Month: September 2020

Open Letter on EU Airlines

Dear Director-General Mr. Hololei,

On behalf of the Consumer Choice Center, the consumer advocacy group representing and empowering consumers in the EU and globally, we would like to express our deep concerns about the Commission’s intention to extend the waiver of the “use-it-or-loseit” rule for the entire 2020-2021 winter season. In our view, such a move would be extremely protectionist, distortive, and would do more harm than good.

The overwhelming uncertainty around the second wave of coronavirus, travel restrictions, and a significant drop in demand are some of the crucial issues the aviation industry has faced. It is therefore in the interest of consumers, airports, and the industry itself to arrive at a mutually satisfactory solution. What we need in these times is to encourage more connectivity and not less. Extending the waiver will likely keep flight connections and destinations way below the pre-COVID times. Now might be the right time for new entrants into the market to connect people across Europe and the world.

The current waiver of the requirement to fly 80% of granted slots or lose them is set to expire on October 24th. Multiple associations have called on the Commission to extend the waiver “to ensure that the flying of empty planes is avoided” so that “flights are operated in the most sustainable
way possible.” However, the extension would create the situation in which the biggest airlines will get a chance to monopolise the slots making it impossible for the smaller ones to enter. This explains why low-cost airlines such as Wizz Air oppose the extension of the waiver calling it anti-competitive and such that “would hinder rather than help the recovery of the EU aviation industry and, therefore, European economies.”

Airport slots are scarce, and that is why they are so valuable and have to be put to the most efficient use. Though pursued out of noble motives, the Commission’s waiver policy implies that the airlines are the sole owner of the slots.

The airport slot ownership shouldn’t be static. On the contrary, it should constantly rotate between airlines to guarantee the most efficient allocation of the facilities and to encourage responsible use of airports. The “use-it-or leave-it” rule is, in this sense, fair and just, and should be sustained at all

Flying has changed our lives in many ways. Now that consumers all across Europe have got a taste of life without travelling, they would want to fly more not less once the pandemic is over. The European Commission should focus on ensuring that they have a chance to choose between multiple airlines keeping in mind their budget constraint. In order to achieve this,
both big and low cost companies have to be treated equally and compete for airport slots.

It is still not too late to preserve competition and consumer choice. With that in mind, the Consumer Choice Center calls on the Commission to reconsider formalising the extension for the entire 2020-2021 winter season. On our end, we would be keen to elaborate further on our
view and help the Commission find the most optimal solution.

New Jersey Ranked One of the Worst State in the Union for Vaping Regulations

TRENTON, NJ – In an index published Tuesday by the Consumer Choice Center, the state of New Jersey has been named one of the worst U.S. states for vaping.

The Consumer Choice Center’s 2020 US Vaping Index categorizes and ranks each state based on its consumer-friendly regulatory approach to vaping products.

The study authors, David Clement and Yael Ossowski, North American Affairs Manager and Deputy Director of the Consumer Choice Center, said recent actions on flavored vaping products sunk it to the bottom of the list.

The full graph is below:


“New Jersey is far behind all the other states because of its flavor ban and its exorbitant taxation on vaping products,” said Clement, North American Affairs Manager at the Consumer Choice Center. “Our research indicates New Jersey’s policies deter adult smokers from turning to vaping, which could vastly improve and prolong their lives.”

New Jersey joined the states of New York, California, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island as the worst in the nation with a grade of “F”, while states like Virginia, Colorado, Texas, and Maryland each received “A” scores for more consumer-friendly vaping regulations.

“What lawmakers should note is that a number of states are providing a positive framework of regulation for vaping that boosts consumer choice while contributing to public health by encouraging smoking cessation,” said Ossowski. “Excessive flavor bans, taxes, and prohibitions on online commerce grow the black market sector and harm consumers who want less harmful alternatives to smoking.

“If states want to innovate in 2020 and provide adult smokers with an alternative that is less harmful, they should look to reform their state laws to better accommodate this new technology that is helping millions,” said Ossowski.

Read the full US Vaping Index Here

Originally published here.

