Month: July 2019

Boris Sparks Hope for Science

In his first speech as Prime Minister, Boris Johnson has delivered a promising outlook for the UK’s tech and agricultural sector, by committing to a more innovation-prospering future after Brexit. Johnson mentions “a bioscience sector liberated from anti genetic modification rules… we will be the seedbed for the most exciting and most dynamic business investments on the planet.” He also adds: “Let’s develop the blight-resistant crops that will feed the world”, in a move cheered by the National Farmers Union.

If you’re reading op-eds in the Guardian and blog entries from certain environmentalist groups, you’d think that this is some sort of gift from the PM for the sake of inflating British business. They’re mistaken, as unleashing scientific innovation in the United Kingdom means much more than that.

We know for instance that that growing a GM pest-resistant crop like this in the UK could save about £60 million a year in pesticide use. This is certainly good news for farmers, yet lest we forget – £60 million in savings means more leeway for competitive food pricing within the United Kingdom. With food prices in the EU rising by 2 per cent, the new government can send a powerful message that yes, food can become cheaper through more than just dropping tariffs, but through more efficient and technologically advanced farming. As of now, GM crops aren’t grown in the UK, but imported genetically modified soy is used for animal feed.

We also know that upcoming generations have much more favourable views towards scientific innovation in the agricultural sector than their parents. A 2018 poll of 1,600 18 to 30-year-olds, carried out for the Agricultural Biotechnology Council (ABC), found that two-thirds support agro-tech innovations – only 22 percent being concerned about the use of gene-editing or genetically-modified crops.

So why agro-tech, and why now?

As the UK looks towards a free trade future after the withdrawal from the European Union, Boris Johnson knows that the UK economy needs to be competitive and up to the challenge of changing environments and markets. Genetically-modified crops and gene-editing present amazing opportunities in the years to come, not only in the area of food, but also in patient choice. Gene-editing technologies could have a huge impact in reducing the death toll from diseases such as dengue fever, yellow fever, and the Zika virus.

This why the scientific community in the European Union will be more inclined with Boris Johnson than its own political leadership. 117 European research institutions have recently signed an open letter calling on ECJ to enable gene editing, bemoaning the strict legislation currently in place.

They write: “The strict legislation will make precision breeding hyper-expensive and, by consequence, a privilege of just a few large multinational companies. As such, European farmers will miss out on a new generation of hardier and more nutritious crop varieties that are urgently needed to respond to the results of climate change.”

One year ago, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) decided in Case C-528/16 that gene-editing should be treated the same way that genetically-modified organisms are handled at the moment, keeping them in essence practically illegal.

In the future, the European Union will have its own challenge of dealing with scientific innovation. For Boris Johnson, the hope needs to be that he can follow-up his promises with actions, delivering a prosperous era of innovation for Britain. By setting an example of breeding technologies and their benefits for human health and consumer choice, the UK could even become a new beacon of scientific research, to which the EU could eventually aspire to.

Originally published here

Synthetic farm chemicals boost harvest

“Agroecology as a political doctrine has no place in science-based policy discourse, and its promotion – given the scientific knowledge we have to today – is immoral. It needs to be stopped,” said Bill Wirtz, a policy analyst.

Read more here

Consumers will take Boris at his word: bring science to food production and trade freely with the world

London, UK – Yesterday, in his first speech as UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson outlined his policy agenda. The package is wide-ranging and covers many areas, but Johnson’s ambition to push for free trade and ‘liberate the UK’s bioscience sector from anti-genetic modification rules’ have a strong pro-consumer choice flavour.

Commenting on the speech, Maria Chaplia, European Affairs Associate at the Consumer Choice Center, said “it was good to see Johnson speaking up for consumer choice, especially with regard to science. Consumers and their needs do matter, and the fact that Johnson shares this sentiment should make us feel optimistic.

“GM foods have been consistently demonised by anti-science activists, making it extremely hard for scientists advocating for the benefits of gene-editing to be heard. One-sidedness is always dangerous as it undermines the value of debate and hence hinders innovation. Equally, giving an unfair advantage to conventional foods rids consumers of the chance to decide for themselves and shop as they wish. 

“The UK’s existing ban on GM crops would threaten a trade deal with the US, yet another reason to support Johnson’s ideas as he seeks to drive out the anti-gene modification rules. As he rightly noted, ‘free trade has done more than anything else to lift billions out of poverty’. It would then be insensible to walk away from the UK-US free trade agreement that has the propensity to become one of the greatest trade deals in history. Free trade and the achievements of modern agriculture benefit consumers,” said Chaplia.

“Time will tell whether Johnson manages to stick to this pro-consumer choice agenda, but the intention should be championed. As a consumer group representing consumers in the UK and globally, we look forward to furthering developments and support policy proposals that liberate the UK food and biotech sector from anti-innovation sentiment,” concluded Chaplia.

