parts of the country, state and local governments levy selective sales or excise taxes on cigarettes, vaping products, alcohol, sugary soft drinks, marijuana, chewing gum, potato chips, pretzels, milkshakes, baked goods, ice cream, popsicles, parking, illegal drugs (yes, really), playing cards, hotel rooms, fur clothing, “sex-related merchandise,” gasoline, electric vehicles, plastic bags, and countless other goods. Candy and red meat have recently been drawing attention.

The justification for such taxes usually sounds benevolent. Soda taxes are supposed to make us healthier by limiting weight gain. Taxes on single-use plastic bags are supposed to make our environment cleaner and oceans safer for sea life. Now, meat taxes are supposed to save our hearts and, to boot, the planet.