Pentingnya Hak Kekayaan Intelektual Untuk Menjaga Kerajinan Tradisional

Kenaekaragaman suku dan budaya di Indonesia telah melahirkan kerajinan tradisional yang sangat beragam. Berbagai kerajinan ini memliki bentuk yang sangat beragam, mulai dari furniture, motif pakaian, hingga perhiasan. Tidak sedikit pula, berbagai motif dan desain dari berbagai karya tersebut merupakan sesuatu yang sudah turun temurun dan dibuat oleh pekerja kerajinan tradisional tersebut secara turun menurun selama bergenerasi-generasi.

Kerajinan tradisional di Indonesia ini tentu merupakan sesuatu yang sangat penting untuk dilestarikan. Menjaga kelestarian kerajinan tradisional tidak hanya penting demi menjaga produk budaya tersebut, tetapi juga penting agar memastikan para seniman kerajinan tradisional di Indonesia bisa mendapatkan manfaat, termasuk manfaat finansial, dari karya yang mereka buat.

Meskipun mungkin tidak terlihat besar, namun industri yang berkaitan dengan kerajinan tradisional di Indonesia telah menyumbang cukup banyak bagi perekonomian negara. Pada tahun 2017 misalnya, industri kerajinan yang paling populer, yakni batik dan kain tenun misalnya, nilai ekspor kedua produk tersebut sebesar USD151,7 juta atau 2,1 triliun rupiah (Antaranews, 05/05/2017).

Indonesia sendiri sudah memiliki payung hukum untuk melindungi hak kekayaan intelektual bagi warganya, termasuk juga para pekerja kerajinan tradisional. Undang-Undang Nomor 28 tahun 2014 tentag Hak Cipta misalnya, merupakan salahs atu instrumen hukum yang bertujuan untuk melindungi para pekerja kreatif terhadap karya yang mereka buat.

Dalam Pasal 40 Undang-Undang Hak Cipta, dijelaskan bahwa Hak Cipta yang dilindungi di Indonesia meliputi berbagai karya seni, sastra, dan ilmu pengetahuan. Beberapa bentuk karya seni yang dilindungi tersebut diantaranya adalah karya seni rupa seperti lukisan, ukiran, patung, seni pahat, karya seni terapan, dan karya seni motif sepeti kain batik, yang sangat digemari oleh banyak orang. Masa berlaku Hak Cipta ini juga cukup lama, yakni hingga 70 tahun dari sejak pembuat karya tersebut tutup usia (Jogloabang.com, 2019).

Undang-Undang Hak Cipta secara eksplisit juga memberi sanksi tegas bagi orang-orang yang melakukan pelanggaran Hak Cipta atas karya orang lain. Dalam Pasal 113 misalnya, dituliskan dengan jelas bahwa mereka yang melakukan pelanggaran Hak Cipta akan dipidana paling lama 1 tahun atau denda 100 juta rupiah. Bila orang yang melakukan pelanggaran Hak Cipta tersebut memperoleh manfaat ekonomi dari karya yang ia bajak , maka sanksinya diperberat menjadi 3 tahun dengan denda maksimum 500 juta rupiah.

Tidak hanya pelakunya saja, mereka yang memfasilitasi perdagangan barang-barang yang melanggar hak cipta milik orang lain juga akan dikenai sanksi tegas, seperti pemilik toko yang menjual barang-barang bajakan yang melanggar hak cipta orang lain misalnya. Dalam Pasal 114, dijelaskan sanksi bagi orang yang mengelola tempat perdagangan barang-barang yang melanggar hak cipta akan dipidana denda maksimum 100 juta rupiah.

Sudah adanya kerangka hukum yang melindungi hak kekayaan intelektual seperti hak cipta, seperti yang tercntum dalam Undang-Undang No. 28 tahun 2014 tersebut tentu merupakan sesuatu yang harus kita apresiasi. Salah satu yang menyebabkan perlindungan atas hak kekayaan intelaktual produk-produk kerajinan tradisional adalah potensi ekonomi yang bisa didapatkan dari karya-karya tersebut.Malalui perlindungan hak kekayaan intelektual terhadap karya-karya tradisional di Indonesia, maka para pengrajin dan para pekerja yang bergerak di industri kerajinan tradisional dapat menikmati manfaat ekonomi dari karya yang mereka buat tersebut.

Tidak jarang, bagi pengrajin dan pekerja industri kerajinan tradisional, satu-satunya pendapatan mereka adalah dengan menjual karya-karya yang mereka buat kepada konsumen, baik konsumen domestik maupun mancanegara.