Florida Legislature Passes Bill Requiring Lottery Warning Labels

Cites Consumer Awareness

Placing warnings on lottery tickets is a bad gamble, says Jeff Stier, a senior fellow at the Consumer Choice Center and a policy advisor to The Heartland Institute, which publishes Budget & Tax News. Like all forms of gambling, purchases of lottery tickets tend to be recreational, and people realize that, says Stier.

“It’s unfortunate how highly regulated they are, but of course the irony is lottery tickets have a monopoly by the state, and they go to fund the state,” Stier said.

“When you have private sector gambling, they do usually require warnings on them, which is absurd,” Stier said. “People are aware they might lose their money, and they might go back to bet more, and they might lose again.”

There is an irony in the government putting warning labels on a product it sells, says Seton Motley, president of Less Government and a policy advisor to The Heartland Institute.

“The government makes tobacco companies print warnings on tobacco products, so why shouldn’t it meet its own requirements for their own product?” Motley asked. “Preferably, the government would just leave tobacco companies alone. Then they’d have a much stronger argument when protesting this bill.”

Read more here

[EU] Evaluation of marketing standards [Regulation (EU) No 1308/2013]

Evaluation of EU marketing standards (contained in the Common Market Organisation (CMO) regulation, the “breakfast directives” and CMO secondary legislation)

17. Are you familiar with any EU marketing standards in any of the following product sectors? (CCC Responses are in Green)

×Olive oil and table olives×Poultry meat Coffee and chicory extracts
 Fruit and vegetables Spreadable fats Cocoa and chocolate products
 Processed fruit and vegetable products Hops Fruit jams, jellies and marmalades
 Bananas×Beef and veal Fruit juices
 Live plants Wine Honey
 Eggs Milk and milk products None of the above

18. In your opinion, to what extent have the EU marketing standards, in the product sectors you are familiar with, contributed to supplying the market with products of a standardised and satisfactory quality ?

 Very strong positive contribution Moderate negative contribution
 Strong positive contribution Strong negative contribution
 Moderate positive contribution Very strong negative contribution
×Had no effect No opinion

19. In your opinion, to what extent have the EU marketing standards, in the product sectors you are familiar with, contributed to improving the conditions for production and marketing and creating a level-playing field in these sectors ?

 Very strong positive contribution Moderate negative contribution
 Strong positive contribution Strong negative contribution
×Moderate positive contribution Very strong negative contribution
 Had no effect No opinion

20. In your opinion, to what extent have the EU marketing standards, in the product sectors you are familiar with, contributed to providing adequate and transparent information to consumers ?

 Very strong positive contribution Moderate negative contribution
 Strong positive contribution Strong negative contribution
 Moderate positive contribution Very strong negative contribution
×Had no effect No opinion

21. In your opinion, to what extent have the EU marketing standards, in the product sectors you are familiar with, contributed to providing the purchaser with value for money ?

 Very good value for money
 Good value for money
×Limited value for money
 No value for money
 No opinion

22. In your opinion, to what extent could efficiency be improved by harmonising the control and reporting requirements of the different marketing standards ?

 Very strong potential for improvement
 Strong potential for improvement
 Moderate potential for improvement
×No potential for improvement
 No opinion

23. In your opinion, what could be simplified, and how, in order to improve the management and implementation of the EU marketing standards ?

Authorities should gather specific data on consumer consultation of marketing information, in order to identify consumer priorities. It is not sensible to increase compliance costs (resulting in higher consumer prices) for information that consumers are not interested in to begin with. The CCC also believes that new technologies already offer non-regulatory information carriers (through mobile applications and barcodes) that need to be considered as a substitute mechanism.

24. In your opinion, to what extent are the EU marketing standards, in the product sectors you are familiar with, consistent to other EU policy interventions in these sectors?

 Very strongly consistentStrongly consistentModerately consistentNot consistentNo opinion
EU rules on food safety   X 
Food information to consumers   X 
Geographical indications X   
Organic products   X 

Please specify:

On organic products: EU organic product labelling does not address the potential health implications of pesticide use in organic farming.

25. In your opinion, to what extent are the EU marketing standards, in the product sectors you are familiar with, consistent with international marketing standards and with private marketing standards?

 Very strongly consistentStrongly consistentModerately consistentNot consistentNo opinion
International marketing standards – Codex Alimentarius (CODEX)    X
International marketing standards – United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE)    X
Private marketing standards    X

26. In your opinion, has the implementation of the EU marketing standards caused any unexpected or unintended effects in terms of food waste ?

 Yes
 No
×No opinion

27. In your opinion, has the implementation of the EU marketing standards caused any unexpected or unintended effects in terms of animal welfare ?

 Yes
 No
×No opinion

28. In your opinion, has the implementation of the EU marketing standards caused any potential of abuse by market actors ?

