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Day: March 12, 2020

Tobacco plain packaging policies have been chasing their own tail

Since 2012, many countries have outlawed branding on tobacco products, and yet more are considering taking this step. One of the most recent examples comes from Ukraine, where a group of parliamentarians have pledged to follow the Australian example of banning all brands by plain packaging as a means of reducing smoking rates. But do such policies actually achieve their desired outcomes?

Regardless of noble motives in place, the failures of plain packaging are numerous and evident. In 2012, Australia passed a nation-wide plain packaging decree. The goal was to reduce smoking rates. During the first years of the ban, more young people started to smoke. The smoking rates among Australians in the age range of 12-24-year-olds increased from 12 per cent in 2012 to 16 per cent in 2013. Little or no improvement was made among people aged 30 or older between 2013 and 2016. People aged 40–49 continued to be the age group most likely to smoke daily (16.9%) and the smoking rates among this age group went up from 16.2% in 2013. At the same time, Australia has seen an enormous increase in roll-your-own cigarettes: 26% in 2007, to 33% in 2013 and to 36% in 2016. 

Plain packaging, like taxation, is intended to push consumers away from particular products considered by governments to be harmful, unhealthy and detrimental to the wellbeing of society. What policymakers tend to overlook, though, is that demand for cigarettes is inelastic and thus neither taxes nor branding bans can substantially affect consumer behaviour. From this perspective, plain packaging coupled with extensive bans on cigarette advertising as a policy solution is useless. Do we really care about the branding of sugar or salt? We buy them anyway.

Smoking has no substitutes per se, but thanks to innovation there are healthier ways to consume nicotine. Vaping has been proven to be 95% less harmful than smoking and has been endorsed by international health bodies as a safer alternative. Public Health England, New Zealand Ministry of Health and Health Canada have all endorsed vaping for encouraging smokers to switch. 

Governments that try to outlaw smoking and consumer groups such as the Consumer Choice Center have a shared goal: to uphold public health. We are lucky to live at a time when innovative solutions have made it possible for us to find healthier smoking alternatives. Instead of making futile attempts to fight smoking with taxes and plain packaging, we should create conditions under which smokers can opt for vaping and are encouraged to do so through advertising.

Tobacco plain packaging policies have been chasing their own tail. They simply don’t work and end up becoming another ambitious yet flawed policy that sounds great on paper but doesn’t stand up to scrutiny.


The Consumer Choice Center is the consumer advocacy group supporting lifestyle freedom, innovation, privacy, science, and consumer choice. The main policy areas we focus on are digital, mobility, lifestyle & consumer goods, and health & science.

The CCC represents consumers in over 100 countries across the globe. We closely monitor regulatory trends in Ottawa, Washington, Brussels, Geneva and other hotspots of regulation and inform and activate consumers to fight for #ConsumerChoice. Learn more at consumerchoicecenter.org

Greenpeace: Der Pestizidbericht kommt für Verbraucher teuer

Ein Gastbeitrag von Fred Roeder, Geschäftsführer des Consumer Choice CenterEin neuer Bericht der selbsternannten  Journalismusplattform Unearthed des Umweltverbands Greenpeace vermeldet, dass ein Großteil der an Landwirte verkaufte Pestizide hochgefährlich seien. Doch diese Anschuldigungen sind schwer irreführend und können Verbraucher teuer zu stehen kommen.

Das Projekt hat einen Datensatz von Pestizidverkäufen von insgesamt 21 Milliarden Euro gesammelt und verlautbart, ein Drittel aller verkauften Pestizide seien hochgefährlich. Es verwundert nicht, dass Greenpeace sich nach diesem Bericht für weitere Verbote einsetzt.

Doch dieser Bericht krankt gleich an mehreren Stellen. Man muss immer berücksichtigen, dass Greenpeace lediglich ein Netzwerk von Aktivisten ist und keine wissenschaftliche Institution. Die bekannte Umweltorganisation befürwortet rückschrittliche und unwissenschaftliche landwirtschaftliche Methoden, wie die Agrarökologie.

Die Aussage, dass mindestens ein Drittel aller verwendeten Pestizide in der Landwirtschaft hochgefährlich sind ist leider auch nicht wissenschaftlich begründet, sondern lediglich eine polemische Aussage des internationalen Umweltnetzerks, die sich auf einen fraglichen Datensatz des Pesticides Action Networks (PAN) stützt.

