Month: November 2020

Biden Has an Opportunity to Improve Trade With Europe

The Europeans killed a potential deal during the Obama years, but the world is a different place now.

Trade relationships with Europe have been painstakingly petty for the last four years. In 2019, the U.S ended the WTO’s appellate body by refusing to appoint new members, which meant that the world’s arbiter on trade had had a more difficult time opposing new tariffs—and new tariffs there have been. The ongoing trade war has targeted a wide range of products on both sides, from Harley-Davidson motorcycles to French wine and Kentucky bourbon. Whenever Trump would target a new product, the EU would reciprocate with new tariff implementations or hikes.

What ended up targeting American blue jeans-lovers in Estonia and Bordeaux wine connoisseurs in New York began as a much less symbolic tariff on steel and aluminum. In Donald Trump’s protectionist mindset, he believed he was doing U.S manufacturing a favor, but in reality he punished those businesses that rely on imported industrial goods for their production. During his administration, many Republicans who had held dear the principle of free trade seem to have forgotten their own position. Perhaps his upcoming departure from the White House will allow them to remember it.

Under the Obama administration, the U.S had pushed for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). The free trade agreement would have created one of the largest trade zones, with the (then) 28 member states of the European Union and the United States. The EU’s executive body, the European Commission, said that TTIP would boost the EU’s economy by $142 billion, the U.S economy by over $100 billion and the rest of the world by $118 billion.

Despite strong American advocacy in Europe for the agreement, the European Union itself stalled and then walked away. Environmentalists held massive demonstrations throughout the EU, claiming that TTIP would undermine European food standards and distort the marketplace by reducing prices. They made a safe bet on the skepticism of Europeans toward American food, and on consumer nationalism. The Anglo-Saxon approach to business does not play well in countries like France, where labor regulations thoroughly protect workers, and the flexibility and entrepreneurship of Americans is seen as obsessively commercial. This played right into the hands of those industries that considered American competition as a scourge.

When Barack Obama left office, TTIP negotiations were not just at a standstill—they were unofficially dead. The election of Donald Trump worsened trade relationships with Europe, but TTIP had been killed by Europeans, not Trump.

That said, political institutions in Europe currently have every reason to be warmer toward trade relations with the U.S. The trade war has been difficult for everyone, and Europe understands that it leads nowhere. After four years of Donald Trump, Joe Biden should present a real alternative based on free trade, not just case-by-case mini-agreements (such as a recently signed deal on free lobster trade). Crucially, if the U.S reaches a comprehensive trade agreement with the United Kingdom (which officially leaves the European Union’s single market at the end of this year), then the EU has no choice but to prevent a loss of its competitive edge. 

Unfortunately, Joe Biden has not quite grasped this window of opportunity but has supported the European Union on the issue of Brexit. Meddling in European affairs, Biden claims that he will not sign any FTA with the U.K. unless Boris Johnson’s government respects the withdrawal agreement’s so-called Northern Ireland protocol. In essence, if the U.K. reestablishes a border (or something resembling a border) between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, then the U.S will not be a willing trading partner. Both the U.K. and the EU have struggled to find an agreement that allows for the U.K. to leave the EU and make its own internal market decisions, while avoiding cross-border checks on goods between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. The Good Friday Agreement of 1998 ended most of the violence of the Troubles (between those loyal to the United Kingdom and those who wanted to unite the country with the Republic of Ireland), by promising not to establish hard border infrastructure. To separatists, this signaled a willingness to align the island more closely with the Republic, while loyalists remained under the laws of the United Kingdom. The UK’s exit from the EU might threaten this agreement, and Joe Biden has taken the side of the EU.

Outside of supporting an odd sense of Irish-American pride, how exactly does such a move benefit the United States? While it certainly upsets the British, it would be mistaken to believe that continental Europeans in Paris and Berlin will suddenly jump out of their seats to hand American businesses access to European consumers just because we’ve turned our backs on trade with the U.K.

TTIP would have allowed mutual access to public markets, slashed tariffs, and reduced bureaucratic regulations on everything from clothes to medicine and cosmetics. Many customs duties on products between the U.S and Europe are so high that it effectively kills any trading relationships. For Americans wanting to observe this phenomenon in real time: Follow a European entering an American supermarket for the first time. Choices!