Sayangnya, penegakan terhadap perlindungan hak kekayaan intelektual para pekerja kerajinan tradisional ini masih lemah. Bila kita pergi ke pertokoan di kota-kota besar misalnya, atau ke pertokoan yang terletak di tempat-tempat yang menjadi destinasi wisata misalnya, kita bisa menemukan dengan mudah berbagai karya tradisional bajakan yang tentunya melanggar hak cipta orang lain. Produk-produk bajakan ini umumnya dijual dengan harga yang jauh dibawah produk-produk asli, dan tentunya kualitasnya juga tidak sebaik produk-produk aslinya.

Banyaknya pembajakan terhadap karya-karya kerajinan tradisional ini tentu merupakan hal yang harus kita lawan bersama. Selain itu, masih minimnya kesadaran dari pelaku industri kreatif, termasuk juga mereka yang bergerak di kerajinan tradisional, untuk mendaftarkan karyanya, juga merupakan salah satu persoalan besar yang harus segera diatasi. Untuk itu, kampanye publik kepada para pelaku industri kreatif, termasuk mereka yang bergerak di industri kerajinan tradisional merupakan sesuatu yang sangat penting.

Dan juga, dampak negatif dari pembajakan karya-karya kerajinan tradisional juga bukan hanya manfaat ekonomi yang akan didapatkan oleh para pengrajin dan pembuat kerya tersebut menjadi berkurang. Hal ini tentu juga akan merusak citra dari karya tradisional tersebut, khususnya di dunia internasional.Sebagaimana yang sudah dijelaskan di paragraf sebelumnya, karya-karya kerajinan tradisional bajakan yang tidak asli umumnya memiliki kualitas yang sangat jauh dibawah dengan karya yang asli. Bila produk-produk bajakan ini sampai di tangan konsumen, terutama konsumen mancanegara, maka tentu bukan tidak mungkin citra dari karya tersebut menjadi tidak baik. Hal ini tentu adalah sesuatu yang harus kita hindari dan kita cegah.

Sebagai penutup, kerajinan tradisional Indonesia, baik yang berupa motif pakaian seperti batik, ukiran, dan lain-lain merupakan kekayaan bangsa kita yang sangat penting untuk kita jaga dan lestarian. Salah satu langkah yang sangat penting untuk melindungi karya-karya tersebut adalah melalui perlindungan hak kekayaan intelektual seperti hak cipta untuk mencegah pencurian dan pembajakan karya yang dilakukan oleh pihak-pihak yang tidak bertanggung jawab.

Originally published here.

In the midst of an energy crisis, California to ban gas vehicles

With the stroke of a pen, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed an executive order this week banning the sale of emissions-producing cars by the year 2035.

Effectively, this means no gas-powered cars will be for sale in the nation’s most populous state in less than 15 years. It’s not only the most populous state but the state with the most cars overall.

If the 15 million cars registered in California were their own country, they’d be the 73rd largest by population.

That means no prospect for a 2035 Camaro, Mustang, or even Honda Civic powered by gasoline on the streets of California in the near future.

Newson says climate change is why this moratorium is needed. Heatwaves, wildfires, and faltering energy supply to millions of Californians.


How will this impact ordinary consumers?

This ban is concerning for two reasons.

First, California’s market is the largest in the United States. That means any and all legislation they make impacts consumer products sold across the country. We’ll call that the California Spillover Effect.

No manufacturer wants to design or create items to sell at scale across the entire nation only to have to retool them for California. That means many larger suppliers decide to comply with California’s burdensome regulations as a rule. That’s without the say of the populations and legislatures of other states, even if the laws are unconstitutional and economically backward.

(Many officials are already stating the order will be easily struck down by the EPA or the courts)

It is a fact that, over time, our cars are getting more efficient. Engineers and scientists are combining different elements to maximize fuel efficiency in internal combustion vehicles in order to reduce emissions, lower costs, and provide better cars for drivers.

This has been a market and consumer-led revolution. Consumers demand more efficient cars that won’t force them to the gas pump every two days.

Those preferences have signaled to carmakers that they need to provide quality vehciles with better gas mileage and they have delivered. In most cases, the mileage efficiency goes beyond the mandates imposed by California and the EPA in Washington.