Der berüchtigte Datensatz, der diese drastischen Zahlen zeigen soll, beruht zudem nicht auf offiziellen Zahlen der Weltgesundheitsorganisation (in denen Pestizide wie Glyphosat oder Neonikotinoide nicht als hochschädlich eingestuft werden), sondern eigenen Einstufungen des politisch motivierten PAN. Diese Vereinigung ist ein Sprachorgan der Vertreter der Agrarökologie.

So hat PAN Pestizide, die von der Weltgesundheitsorgansisation nicht beanstandet wurden, einfach als unsicher eingestuft und ist so auf diese hohe Anzahl an unsicheren Pestiziden gekommen. Gleichzeitig behaupten Vertreter der Bio-Lobby, schädliche Pestizide wie Kupfer hätten für Menschen „keinerlei Nachteil“.

Wohlfeile Forderungen – Teure Folgen

Unser Eindruck ist, dass sich die Umweltlobby wünscht, nationale Regierungen würden alle von PAN gelisteten Pestizide verbieten. Dies würde Verbraucher teuer zu stehen kommen. Sichere Pestizide machen Ernteerträge deutlich voraussehbarer und reduzieren Lebensmittelpreise.

Wer Pestizide verbieten will, muss auch ehrlich sein und zugeben, dass Essen teurer wird. Ein komplett unbehandelter Apfel hat nur geringe Chancen zu reifen im Vergleich zu einem mit Pestiziden behandelten Apfel. Man muss sich dann nicht wundern, wenn dieser Apfel das Vierfache im Supermarkt kostet.

Es gibt Chemikalien, die schädlich für uns Verbraucher sein können. Aber diese Analyse sollte von Behörden und nicht von Aktivisten durchgeführt werden. Solche Verbote sollten wirklich nur eintreten, wenn unabhängige Wissenschaftler im Auftrag öffentlicher Institutionen  nachweisen, dass diese Chemikalien bei Menschen oder in der Natur nachhaltige Schäden verursachen können. Ideologisch getriebene Verbote in einigen Mitgliedsstaaten der EU haben bereits Hexenjagden gegen komplett sichere Pestizide wie Glyphosat verursacht.

Zudem können solche Verbote Lebensmittel für Verbraucher deutlich verteuern. Verbraucher und Hersteller brauchen Herbizide, um die Ernte vor eindringlichen Spezien zu beschützen. Wer weniger Pestizide und andere Chemikalien verwenden möchte und gleichzeitig die aktuellen Ernten nicht reduzieren will, muss sich aktiv für neue und innovative Methoden wie Gen-Editing aussprechen. Leider lässt die EU solche Methoden bisher nicht wirklich zu.

Letzter Ausweg CRISPR?

Glücklicherweise debattiert die Europäische Kommission das Genscheren-Verfahren CRISPR für Saatgut und andere Produkte langsam aber sicher zu öffnen und dadurch nachhaltig den Einsatz von Pestiziden verringern zu können. Nachhaltig bedeutet, dass die grüne Gentechnik es erlaubt, weniger Chemikalien in der Landwirtschaft einzusetzen – ohne den Ertrag verringern.

Beispiele aus anderen Teilen der Welt zeigen leider auch, dass Landwirte, denen der Einsatz von Pestiziden verboten wird, diese oft auf dem Schwarzmarkt erwerben und deutlich unsicherere Chemikalien verwenden, um Schädlinge von ihren Feldern fernzuhalten. So führt die Anti-Pestizid-Politik zu mehr Gift im Essen.

Statt Landwirte in die Illegalität zu drängen, brauchen wir innovative Methoden, mit denen sie für eine wachsende Weltbevölkerung mehr Lebensmittel mit weniger Chemikalien herstellen können. Unwissenschaftliche Kampagnen helfen hier niemandem. Wir hoffen nun, dass die Europäische Kommission dem Fortschritt die Türen öffnet.

Originally published here.


The Consumer Choice Center is the consumer advocacy group supporting lifestyle freedom, innovation, privacy, science, and consumer choice. The main policy areas we focus on are digital, mobility, lifestyle & consumer goods, and health & science.