×Yes
 No
 No opinion

29. In your opinion, to what extent do the EU marketing standards, in the product sectors you are familiar with, fit with the needs of the supply chain in these sectors (i.e. producers, processors, traders, retailers) ?

 Fit very well
 Fit well
 Fit moderately well
 Did not fit
×No opinion

30. In your opinion, to what extent do the EU marketing standards, in the product sectors you are familiar with, fit with the needs of consumers ?

 Fit very well
 Fit well
 Fit moderately well
×Did not fit
 No opinion

31. In your opinion, to what extent do the EU marketing standards, in the product sectors you are familiar with, fit with the needs of Member States administrations ?

 Fit very well
 Fit well
 Fit moderately well
 Did not fit
×No opinion

32. In your opinion, what are the most essential benefits of the EU marketing standards that cannot be achieved by the Member States/sectors acting on their own ?

N/A

33. Do you have any suggestions on how EU marketing standards could further improve product quality and production/marketing conditions in these sectors ?

N/A

34. In your opinion, has the implementation of the EU marketing standards caused any unexpected or unintended effects in regard to the sustainability of the food chain ?

 Yes
 No
×No opinion

35. Please feel free to upload a concise document, such as a position paper. The maximum file size is 1MB.

Please note that the uploaded document will be published alongside your response to the questionnaire which is the essential input to this public consultation. The document is optional and serves as additional background reading to better understand your position. 

The Consumer Choice Center (CCC) is an advocacy group standing up for the rights of consumers who want to make their own choices on a free and fair market. While product information and oversight is key, regulators need not overburden the regulatory framework with too many well-intended rules. It so happens that compliance costs in the field of fast-moving consumer goods are paid by consumers, acting as a tax on the consumption of ordinary people. Therefore the Consumer Choice Center encourages opposes “better regulation” to “more regulation”, in a spirit of streamlining the process of compliance. While market access regulations should be harmonised and permissive, product information should be adapted to local needs. A product being “made in Italy” is not helpful for an Italian consumer seeking Southern Italian products – particularly since producer addresses do not necessarily reflect the lieu of production. In this example, Italy should have the possibility to establish more than just country of origin, but even region of origin. In a comparable application of the same principle, countries wishing to keep up with agro-tech innovations (that have been proven to be safe for consumption by national authorities), should never need to require labelling of products that do not need labelling for public health concerns, since it would needlessly stigmatise certain products and mislead consumers. The CCC therefore opposes strict horizontal regulation of marketing standards across all sectors, and draws attention to the fact that paragraph 70 – which stipulates that consumers being misled “as a result of their expectations and perceptions” – opens the door with arbitrary interpretations of what those expectations and perceptions are. Labelling requirements — as for instance suggested for harmonisation in paragraph 104 for wine — do not respect regional priorities on the matter, and should be left to national authorities.Furthermore, we also believe that Regulation (EU) No 1308/2013 creates market interventions that can lead to price distortions, for example through state aid on private storage (paragraphs 10, 17, 18, 21), quantitative limitations and price fixing (paragraphs 5, 11, 14), or purchase terms (in the case of sugar) (paragraph 118).The CCC supports the Commission’s effort to support educational facilities with fruits and vegetables, with the aim of diversifying diets and making them more healthy (paragraphs 24, 25, 26, 27). Adding to that, we would like to add that physical exercise programmes have proven to be more efficient than radical dietary changes, so efforts need to be coordinated with other educational programmes, in order to achieve the desired goalsThe Consumer Choice Center declares its interest as a stakeholder to take part in further consultations and is happy to contribute to studies undertaken. We agree to the publication of these statements.

[UK] POST IMPLEMENTATION REVIEW OF TOBACCO LEGISLATION

The Tobacco Advertising and Promotion (Display) (England) Regulations 2010

These regulations apply to the display of tobacco products in small and large shops (display ban) and came into force on 6 April 2012 in larger shops and 6 April 2015 for all other outlets. The regulations prohibit the display of tobacco products in small and large shops, allowing trading to continue but preventing them from being used as promotional tools. All retailers are required to cover up cigarettes and hide all tobacco products from public view.

The full Tobacco Advertising and Promotion (Display) (England) Regulations 2010 are published on Legislation.gov.uk

1. Do you think the display ban of tobacco in small and large shops has helped to reduce the number of children and young people smoking?

Answer: I don’t know if it has or not.

Current scientific evidence points to the fact that smoking susceptibility amongst young people has dropped following the introduction of the display ban on tobacco in small and large shops. 

A decrease in smoking susceptibility does not necessarily equate to a decline in smoking rates, since this decrease also correlates with a number of other factors, on both the regulatory and the educational side, as well as innovations such as harm-reducing products. A negative side-effect of a display ban can be that smoking is perceived as an ominous and secretive act, which encourages certain youth to pick it up. In a comparable fashion, illicit narcotic substances are also purchased in large numbers by youths, without any advertising or display. We know through evidence in countries that have legalised or decriminalised these substances (particularly in the case of cannabis) that youth consumption rates normalise as the handling of the substance reaches social acceptance.