Regardless, with an executive order outlawing gas-powered cars, that means California drivers will be forced to switch to using electric cars wholesale. That will mean much higher prices that many people just won’t be able to afford. That will harm lower-income individuals who still depend on transportation by car for their work and home lives.

What the state of California is effectively doing here is endorsing a particular technology — electric vehicles — that may even be obslete by 2035.

This rebukes the principle of technology neutrality, the idea that the government should not pick winners and losers in the tech sphere. Not only will there be better and more efficient solutions by the year 2035, but government has a poor track record of defining which technological solutions will win consumer favor in the end.


This is also concerning because California is in the midst of an energy crisis. Rolling blackouts are the norm, large wildfires threaten electricity infrastructure, and persistent water mismanagement has led to many areas with less than adequate water supply.

Energy policy that can provide stable power to millions of homes is a challenge in California, and a mandate to switch the entire vehicle fleet to electric will put even more pressure on energy supplies, driving up costs for ordinary consumers who may not even own electric cars in the future.

There is no question that electric cars are more economical on the road, but they are also less reliable for longer drives, maintenance, and will still depend on the fossil fuel economy for electric charges.

Most, if not all, electric cars draw their power from the energy grid, we’re still relying on coal power to provide energy for the charge. That’s anything but an environmental panacea.

Further, the resources needed to build and power electric cars, including the mining of precious minerals, still contributes to greenhouse gas emissions.

By the time an electric vehicle has rolled off the assembly line, it has already been responsible for more than 25,000 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions, more than twice that of a traditional internal combustion vehicle.

As political scientist and economic Bjorn Lomborg explains in the video below, over the lifetime of a modern electric car, it will only be responsible for three to five tons less of CO2, including production, energy consumption, and scrapping.

(Also check out our interview with Bjorn Lomborg on Consumer Choice Radio on all things environmental policy and smart solutions for the world)

If California wants to reduce emissions, there are consumer-friendly ways to do so.

Reforming zoning laws to encourage development and reduce the need to commute long distances for workers and consumers is one step.

Encouraging innovation by entrepreneurs to come up with alternative fuels is another. And so is the embrace of nuclear technology, fracking for natural gas, and Compressed Natural Gas as a fuel for public transportation and governmental fleet vehicles, as is done in other countries.

The path toward a cleaner and more prosperous planet is not through bans, restrictions, and piecemeal technology ensorsements. It’s through innovation, consumer demand, and creative solutions.

Nigeria’s Alcohol ban is an attack on consumers’ freedom, small business owners

Nigeria’s ban on alcohol recently made the rounds in the news on local media outlets. The announcement disclosed in a statement by the National Agency for Foods and Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC) director-general, Prof. Christianah Mojisola Adeyeye, stated that the Federal government had issued directives targeted at phasing out the sale and consumption of alcohol in sachets and polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles. This means that the regulatory agency will no longer register new products in sachet and small volume PET or glass bottles above 30 per cent Alcohol by Volume (ABV) and also mandated alcohol companies to drive down production by at least 50% enforceable for January 31, 2020. This article highlights the effect of the ban on small business owners and the limitation to the freedom of consumer choice. 

This partial ban on alcohol seems to only be targeted at a specific set of people – Low income earners. The dominant consumers of alcohol in sachets and small bottles are low income earners, just as the predominant retailers of alcohol in this packaging are small businesses who own small kiosks or even hawk their wares. In fact, the reason big companies often go the route of selling alcohol in sachets and small packs is because that is the only way low income earners can afford them. Shutting out this access is in fact seeking to erase the end of one market. This prohibitionist approach effectively cuts off many low-income earners from participating in the alcohol market. This is likely to cause economically disadvantaged people to buy alcohol in excess of what their finances ordinarily allow as affordable options are being taken out of the market. It essentially signals to low income earners to buy more alcohol since the only option they are left with is to buy alcohol in bigger packaging. Also, by making the sale of alcohol in sachets illegal, there is also the possibility of certain individuals taking advantage of the demand for sachet alcohol by illegally apportioning alcohol in sachets and other smaller containers under potentially unhygienic conditions.