The CCC represents consumers in over 100 countries across the globe. We closely monitor regulatory trends in Ottawa, Washington, Brussels, Geneva and other hotspots of regulation and inform and activate consumers to fight for #ConsumerChoice. Learn more at consumerchoicecenter.org

The War On Single Use Plastic Is Sillier Than Ever

Coronavirus (Covid-19) has dominated the news cycle for weeks now. Infection rates are rising, and entire countries like Israel and Italy have enacted severe measures to stop the spread of the virus. That same intensity hasn’t crossed the Atlantic Ocean to Canada, but the private sector has enacted measures to help stop the spread. Coffee giants like Tim Hortons and Starbucks have suspended their “bring your own cup” programs in response to Covid-19. Tim Hortons has taken things one step further and cancelled their iconic Roll Up The Rim program. Even chains like Bulk Barn have halted their container program to help prevent additional exposure.

Despite the rapid spread of Covid-19, environmental groups like Environmental Defence are still waging their war on single use plastic. Environmental Defence, in January, released their wall of shame for companies they feel have not done enough to reduce plastic pollution in Canada. Their list includes major brands like Loblaws, Tim Hortons, and Starbucks. 

The first major flaw in Environmental Defence’s war on plastic is that Canadians are not significant polluters when it comes to plastic marine litter. Up to 95 per cent of all plastic found in the world’s oceans comes from just 10 source rivers, which are all in the developing world.

Canada on average, contributes less than 0.01 MT (millions of metric tonnes) of mismanaged plastic waste. In contrast, countries like Indonesia and the Philippines contribute 10.1 per cent and 5.9 per cent of the world’s mismanaged plastic, which is upwards of 300 times Canada’s contribution. China, the world’s largest plastics polluter, accounts for 27.7 percent of the world’s mismanaged plastic. Canada, when compared to European countries like England, Spain, Italy, Portugal and France, actually contributes four times less in mismanaged plastic. The only European countries on par with Canada are the significantly smaller Sweden, Norway and Finland. Plastics bans might sound productive in terms of plastics pollution, but the evidence doesn’t suggest that Canada is actually a significant contributor for mismanaged plastic, which means that a Canadian ban will do little to actually reduce plastic pollution.

The second issue with Environmental Defence’s war on plastic is that some of their policy suggestions would actually do more harm to the environment. For Loblaws, the group has “shamed” them for not banning all single use plastic bags in their stores. Conventional thinking suggests that banning single-use plastic bags will result in people using reusable bags, and that this reduction in plastic use will have a positive impact on the environment. Research from Denmark’s Ministry of the Environment actually challenged that conventional wisdom when it sought to compare the total impact of plastic bags to their reusable counterparts. 

The Danes found that alternatives to plastic bags came with significant negative externalities. For example, common paper bag replacements needed to be reused 43 times to have the same total impact as a plastic bag. When it came to cotton alternatives, the numbers were even higher. A conventional cotton bag alternative needed to be used over 7,100 times to equal a plastic bag, while an organic cotton bag had to be reused over 20,000 times. We know from consumer usage patterns that the likelihood of paper or cotton alternatives being used in such a way is incredibly unlikely. These results were also largely confirmed with the U.K. government’s own life-cycle assessment, which concluded that these alternatives have a significantly higher total impact on the environment.

The last reason why Environmental Defence’s approach is misguided is that it flat out ignores viable alternatives for dealing with plastic waste. There are simple solutions available to us that don’t involve heavy-handed bans. For those single-use products that are not recyclable and otherwise end up in landfills, we could follow Sweden’s lead, and incinerate that waste. Doing so creates a power source for local communities, while capturing airborne toxins, limiting toxic runoff, and significantly reducing the volume of waste.

Good public policy should address a real problem and should make a meaningful impact on the said problem. Unfortunately, the suggestions made by Environmental Defence would promote higher impact alternatives, and put consumer safety at risk. 



The Consumer Choice Center is the consumer advocacy group supporting lifestyle freedom, innovation, privacy, science, and consumer choice. The main policy areas we focus on are digital, mobility, lifestyle & consumer goods, and health & science.

The CCC represents consumers in over 100 countries across the globe. We closely monitor regulatory trends in Ottawa, Washington, Brussels, Geneva and other hotspots of regulation and inform and activate consumers to fight for #ConsumerChoice. Learn more at consumerchoicecenter.org

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