It would be ill-advised for the government to recreate the bad side-effects of prohibition in the case of tobacco. 

2. Do you think the tobacco display ban has encouraged and supported adult smokers to quit?

Answer: I don’t know if it has or not.

Scientific evidence presented by the World Health Organization (WHO) points to the example of New Zealand, where a display ban coincided with a decrease in smoking prevalence from 9% to 7%.

Correlation does not mean causation. The measure also has overlap with both the regulatory and educational measures, as well as innovations such as harm-reducing products. Further scientific research in the United Kingdom would be necessary to determine whether a decline in adult smoking cessation can be related to display bans.

3. What impact do you think the display ban has had on:

(a) general population

(b) retailers

(c) manufacturers

(d) other stakeholders

For consumers, the implementation of a display ban reduces the amount of information available for tobacco. Cigarettes are a legal product in the United Kingdom, yet consumers are now unable to identify differences between brands and are unexposed to new upcoming products. Added to that, a display ban creates uncertainty on the legal market, as the practice of selling cigarettes “under the counter” is equally present in the case of retailers engaging in the sales of illicit cigarettes.

Some of our members have reported to us to have received counterfeit products when purchasing cigarettes in UK corner stores. The display ban might make it easier for vendors of counterfeit cigarettes to hide their illicit products from consumers and law enforcement until the moment of sale.

4. Is the display ban an effective way to protect children and young people from taking up smoking and supporting those who wish to quit?

Answer: No, I don’t think it is.

Given the insufficient amount of evidence on the question of effectiveness and the clear risks that the Consumer Choice Center has listed in an answer on the impact of the display ban, we do not believe that the measures constitute an effective way to protect children and young people from taking up smoking and supporting those who wish to quit.

We believe that harm-reducing products such as e-cigarettes represent an innovative way towards smoking cessation. The UK’s permissive approach to e-cigarettes has shown a positive impact. According to the NHS, between 2011 and 2017, the number of UK smokers fell from 19.8% to 14.9%. At the same time, the number of e-cigarette users rose: almost half of these consumers use e-cigarettes as a means of quitting smoking.

5. Were there any economic losses or gains (for individuals, businesses and wider society) associated with implementing the display ban on tobacco products?

Answer: Yes, I think there were some economic losses or gains.

With a loss in brand awareness and the creation of consumer uncertainty on the legal market, the Consumer Choice Center believes that a loss in consumer choice has been created by the display ban. We also think that this has fuelled the shadow economy and allowed vendors with bad intentions to sell more illegal cigarettes to consumers.


The Tobacco and Advertising (Specialist Tobacconists) (England) Regulations 2010

These regulations apply to the display of tobacco products in Specialist Tobacconists and came into force on 6th April 2015.

These regulations provide exemptions for specialist tobacconists to the general prohibition of the display of tobacco products. They allow tobacco products to be displayed within specialist tobacconists as long as they are not visible from outside the shops. Additionally, the legislation permits tobacco advertising provided it is in, or fixed to the outside of premises of a specialist tobacconist and complies with prescribed conditions.

The full Tobacco and Advertising (Specialist Tobacconists) (England) Regulations 2010 are published on Legilsation.gov.uk.

1. Do you think the display ban of tobacco in specialist tobacconists has helped to reduce the number of children and young people smoking?

Answer: I don’t know if it has or has not.

Current scientific evidence has analysed the situation in regular commercial establishments. The purpose of a specialist tobacconist shop is to sell tobacco, with other items for sale being proportionally secondary. Evidence would need to be gathered in order to make concrete statements on the effect of the display ban in this instance.

2. Do you think the display ban in specialist tobacconists has encouraged and supported adult smokers to quit?

Answer: I don’t know if it has or has not.

Current scientific evidence has analysed the situation in regular commercial establishments. The purpose of a specialist tobacconist shop is to sell tobacco, with other items for sale being proportionally secondary. Evidence would need to be gathered in order to make concrete statements on the effect of the display ban in this instance.

3. Has the display ban within specialist tobacconists had any further impacts not covered in the questions above?

Answer: I don’t know if it has or has not.

Provided the exemptions in the current law surrounding display bans, the case of specialist tobacconists is different from regular retailers and needs to be examined separately.

4. Is the display ban in specialist tobacconists an effective way to protect children and young people from taking up smoking and supporting those who wish to quit?

Answer: I don’t know whether it is or it is not effective.

Provided the exemptions in the current law surrounding display bans, the case of specialist tobacconists is different from regular retailers and needs to be examined separately.

We believe that harm-reducing products such as e-cigarettes represent an innovative way towards smoking cessation. The UK’s permissive approach to e-cigarettes has shown a positive impact. According to the NHS, between 2011 and 2017, the number of UK smokers fell from 19.8% to 14.9%. At the same time, the number of e-cigarette users rose: almost half of these consumers use e-cigarettes as a means of quitting smoking.