Beyond the suffocation of economic activities at the base of the pyramid, an outright ban conflicts with the freedom of consumers to choose and the importance of markets, this is another example of the Nigerian government’s overarching involvement in the choices of Nigerians. The agency had highlighted that uncontrolled access and availability of high concentration alcohol contribute to substance and alcohol abuse in Nigeria transitioning into a negative impact in the society. One of the best approaches to curbing substance use has been used in the tobacco industry. Without banning its usage, members of the public are made aware of the consequences of tobacco use and allowed to make their own decisions. 

The Nigerian government has become increasingly overreaching in its responsibilities by taking away decisions that should ideally be left to consumers. Usually, when a group of people make decisions for others, they do this with their own bias and without much knowledge of the motives of the eventual consumers. The truth is that consumers are usually aware of the risks and benefits associated with products they use before consumption. However, the most ideal approach should be to make any new information about certain products publicly available so that consumers can have more information that can help them make informed decisions. Due to the absence of a perfect product, consumers often always juxtapose the risks and benefits associated with each product they consume with alternatives available. While certain persons will embrace certain risks, others are less likely to do so or may simply choose preferable risks. Banning products reduces the alternatives for users, limiting the available solutions to their problems as everyone who makes a purchase of an item is looking to solve an important problem.

Banning the sale of alcohol as well as instructing companies to deliberately lower their production below their capacities and operate at 50 percent efficiency irrespective of market demand is detrimental to an economy. It is also a direct affront on the freedoms that consumers should have in an open market. 

A vaping flavour ban sets back public health

Vaping is under attack, and that is bad news for public health and smoking cessation, argue David Clement, Michael Landl and Yael Ossowski.

Vaping has been proven to be an effective harm reduction tool for adults who are trying to quit traditional cigarettes.

It reduces the harms posed by smoking by decreasing or removing the combustion of tobacco altogether, which is why in 2015, Public Health England declared vaping was 95% less harmful than combustible tobacco and began recommending current smokers switch to electronic cigarettes.

Countries like Canada and New Zealand followed their lead helping to save millions of lives. In fact, vaping achieved, in a short period of time, what public health authorities hoped to accomplish in a far greater time span: fewer people smoking traditional cigarettes. 

Despite vaping’s efficacy as a harm reduction tool, it has become a target for politicians and activists, with new regulations, restrictions and bans popping up around the world. Right now the prime target for legislators is flavoured vaping products.

Unfortunately, there are efforts to ban or restrict the sale of flavoured vapes in countries such as the United States and the Netherlands, with several others following their lead. If flavour bans go global, it would be disastrous for public health.

New research from the Consumer Choice Centre and the World Vapers’ Alliance shows that flavours in vapes are essential for helping smokers quit. In our recent policy paper entitled, ‘Why Flavours Matter’ we were able to show that banning flavours would have a profoundly negative effect on society, pushing smokers back to cigarettes or to the dangerous black market.

Two-thirds of current vapers are using some form of flavoured liquids. Vapers prefer flavours over tobacco flavoured e-cigarettes, mainly because flavours don’t remind them of the taste of cigarettes.

Because of this, researchers at Yale concluded that vapers who use flavours are 2.3 times more likely to quit smoking than those using tobacco flavoured e-cigarettes. It is reasonable to assume that restrictions and bans on flavours will significantly limit the usefulness of vaping as a cessation tool and will drive vapers back to cigarettes, which is nothing worth celebrating.

“While proposed flavour bans are well-intentioned, they have disastrous outcomes. Legislation on vaping flavours must take the facts of smoking cessation and harm reduction into account, and we urge legislators against the widespread implementation of such bans”

Our research looked the impact a flavour ban would have across nine countries. If enacted, in the US alone, 7.7 million vapers could switch back to smoking. In the Netherlands, a quarter of a million vapers could revert back to smoking if nothing is done to stop flavour bans.

In Germany, 1.3 million people could switch back to cigarettes with a flavour ban in place. That’s about the same number of people as the population of Munich. In France, 1.6 million smokers could re-emerge if a flavour ban is in place. That’s nearly the population of Paris.

Another option for vapers who prefer flavours is to resort to the black market. Flavour bans could balloon the illegal market for vapes. Because of the ban on flavoured vaping products in Massachusetts, the market for illicit products is expected to reach $10bn.

