Contrasts between historical tobacco-related versus current food-related interventions are both striking and illustrative. First, the cost of tobacco products in the Western world has increased primarily due to taxation and discontinued government subsidies [16
]. In contrast, ingredients for potentially addictive foods (e.g., corn, sugar) are inexpensive because they are heavily subsidized by many governments. Suggestions to tax hyperpalatable foods, like soda, are currently being debated [17
]. Evidence from tobacco suggests that that increasing the price of hyperpalatable foods through taxation and shifting subsidies could have beneficial effects on consumption. Second, restrictions placed on marketing tobacco directly to children have contributed to reduced tobacco use. In contrast, hyperpalatable foods are the most frequently marketed products specifically targeting children and adolescents [18
]. Food advertising has become increasingly difficult for parents to monitor, given the increase in product placements, advergaming (i.e., the use of videogames to promote products or ideas), and school-related marketing enterprises [19
]. Following the tobacco precedent, restricting childhood exposure to advertising of potentially addictive foods may be an important public health strategy.
In addition to cost and marketing issues, accessibility is another critical factor in limiting tobacco use. Cigarettes were once widely sold in vending machines in public locations. In addition to providing greater general access, tobacco vending machines provided a major point of access for minors to illegally purchase cigarettes [20
]. As of 2003, most American states have restricted the use of tobacco vending machines [20
], and similar regulations limit accessibility to alcohol, with greater restrictions for more potent alcoholic beverages. Beer is typically more widely available for purchase (e.g., in gas stations, grocery stores) and subject to less taxation than liquor. Alcohol potency is associated with abuse potential; hence, liquor sales are sometimes restricted to state-run stores and subject to higher taxes [21
]. In contrast, foods with lower nutritional value and arguably greater abuse potential (i.e., high sugar, high fat) typically are more widely available and cost less than foods with higher nutritional value and arguably lower abuse potential (i.e., fruits, vegetables) [22
]. Based on approaches to alcohol, food-related problems may be diminished by reducing the availability of less nutritious, hyperpalatable foods while increasing access to healthier ones.