In an effort to
plant a talking point in the next Republican presidential debate prevent damage to the ozone layer, the Obama administration will order the phase-out of an over-the-counter asthma inhaler at the end of this year.
The Primatene Mist inhaler is the only one on the market that uses chlorflourocarbons (CFCs) as a propellant. Those compounds have been the target of an international phase-out campaign since 1987, when it became clear that they were helping destroy the ozone layer that protects the earth from direct exposure to solar radiation. Other inhalers use a different chemical to propel medicine to asthma sufferers, but those require prescriptions, and at a higher cost.
Some commentators are not pleased at this development. Mark Hemingway at The Weekly Standard says it most succinctly: "The Obama administration would rather make people with Asthma cough up money than let them make a surely inconsequential contribution to depleting the ozone layer." Hemingway points to the experiences of The Atlantic's Megan McArdle with non-CFC inhalers (as well as low-energy clothes dryers, fluorescent light bulbs and low-flow toilets) as evidence that mandated environmental improvements lead to unhappiness, or at least to inconvenience.