There are also tariff differences depending on goods and destinations. For instance, EU tariffs on American cars are high, while American tariffs on European cars are relatively low. Meanwhile, certain types of peanut tariffs are so high (at a rate of 138 percent) that they never find their way on the European market. In essence, U.S-EU trade is a jungle of tariff distinctions that pile an avalanche of red tape on any type of producer. TTIP intended to scrap nearly all tariffs across the Atlantic, yet the will of the EU at the time was trumped by skepticism toward American agricultural products.

Many of the most political decisions in the European Union are taken because of a sense of urgent necessity. In the European Parliament, you will hear speakers claim that the EU needs to be more centralized, because despite being the largest single market in the world, it is also a declining market. If Joe Biden wanted to save Obama’s (and his own) trade policy legacy, he could do so on one hand by pressuring Europeans to understand that competition is at their doorstep, but also by showing them what the TTIP has to offer.

The more the U.S opens itself to free trade from all over the world, the more it will convince hesitant partners like the EU to drop subsidies to large industries, and allow small businesses not to put “Europe first” at a large price, but choose the best product, including from the United States.

Originally published here.

The Sun: Halting targeted advertising kills industries and dumbs down tech

When we hear gripes about social media, one of the top concerns is targeted advertising.

On any given day, this type of segmented advertising is used by the local hair salon searching for new clients, an environmental group asking for signatures on a petition and a city council candidate seeking your vote. These are all important and vital for our civil society.

These groups pay to get your attention on social media because it achieves something essential: to generate business, to advocate for social causes or win elections. This is facilitated by the unique platforms where we post and share information.

And because social media is usually free, accepting this advertising allows platforms to grow and scale to continue providing value to users. That is the balance that most of us understand. Some people are mildly annoyed, but others prefer advertising that caters to their interests.

Unfortunately, that distinction has given fodder to activists and politicians who want to ban this style of advertising to limit the ability to spread information on social media.

The latest scandal du jour, as one can guess, revolves around the 2020 elections and how political forces targeted would-be voters on social media.

Using Twitter and Facebook proved effective for both the Biden and Trump campaigns, up until both platforms halted political advertising. Hundreds of millions of dollars were spent and tens of millions of voters were reached.

In a hearing on Tuesday, senators on the Judiciary Committee excoriated Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg for their proprietary algorithms that drive engagement and sell ads.

Senators took turns grinding their axes, lodging complaints about content moderation, targeted advertising and market power.

The policy remedies discussed have so far been two-pronged, either using antitrust laws to break up the social media firms or rewriting Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act that currently treats online outlets as platforms rather than publishers, not making them liable for the content shared on their pages.

In either case, politicians in Washington get it wrong.

Action in either direction would end up being harmful to both consumers and small businesses, and dumb down the great innovative tech sector that is the world’s envy.

Social media platforms have grown to be popular because they empower users to speak their minds and be profitable because they enable small businesses and groups to find current and future customers. That is a win-win for society.

If targeted advertising is dismantled online as some hope, it would severely restrict the options for entrepreneurs and social groups to find supporters and clients.

That may sound good in theory, but in practice it means stopping advertising options for environmental groups, restaurants hoping to deliver food during continued lockdowns and more.

Regulating innovative technology because of serious legal and health concerns is warranted but stopping information and unique algorithms that give us what we want is a step too far.

We must face the fact that social media has become the new marketplace where we seek information. If we legislate and ban specific methods of sharing information on products and services online, this reduces consumer choice and chokes off entire industries.

This harms everyone.

More than harmful, it is also based on the false assumption that adults are not intelligent enough to understand or interpret advertising. This is both paternalistic and wrong.

Of course, ads are annoying for those who do not want them. And, luckily, the same technology that created targeted micro-advertising has also spawned ad-blocking browser plugins, Virtual Private Networks, and private browsing modes that are simple and easy to use for those who want them.

Thanks to technology, everything we do online has gotten more efficient, more effective and less costly. It has empowered nonprofits like mine, given a voice to millions of entrepreneurs and offered untold value to users around the world.

As advocates for a free and open internet, we must continue to uphold innovation and ensure it is protected from those who wish to limit its potential.

Originally published here.

Report: Vaping is a gateway out of smoking

Contrary to what many detractors say, vaping is less harmful than smoking. ― Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 23 — A 2020 report by an American advocacy group, the Consumer Choice Center, debunks the common belief that “vaping is the gateway to smoking for adults and adolescents.”

Titled “Vaping and the Gateway Myth”, the report highlighted findings that vaping is 95 per cent less harmful than smoking.

It also presents a viewpoint that vaping actually helps conventional smokers “divert from traditional and harmful tobacco consumption.”

