Trans-Fat Ban: Is there a Softer Paternalism Available?

It looks like the New York Board of Health has voted to ban trans-fats. For all our readers wary of such legal interventions, I offer the view of G.K. Chesterton on cognate controversies:

[Y]ou do not keep a little boy from throwing stones by preventing him from ever seeing stones. You do not do it by locking up all the stones in the Geological Museum, and only issuing tickets of admission to adults. You do not do it by trying to pick up all the pebbles on the beach, for fear he should practise throwing them into the sea. You do not even adopt so obvious and even pressing a social reform as forbidding roads to be made of anything but asphalt, or directing that all gardens shall be made on clay and none on gravel. You neglect all these great opportunities opening before you; you neglect all these inspiring vistas of social science and enlightenment. When you want to prevent a child from throwing stones, you fall back on the stalest and most sentimental and even most superstitious methods. You do it by trying to preserve some reasonable authority and influence over the child.

But if that all sounds a bit too Dobsonian to you, there’s always soft paternalism. According to Jim Holt,

[S]oft paternalism says, You know what’s best for you, and we’ll help you to do it. Here’s an example. In some states with casino gambling, like Missouri and Michigan, compulsive gamblers have the option of putting their names on a blacklist, or “self-exclusion” list, that bars them from casinos. Once on the list, they are banned for life.

Anyone want to propose a precommitment strategy for avoiding the sirens of fast food?

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