5. Were there any economic losses or gains (for individuals, businesses and wider society) associated with carrying out this regulation in the community?

Answer: I don’t know if there were or not economic losses or gains.

Given the insufficient amount of evidence on the question of effectiveness, and the clear risks that the Consumer Choice Center has listed in an answer on the impact of the display ban, we do not believe that the measures constitute an effective way to protect children and young people from taking up smoking and supporting those who wish to quit.

We believe that harm-reducing products such as e-cigarettes represent an innovative way towards smoking cessation. The UK’s permissive approach to e-cigarettes has shown a positive impact. According to the NHS, between 2011 and 2017, the number of UK smokers fell from 19.8% to 14.9%. At the same time, the number of e-cigarette users rose: almost half of these consumers use e-cigarettes as a means of quitting smoking.


The Tobacco and Advertising (Display of Prices) (England) Regulations 2010

These regulations impose requirements on the display of prices of tobacco products in small and large shops and came into force on 6th April 2015.

The regulations permit only three types of tobacco price displays within retailers:

  1. Poster style lists (up to A3 in size) which can be permanently on show but must not exceed 1,250sq centimetres in size
  2. A list including pictures of products, which must not be left on permanent show, but can be shown to any customer aged 18 or over who asks for information on tobacco products sold; and
  3. Price labels, which can be placed on shelving, storage units or tobacco jars. One price label is permitted for each product either on the covered shelf where the product is stored or on the front of the storage unit.

The full Tobacco and Advertising (Display of Prices) (England) Regulations 2010 are published on Legislation.gov.uk

1. Have the restrictions on the display of prices of tobacco products helped reduce the number of children and young people smoking?

Answer: I don’t know if they have or have not.

Current scientific evidence on this matter is scarce. Existing evidence suggests that price display bans can reduce smoking prevalence. However, the same research also suggests that price policies need to be accompanied by certain minimum price rules. Therefore, the immediate effectiveness of price display bans in themselves are questionable and cannot be proven with existing evidence.

2. Have the restrictions on the display of prices of tobacco products helped encourage and support adult smokers to quit?

Answer: I don’t know if they have or have not.

Current scientific evidence on this matter is scarce. Existing evidence suggests that price display bans can reduce smoking prevalence. However, the same research also suggests that price policies need to be accompanied by certain minimum price rules. Therefore, the immediate effectiveness of price display bans in themselves are questionable and cannot be proven with existing evidence.

3. What impact do you think the restriction of display of prices of tobacco products has had on the following:

(a) general population

(b) retailers

(c) manufacturers

(d) other stakeholders (please specify)

Please give reason(s) and evidence for your answers.

Restricting price indications at retail deprives consumers of information about tobacco, a product which can be purchased legally with some restrictions in the United Kingdom. Consumers are vulnerable to be misled by retailers about the product they are buying, and are not afforded the necessary transparency to make an informed purchase.

4. Is restricting the display of prices of tobacco products an effective way to protect children and young people from taking up smoking and support those who wish to quit?

Answer: I don’t know if it is or is not effective.

Current scientific evidence on this matter is scarce. Existing evidence suggests that price display bans can reduce smoking prevalence. However, the same research also suggests that price policies need to be accompanied by certain minimum price rules. Therefore, the immediate effectiveness of price display bans in themselves are questionable and cannot be proven with existing evidence.

We believe that harm-reducing products such as e-cigarettes represent an innovative way towards smoking cessation. The UK’s permissive approach to e-cigarettes has shown a positive impact. According to the NHS, between 2011 and 2017, the number of UK smokers fell from 19.8% to 14.9%. At the same time, the number of e-cigarette users rose: almost half of these consumers use e-cigarettes as a means of quitting smoking.

5. Were there any economic losses or gains (for individuals, businesses and wider society) associated with carrying out this regulation in the community?

Answer: I don’t know if there were economic losses or gains.

Restricting price indications at retail deprives consumers of information about tobacco, a product which can be purchased legally with some restrictions in the United Kingdom. Consumers are vulnerable to be misled by retailers about the product they are buying, and are not afforded the necessary transparency to make an informed purchase.


The Smoke-free (Private Vehicles) Regulations 2015

The regulations came into force as of 1st October 2015 and apply in England. Regulation 5; penalties and discounted amount also applies in Wales.  These regulations make it an offence for:

  • A person to smoke in a private vehicle when someone under the age of 18 is present
  •  A driver not to stop a person smoking when someone under the age of 18 is present.

The regulations are thought to have minimal impact in business. Police Authorities are the designated enforcement offices, with the power to issue Fixed Penalty Notices (FPN) to anyone found to be non-compliant with the law.

The full Smoke-free (Private Vehicles) Regulations 2015 are published on Legislation.gov.uk.