The report also emphasises that vaping products were designed to offer smokers a safer way to consume nicotine, with the target being adult smokers.

The British National Health Service has already said nicotine, on its own, is relatively harmless and adds that “almost all of the harm from smoking comes from the thousands of other chemicals in tobacco smoke, many of which are toxic.”

The Consumer Choice Center report also cites a study conducted by University College London in 2019 which analysed data from over 50,000 smokers from 2006 to 2017.

It was found that vaping products were positively associated with the quit success rate; every one per cent rise in the use of vaping products associated with a 0.06 per cent increase in the quit success rate.

In a speech at the European Parliament in February this year, Joachim Schüz, head of Environment and Radiation at WHO’s cancer research agency said vaping is “no way as harmful” as smoking cigarettes and could even help heavy smokers quit.

What’s more, the Malaysian tobacco industry sees the new “vaping tax” to be introduced in 2021 on all electronic cigarette devices including vape and vaping liquids as a positive one as this means vaping products will be regulated.

In Malaysia, the number of smokers has dropped by 1.5 percentage points in 2019 according to the Ministry of Health’s National Health and Morbidity Survey 2019.

While it is unclear if this can be attributed to a switch to vaping, the same report shows five per cent of Malaysians use vaping products.

The effectiveness of vaping as a smoking cessation tool seems to be encouraging and efforts to frame vaping as a gateway to smoking do not seem to stand up to close scrutiny.

Originally published here.

Halting Targeted Advertising Kills Industries and Dumbs Down Tech

When we hear gripes about social media, one of the top concerns is targeted advertising.

On any given day, this type of segmented advertising is used by the local hair salon searching for new clients, an environmental group asking for signatures on a petition and a city council candidate seeking your vote. These are all important and vital for our civil society.

These groups pay to get your attention on social media because it achieves something essential: to generate business, to advocate for social causes or win elections. This is facilitated by the unique platforms where we post and share information.

And because social media is usually free, accepting this advertising allows platforms to grow and scale to continue providing value to users. That is the balance that most of us understand. Some people are mildly annoyed, but others prefer advertising that caters to their interests.

Unfortunately, that distinction has given fodder to activists and politicians who want to ban this style of advertising to limit the ability to spread information on social media.

The latest scandal du jour, as one can guess, revolves around the 2020 elections and how political forces targeted would-be voters on social media.

Using Twitter and Facebook proved effective for both the Biden and Trump campaigns, up until both platforms halted political advertising. Hundreds of millions of dollars were spent and tens of millions of voters were reached.

In a hearing on Tuesday, senators on the Judiciary Committee excoriated Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg for their proprietary algorithms that drive engagement and sell ads.

Senators took turns grinding their axes, lodging complaints about content moderation, targeted advertising and market power.

The policy remedies discussed have so far been two-pronged, either using antitrust laws to break up the social media firms or rewriting Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act that currently treats online outlets as platforms rather than publishers, not making them liable for the content shared on their pages.

In either case, politicians in Washington get it wrong.

Action in either direction would end up being harmful to both consumers and small businesses, and dumb down the great innovative tech sector that is the world’s envy.

Social media platforms have grown to be popular because they empower users to speak their minds and be profitable because they enable small businesses and groups to find current and future customers. That is a win-win for society.

If targeted advertising is dismantled online as some hope, it would severely restrict the options for entrepreneurs and social groups to find supporters and clients.

That may sound good in theory, but in practice it means stopping advertising options for environmental groups, restaurants hoping to deliver food during continued lockdowns and more.

Regulating innovative technology because of serious legal and health concerns is warranted but stopping information and unique algorithms that give us what we want is a step too far.

We must face the fact that social media has become the new marketplace where we seek information. If we legislate and ban specific methods of sharing information on products and services online, this reduces consumer choice and chokes off entire industries.

This harms everyone.

More than harmful, it is also based on the false assumption that adults are not intelligent enough to understand or interpret advertising. This is both paternalistic and wrong.

Of course, ads are annoying for those who do not want them. And, luckily, the same technology that created targeted micro-advertising has also spawned ad-blocking browser plugins, Virtual Private Networks, and private browsing modes that are simple and easy to use for those who want them.

Thanks to technology, everything we do online has gotten more efficient, more effective and less costly. It has empowered nonprofits like mine, given a voice to millions of entrepreneurs and offered untold value to users around the world.

As advocates for a free and open internet, we must continue to uphold innovation and ensure it is protected from those that wish to limit its potential.

Originally published here.