Flavour bans have driven some to create vaping liquids in their own homes without any legal oversight, developing unregulated and potentially dangerous products. These illegal sales are outside a state’s tax regime, which means t they lose revenue they otherwise would have acquired if these products were legal.

While proposed flavour bans are well-intentioned, they have disastrous outcomes. Legislation on vaping flavours must take the facts of smoking cessation and harm reduction into account, and we urge legislators against the widespread implementation of such bans.

Banning flavours would disproportionately harm smokers who are trying to quit, which runs against the goals of public health agencies. But good intentions in themselves, do not matter; only good outcomes.

Originally published here.

Vaping emerging as smoking alternative

Many smokers in Bangladesh are choosing vaping as a medium of quitting smoking as they consider it a safe alternative to cigarettes.

Physicians in the UK and USA recommend vaping as a quitting tool. 

According to a study conducted by a US-based organisation, the Consumer Choice Center, over 6.23 million smokers in Bangladesh can potentially quit cigarettes and if right measures are taken.

The Center, which works for consumer preferences, conducted the study on vaping in 61 countries. They tried to get an idea about the future expansion of relatively safe e-cigarettes market by reviewing the current regular and irregular vaping rates.

Reviewing the situation of Bangladesh, the organisation said that if e-cigarettes are systematically encouraged by following methods that of the UK, 25 percent smokers may quite conventional cigarettes. 

According to the report of World Health Organisation (WHO) in 2018, Bangladesh has 24.9 million smokers.

According to the research, more than 196 million smokers in 70 countries will be interested in quitting conventional cigarettes if e-cigarettes are encouraged.  

The highest number of smokers may decrease in China. Bangladesh ranks sixth out of 61 countries in this list of smoking quittances.

Organizations who are working in this sector believe that a significant reduction in smoking would have a positive effect on the global health situation. 

According to an article published by the Royal College of Physicians in the UK, an e-cigarette contains a mixture of nicotine, propylene glycol or vegetable glycerine and flavours. 

Although e-cigarettes contain nicotine, however nicotine does less harm than conventional cigarette chemicals (such as tar and carbon monoxide).

Doctors believe that vaping may be one of the most effective ways to quit smoking and suggest that the government take the issue positively, because it gradually reduces the body’s need for harmful chemicals.

Originally published here.

How to feed 11 billion people?

If the EU wants to fight global hunger, it needs to stop food elitism.

Ottawa is getting ready to meddle in your newsfeed and streaming services

David Clement writes about Ottawa’s plan for draconian new regulation of your newsfeed, social media, and even Netflix.

Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault announced last week the Trudeau government wants to enforce Canadian content regulations for platforms like Spotify and Netflix, and is looking at Australian-style regulations requiring platforms like Facebook to compensate news outlets whenever a news outlet’s link is shared there.

Both of these proposed regulations are silly.

For Canadian content, the Trudeau government seems hell-bent on applying outdated regulations to innovative tech platforms like Netflix and Spotify. These platforms are successful because they provide consumers what they want in terms of video and audio content. It seems quite paternalistic for the government to interfere, and require that these companies produce Canadian content, regardless of whether there is consumer demand for it.

This is problematic because CanCon regulations forcibly tell consumers that they want, or are required, to consume Canadian content, and then force companies to create content based on that false assumption. I, of course, want Canadian artists and content creators to do well and thrive, but I also know that the Canadian media/entertainment space is mature enough to stand on its own two feet. It would be better for Canadian success to be a result of meeting consumer demands and not the result of a government decree. 

Supporters of CanCon regulations say these regulations are required to “protect Canadian culture and the people who produce it”, but who exactly are we protecting Canadian culture and its producers from? If Canadian content isn’t successful in the domestic market, that is because it isn’t appealing to the demands and wants of Canadian consumers. It is backwards for the government to meddle to try and shield Canadian creators from the wants of domestic consumers.

If legislators want to actually listen to the demands of Canadian consumers, they’d know that Canadians like Netflix and Spotify just how they are, and that intervention isn’t needed. Plus, we already have a taxpayer funded outlet to protect Canadian culture and its creators: the CBC. Is the $1 billion the CBC receives not enough to provide a home for Canadian content? Do we really need to be forced to pay for Canadian content as both taxpayers, and in the private sector? I don’t think so.