1. Have the Smoke-free (Private Vehicles) Regulations helped prevent people from smoking in vehicles with children?

Answer: No, I don’t think they have.

There is no sufficient amount of evidence in England that would allow for a thorough conclusion on this matter. Existing evidence from Portugal showed that despite widespread support for the regulation, “high smoking prevalence and poor enforcement contribute to low compliance”.

2. What impact do you think Smoke free (Private Vehicles) Regulations have had on: general public, retailers, manufacturers, other stakeholders (please specify)

The Consumer Choice Center believes that though the intent of the legislation is commendable, the costs involved with enforcing the measure thoroughly far exceed the benefits. Law enforcement work on lifestyle matters should be focused on preventing sales of tobacco to young people, and combating illicit trade.

3. Do you believe prohibiting smoking in private vehicles is an effective way to protect children and young people from harms of tobacco and second-hand smoke?

Answer: I don’t know if it is or if is not.

There is no sufficient amount of evidence in England that would allow for a thorough conclusion on this matter. The question is not whether smoking in private vehicles is unhealthy to children and young people from a health perspective, but whether legislation is the correct approach to solving this issue. A prohibition on this matter can also lead to complicated law enforcement situations. A family car that smells of tobacco because the parent smoked in the vehicle prior to picking up children could offset a fine, even though the driver did not break the law.

We believe that education through the schooling system is the correct way to pursue public health objectives.

4. Were there any economic losses or gains (for individuals, businesses and wider society) associated with carrying out this regulation in the community?

Answer: I don’t know if there were economic losses or gains.

There is no sufficient amount of evidence in England that would allow for a thorough conclusion on this matter. Existing evidence from Portugal showed that despite widespread support for the regulation, “high smoking prevalence and poor enforcement contribute to low compliance”.

Increased law enforcement in this area would increase costs for taxpayers.

O futuro do Brasil é digital, mas proibido pelo Governo, analisam Roeder, Giurcin e Freo

Regulamentações impedem avanço

É preciso revogar a ‘lei anacrônica’

Enquanto as novas tecnologias e o comportamento do consumidor criaram um ambiente no qual os serviços digitais convergem e borram as fronteiras entre conteúdo, televisão, streaming e mídia social, a regulamentação ultrapassada da TV por assinatura no Brasil é uma grande barreira ao desenvolvimento do lucrativo mercado de serviços digitais no país. Longe de ser um grande tabu, essa opinião é consensual até mesmo entre representantes de órgãos reguladores.

Regulamentações desatualizadas impedem o Brasil de se tornar competitivo nos mercados digitais globais e privam os brasileiros da liberdade de escolher serviços e conteúdo. Um exemplo dessa regulação tóxica para o telespectador está na Lei de Serviços de Comunicação Audiovisual por Acesso Condicionado (Lei do Seac), que está bloqueando a criação de um mercado digital único, no qual as operadoras poderiam integrar conteúdo (como filmes e séries) e canais para fornecer serviços mais abrangentes para os seus assinantes. Recentemente, por exemplo, a Anatel (Agência Nacional de Telecomunicações) proibiu a Fox de vender a assinatura de seus canais diretamente aos consumidores.

Uma lei bem-intencionada pode agora significar que os brasileiros não terão acesso a séries como The Big Bang Theory ou a transmissões de jogos do Campeonato Brasileiro e da UEFA Champions League na TV a cabo. A explicação: ao vedar que uma mesma empresa seja transmissora e produtora de conteúdos ao mesmo tempo, a Lei do Seac barra a fusão entre a AT&T e a Time Warner no Brasil.

A Anatel entende que existe um limite na fusão entre empresas de telecomunicações e empresas de distribuição e licenciamento de conteúdo audiovisual no mercado de TV por assinatura (e apenas nele). E pior: até mesmo o presidente da Anatel, Leonardo de Morais, acredita que a regulação é –abre aspas– “anacrônica, porque está indo contra a convergência que está se desenvolvendo no novo ecossistema digital”.

Revogada ou alterada, a Lei do Seac é urgente para dar segurança jurídica e clareza ao mercado atual. Mais importante ainda: uma mudança na lei funcionaria como um indicador de que o Brasil está se movendo na direção certa em relação a um futuro digital, atraindo as atenções de investidores e empreendedores.

O comissário de informática do Cade (Conselho Administrativo de Defesa Econômica), Gilvandro Araújo, também sugeriu que a proibição legal de integração vertical entre os segmentos de TV paga deveria ser revogada, dada a evolução das tecnologias nessas indústrias. É necessária uma estrutura regulatória que permita a reformulação dos modelos de negócios na era digital e aceite que o governo não pode prever como os consumidores usarão os serviços digitais. Portanto, a regulamentação precisa ser inteligente e flexível.