Fight mycotoxin contamination with modern technology

Every consumer will know this problem: you come home from a long trip but the fruits, vegetables, and yoghurt are still in the fridge. “Expiry dates are just an industry trick to sell more food” is a thought that leads some to disregard the mould that has formed on all of these items over time, or even to consider that the food is therefore healthy.

According to a study by the University of Copenhagen, many consumers believe that mold is a sign of “naturalness”. “What is objectively referred to as dirty is less frightening to us than apples which never rot. Similarly, having dirt under one’s nails has become a sign of health”, says Kia Ditlevsen, associate professor of UCPH’s department of food and resource economics.

However, the reality is very different. Mould carries mycotoxins, which are dangerous to human health, and in some cases, can be deadly. These toxic metabolites are divided into subcategories, namely aflatoxins, ochratoxin A (OTA), fumonisins (FUM), zearalenone (ZEN), and deoxynivalenol (DON – also known as vomitoxin), which can all be ingested through eating contaminated food, including dairy products (as infected animals can carry it into milk, eggs, or meat). 

In a home fridge, mould can develop through bad storage — the electricity went off for long and the cooling chain was interrupted, or direct sun exposure for a long period of time — or simple expiry of the product. 

Most disconcertingly, up to 28% of all liver cancers worldwide can be attributed to aflatoxins, and its immunosuppressant features leave humans weakened against other diseases. The features have been known to modern science since the turn of the century. 

In Africa, this is a deadly epidemic. Aflatoxin exposure is more deadly than exposure to malaria or tuberculosis, with 40% of all liver cancers in Africa being related to it. Mycotoxin contamination can occur through inadequate food storage, but more importantly, it occurs in the absence of the correct crop protection measures, including chemicals.

In modern agriculture, we prevent most of the exposure to mycotoxins by using fungicides. However, chemical crop protection products have been seen with increasingly critical eyes. All too often, those calling for bans of XYZ chemical pretend that farmers ought just use “an alternative”, but all too regularly these alternatives do not exist, or have, as with the example of genetic engineering, been outlawed already.

Gene-editing technologies such as CRISPR-Cas9 can help solve farm safety concerns such as the ones raised by fungi. Fungal pathogens, such as Fusarium proliferatum, which attacks diverse crops, including wheat, maize, rice, asparagus, date palm, garlic, onion, can be studied and better understood using this technology. In the case of Fusarium oxysporum, which befalls both plants and animals, gene-editing can disrupt the genes of interests. A different method of genetic engineering, known as gene-silencing (arrived to through a method known as RNA interference), can create aflatoxin-free transgenic maize. Particularly for developing nations, this would mark a breakthrough improvement of consumer health and food security.

However, if the European Union keeps its current legislation on genetic engineering, and goes even further by exporting these rules and regulations to development aid partners in Africa, then these innovations will not be of use to consumers domestic and abroad. In order to tap into the potential of the gene-revolution, we need to change outdated legislation and Europe and usher in a new century of biotechnology.

We owe it to ourselves.

Wielka Brytania bije kolejne rekordy w walce z nałogiem tytoniowym

Najnowsze badania YouGov zlecone przez Action on Smoking and Health w Wielkiej Brytanii dowiodły, że 58% dorosłych waperów to byli palacze a odsetek tych, którzy również są palaczami tytoniu, sukcesywnie spada i w tym roku osiągnął 38%.

Ponadto, 60% dorosłych użytkowników e-papierosów zadeklarowało, że głównym powodem, dla którego przerzucili się na vaping była troska o własne zdrowie.

Sceptycy próbują podważać badanie przedstawiając e-papierosy jako świeży produkt kierowany do konsumentów tytoniu otwierając w ten sposób nową drogę do uzależnienia.

Zupełnie innego zdania jest Maria Chaplia współpracowniczka ds. Europejskich w Consumer Choice Center, która mówi: „Tak jak substytuty cukru pomagają ludziom zmniejszyć spożycie cukru, tak e-papierosy pomagają ludziom rzucić palenie”, „Nie obwiniamy substytutów cukru za zwiększone spożycie cukru, ale zrobienie tego w przypadku e-papierosów wydaje się dopuszczalne”.

Pani Chaplia zwraca w swojej wypowiedzi na dość istotny aspekt, mianowicie zamiast skupić się na walce i ucieczce od tytoniowego uzależnienia za wszelką cenę, rozważmy zasadność stosowanych metod. Pamiętajmy, że co roku na świecie umiera 8 milionów palaczy dlatego każda szeroko rozpowszechniona metoda na zerwanie z nałogiem tytoniowym jest bardzo ważna i ma znaczenie.