Beyond content, the heritage minister’s comments regarding social media platforms having to pay news outlets to share web links are just as misguided. In an interview with Radio-Canada, Minister Guilbeault suggested that Canada is looking at following Australia’s lead, and creating regulations that would force a platform like Facebook to pay news outlets every time one of their web links is shared. That means that when you or I share an article, let’s say from the Toronto Star, Minister Guilbeault thinks that Facebook should be forced to compensate the Star, despite the fact that Facebook is acting as a free lead generator. This genuinely leaves me scratching my head as to why this is a good idea. Media outlets make their money in two ways: advertising dollars linked to views or through subscriptions. Being able to freely share a news story on social media drives traffic to these news outlets, which is exactly how they make their advertising money and solicit subscribers. 

It is bizarre for the federal government to mandate that Facebook compensate newspapers for driving web traffic to their website and sending them free leads. This desire to have the government further protect the media industry becomes even more strange when you consider that the industry is already subsidized by taxpayers at the tune of $600 million dollars.

And if Australia has shown us anything, following through with this type of legislation would be disastrous for consumers, for newspapers, and for society at large. In response to the regulations down under, Facebook stopped allowing for users to share news links on their platform. 

This hurts consumers because it means that news won’t be available on social media at all, where most of us consume it. This is a net negative for society because less news availability ultimately means poor media literacy, which certainly isn’t good. And lastly, this is terrible for newspapers because it eliminates their ability to reach online audiences via social media, which reduces traffic and their ability to generate subscribers.

Rather than enforce outdated regulations on Netflix and Spotify, legislators should listen to Canadian consumers. In regards to the offer of additional regulations, with all due respect Minister Guilbeault, thanks, but no thanks.

David Clement is a columnist for the Western Standard and the North American Affairs Manager with the Consumer Choice Center

Originally published here.

Backing #Vaping to beat #Cancer

The upcoming European Union’s Beating Cancer Plan is a historic chance to improve public health in Europe. Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the EU. 1.3 million people die from cancer each year in the EU and 700,000 of those deaths are associated with smoking. Despite these terrifying numbers, approximately 140 million Europeans are still smoking. The European Union is right to tackle the disease with a holistic approach, writes Michael Landl (pictured).

A comprehensive approach needs to include prevention and harm reduction. While it is important that lawmakers do everything, they can to prevent people from starting smoking, it is equally important to support current smokers in their quest to quit. Including e-cigarettes (vaping) in the EU Beating Cancer Plan will help millions of European who are struggling to quit smoking and consequently prevent many deaths associated with cancer from smoking.

E-cigarettes contain liquid which is heated and turned into vapour. There is no tobacco nor tar in e-cigarettes and many of the toxins in cigarettes are not present in e-cigarettes. In 2015, Public Health England declared that vaping is 95% less harmful than smoking and began recommending that current smokers switch to electronic cigarettes. Countries like Canada and New Zealand followed their lead and have helped save millions of lives. In fact, these policies promoting vaping arguably achieved more in a short period of time than what lawmakers tried to accomplish for years: fewer people smoking cigarettes. 

We know that abstinence is not as effective as alternatives, such as vaping. According to a 2019 study from Queen Mary University London of 100 smokers trying to quit cold turkey, only three to five succeed – while according to the same study, vaping is even more effective for smoking cessation than nicotine-replacement therapy, like patches or gums.

Despite the weight of evidence, a number of governments have considered new restrictions on vaping, rather than make it more accessible. While often well intentioned most newly proposed regulations, such as flavour liquid bans or higher taxes, would disproportionately harm smokers who are trying to quit. This runs directly against the goal of beating cancer.

The EU Beating Cancer Plan is a massive opportunity to ramp up the fight against smoking. Lawmakers should include vaping in the plan as a harm reduction tool to prevent cancer. The European Union’s institutions and governments should follow the lead of countries like the United Kingdom, Canada and New Zealand and encourage the use of vaping as a less harmful alternative for adult smokers.

If the European Union is serious about improving health, we must back vaping to beat cancer.

About the World Vapers’ Alliance

The World Vapers’ Alliance (WVA) amplifies the voice of passionate vapers around the world and empowers them to make a difference for their communities. The alliance partners with 19 groups representing vapers worldwide and represents individual vapers. Michael Landl, the WVA’s director, is an experienced policy professional and a passionate vaper.

Originally published here.

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