O papel do regulador tem que mudar para enfrentar a mudança nas estruturas do mercado da economia digital, que incluirá não apenas serviços de TV por assinatura e streaming, mas também setores muito diferentes, como veículos autônomos e eletrodomésticos. É necessário um novo marco regulatório que reconheça que não é possível prever como os serviços digitais e de mídia serão processados no futuro.

O investimento necessário para estes novos serviços é enorme e não apenas impulsionado pelas operadoras de telecomunicações, mas também pelos desenvolvedores de conteúdo e terceiros. Um mercado único e gigante poderia ser criado no Brasil se o governo, o Congresso e as autoridades decidissem ir na mesma direção de um ecossistema digital integrado. Esse mercado é cada vez mais global e é importante que o Brasil não seja um seguidor, mas um importante player desse setor do futuro.

Para que o país emerja como protagonista desse cenário, é importante que o Congresso e o governo revoguem imediatamente a “lei anacrônica”, que arrisca sufocar o desenvolvimento de serviços e produtos para os consumidores brasileiros. Vamos mudar o futuro digital do Brasil acabando com um entulho regulatório ultrapassado que não cabe na tela do século 21.

Originally published here

Ads are changing, and we should be happy about it

Shifting consumer behavior is changing the world of advertising as we know it, says Bill Wirtz. 

We have come along way in the evolution of the advertising business. The Egyptians used papyrus to make sales messages and wall posters, while the Middle Ages made us transition to town criers and billboards. But even trademarks are much older than many would think – the first trademark dates back to 1300 BC in what is India today. Advertising is simultaneously a reflection of reality and a gross over-exaggeration of consumer expectation – they are flashy, they are gross, they feature musicians and actors. Some ads are so entertaining that viewers tune in to watch them, and they generate massive clicks on video platforms such as YouTube.

Terrestrial TV is a good example of how some service have only been ad-funded for a long time already. With the popping up of online advertising we’ve seen entire newspapers switch gear on their business models. The Guardian – which isn’t exactly the defender of modern capitalism – raises more money online than it does through print. No wonder – online advertising is better for advertisers and consumers. Targeted advertising tells the company that posts the ad if it is actually viewed and clicked on – something that you cannot guarantee in any way on TV or radio. On the video platform YouTube, the company says that you only pay for your ad if people choose to watch it:

“For example, when someone chooses to view your TrueView ad for at least 30 seconds or engages with your ad – like clicking on a call-to-action overlay, a card or a companion banner.”

This certainly applies to myself: as a craft beer enthusiast, Google and Facebook ads constantly tell me about the latest beer releases. Why should I be upset? I get to use a free online service, and in return I get informed about products I like? It would be strange to claim that this is somehow worse than the old days, when I’d be shown things I don’t actually buy, such as women’s hygiene products, or new car tyres.

There is also a common assumption that advertising is a form of brainwashing, constantly bombarding is with things we don’t want until we end up buying it. It poses the ancient old question: can you make someone buy something that they do not want? The American legal scholar Cass Sunstein, who was Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs under the Obama administration published an essay entitled “Fifty Shades of Manipulation“, in which he labels conventional marketing as manipulation. He writes for instance: “It is important to acknowledge that in the commercial realm, manipulation is widespread; it is part of the basic enterprise.”

Yes, when companies advertise health benefits of their products that cannot be proven, then they are intentionally misleading their customers. However, this is miles away from advertising a product as being cool, refreshing, comfortable, or trendy. Are we to define the mere fact that a product is being described by the producer as “good”, as manipulation? Because by this same standard, I could feel equally manipulated by the fact that Sunstein calls a book he edited himself, “relevant” (which he did).

You couldn’t sell anyone a candle as a means of replacing electric bulbs, but you can advertise products in a positive fashion. Of course advertising works, otherwise there would be no point it. However, the assumption that it is bad having ad-based services, and online and offline users being exposed to them, that is retrograde thinking. Many careers, including those of free-lance journalists, have been made possible through modern advertising. Many consumers happier about having specific targeted ads online, as opposed to being bored by their TV.

Advertising is changing because we are changing as consumers.

Originally published here

Was legal ist soll beworben werden dürfen

Die Bundesministerin für Ernährung und Landwirtschaft Julia Klöckner (CDU) will ein Werbeverbot für Tabak- und E-Zigaretten das noch weiter geht als bisherige Vorschläge der Union.

Was wird auf Straßenplakaten heutzutage beworben? Limonade, Schokolade, Lebensversicherungen, Bankkonten, Medikamente, Bier, Autos. Wer falsch mit diesen Produkten umgeht kann sich selbst oder sein Vermögen in Gefahr bringen. Aus diesem Grund werden Alternativen, die mehr Sicherheit bieten ebenfalls beworben: Limonade ohne Zucker, fettarme Schokolade, Versicherungsvergleichportale, Anwälte, die bei Klagen gegen Banken helfen, alkoholfreies Bier, oder Autos mit neuen und besseren Airbags.

Bei Zigaretten ist es gleich. Tabak, der sicherlich ungesund sein kann, darf in Deutschland beworben werden. Verbraucher wissen, dass Tabak ungesund ist, und seit mehreren Jahren wird darauf mit Warnhinweisen und Schockbildern aufmerksam gemacht. Sicherere Alternativen gibt es auch. Wir wissen dass E-Zigaretten (deren Konsum als “vaping” beschrieben wird) 95% weniger gesundheitsschädlich sind als gewöhnliche Zigaretten.

Gerade Großbritannien zeigt, dass eine liberale Dampfpolitik die klassische Zigarette besser abgewöhnt als zum Beispiel Nikotinpflaster. Zwischen 2011 und 2017 ist die Raucherzahl in Großbritannien von 19,8% auf 14,9% gesunken. Gleichzeitig stieg die Zahl der E-Zigarettennutzer. Fast die Hälfte dieser Verbraucher nutzen E-Zigaretten als Mittel zur Rauchentwöhnung. Viele Raucher in Deutschland kennen diese Alternative allerdings nicht. Ihnen kann man mit Werbung einen weniger schädlichen Weg zeigen Nikotin zu konsumieren.

Bundesministerin Klöckner scheint das anders zu sehen. Sie argumentiert für ein Tabak-Werbeverbot das nikotinhaltige E-Zigaretten einschließt. Verboten solle auch Tabakwerbung im Kino vor Filmen ab 18. Dies würde eine radikale Änderung bedeuten, die die Wahlfreiheit einschränkt, und die als Rückschlag der bislang eher liberalen Vaping-Politik in Deutschland gelten würde.

Wenn man in Deutschland mehr “Vaper” sieht als in einigen anderen Ländern, kann es daran liegen, dass Deutschland eines der Länder ist, die bisher einen lockeren Regulierungsansatz für E-Zigaretten verfolgen. Andere liberale Länder sind Schweden, Großbritannien und Tschechien, so der Nanny State Index des Institute of Economic Affairs in London. In Deutschland gibt es keine Regelung für den Konsum von E-Zigaretten in der Öffentlichkeit. Dies macht den Switch von der normalen Zigarette zur elektrischen Alternative einfacher und bequemer, was Leben rettet. Dazu gibt es keine besonderen Steuern auf diese Produkte und keine Regeln für den grenzüberschreitenden Verkauf. Jetzt bei der Werbung einzuknicken wäre eine schlechte Nachricht für Verbraucher.

Die restriktivsten Länder in puncto  E-Zigaretten sind dagegen Finnland und Ungarn, die den Konsum stark besteuern und regulieren. Die Europäische Union selbst hat auch damit begonnen, überstrengere Regeln für das Vaping zu sinnieren. So hat die EU ein begrenztes Behältervolumen, die Größe der Nachfüllpackungen und deren Potenz stärker reguliert. Außerdem wurden “kindersichere Verpackungen” vorgeschrieben und Hersteller regelmäßig überprüft. Regulierungen gibt es also bereits, auch für Kindersicherheit.

Das Argument von Bundesministerin Klöckner dass die Nutzung von E-Zigaretten rückwirkend als “Gateway” zur konventionellen Zigaretten führen kann genießt derweil sehr wenig wissenschaftliche Rückendeckung.

Wissenschaftler sehen das Vaping insgesamt deutlich positiver. Ja, E-Zigaretten enthalten noch immer Nikotin, das süchtig machen kann. Das ist derweil auch der Fall für Koffein. Nikotin selbst verursacht jedoch keinen Krebs. Durch den Wechsel von Zigaretten auf E-Zigaretten reduzieren Vaper ihre Belastung durch viele andere schädliche Giftstoffe im Rauch, einschließlich bekannter Karzinogene, auf eine drastische und schnelle Art und Weise.

Werbeverbote lösen keine Probleme der Volksgesundheit, sie versuchen diese Probleme verschwinden zu lassen. Anstatt Verbraucher über existierende Produkte und deren sichereren Alternativen zu informieren, will die aktuelle Regierungsmehrheit ein bevormundendes System schaffen und  mit Verboten regieren. Wenn sie sich dazu entscheiden, dann werden Tabak und E-Zigaretten nicht ihr letztes Opfer sein.

Originally published here

On alcohol reform, state lawmakers have finally started to listen

Yaël Ossowski is deputy director at the Consumer Choice Center, which advocates for consumer choice and freedom. He’s speaking in general, but, clearly, North Carolina may well be the unavoidable target for his comments.

“In many southern states and beyond, alcohol-control laws are some of the most byzantine and backward on the books. Indeed, many have not changed in the 86 years since the end of Prohibition.

“These laws treat adults like children, stunt economic growth, deprive consumers of better choices, and drastically increase costs for everyday people who just want a drink at the end of a hard day’s work.”

Read more here

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