Originally published here.

Piano Ue contro il cancro, il Parlamento dà spazio alla sigaretta elettronica

Pietro Fiocchi (FdI), membro della Commissione parlamentare che sta stilando un rapporto per il piano, assicura che vi sarà un paragrafo sul vaping.

Il rapporto che lo Special Committee on cancer del Parlamento europeo consegnerà alla Commissione come contributo per il Piano contro il cancro includerà un paragrafo sulla sigaretta elettronica. A rivelarlo è stato l’europarlamentare italiano Pietro Fiocchi (Fratelli d’Italia), durante un incontro organizzato questa mattina dalla sede a Bruxelles della Camera di commercio britannica, incentrato proprio sul Beating Cancer Plan dell’Unione europea. Sottotitolo dell’evento, prevenire è meglio che curare e proprio sugli strumenti e le best practice in materia di prevenzione verteva l’intervento di Fiocchi. Il parlamentare italiano, che è relatore ombra della Commissione speciale sul cancro dell’Europarlamento ha aggiunto che “è importante che il paragrafo sul vaping contenga le cose giuste”, cioè presumibilmente che tratti la sigaretta elettronica come strumento di riduzione del danno da fumo.

Lo scorso ottobre, Fiocchi aveva presentato una interrogazione alla Commissione europea, chiedendo se nel piano europeo di lotta contro il cancro si stesse prendendo in considerazione la riduzione del danno provocato dal tabacco. “Può la Commissione – si leggeva nel testo della interrogazione – riferire se sta valutando la possibilità di promuovere l’adozione di misure preventive, come ad esempio strategie di riduzione dei danni? Come intende affrontare l’importanza della riduzione dei danni nel piano di lotta contro il cancro, ad esempio raccomandando politiche che incoraggino l’uso di prodotti a base di nicotina a rischio ridotto o campagne di sensibilizzazione per un consumo responsabile di alcol? Durante il processo di consultazione pubblica, la Commissione si è rivolta a gruppi di riflessione in rappresentanza dei consumatori che hanno beneficiato di metodi di riduzione del danno, come l’uso della sigaretta elettronica?”.

Ora lo stesso europarlamentare riferisce che, almeno per quanto riguarda il contributo del Parlamento, la riduzione del danno in generale e la sigaretta elettronica in particolare avranno uno spazio. Le parole di Fiocchi hanno raccolto il plauso dell’associazione World Vapers’Alliance, che da mesi conduce a Bruxelles una battaglia su questo tema. “Ci sentiamo estremamente incoraggiati dall’impegno dell’onorevole Fiocchi – ha dichiarato il direttore Michael Landl – per includere la sigaretta elettronica nel rapporto del Parlamento sul cancro. I parlamentari europei hanno la possibilità di prevenire migliaia di casi di cancro in tutta l’Unione europea, aiutando i fumatori a passare alla sigaretta elettronica”. “Ora è fondamentale – auspica Landl – che i colleghi di Fiocchi seguano il suo esempio e sostengano il vaping”.

Originally published here.

Putting a price on the European Green Deal

A Commission impact assessment lays out what happens if the EGD is implemented, and it does not look good, writes the Consumer Choice Center’s Bill Wirtz.

The European Green Deal (EGD) is one of the cornerstones of the Von der Leyen Commission. It is hardly controversial to say that European policymakers have responded to public pressure with more environmentally friendly policies, which have, in turn, created heated debates over many other EU policies, ranging from CAP reform to the EU-Mercosur free trade agreement or the reform of the Emissions Trading System.

The EGD is ambitious – it seeks out to reach zero net emissions by 2050, with “economic growth decoupled from resource use“. It intends to do so through structural reform in the field of agriculture, decarbonising the energy sector, and laying out new taxation schemes to avoid unsustainable imports into Europe. However, the appropriate question is: at what cost? The additional expenditure for the European Union per year (between 2020 and 2030) will be a whopping €260bn. But it does not stop there.

At the end of September, the European Commission released an impact assessment that answers this question. This document has largely remained uncommented by Commission officials, or in the broader media landscape, which is surprising because it contains crucial data points. For once, in most models laid out in the assessment, GDP is expected to shrink. This is in close relationship with declines in employment, consumption, and exports. The latter will be particularly devastating for countries that heavily rely on export industries, which employ people with limited re-employment opportunities. As service industries – such as the financial sector – will be less affected, this will widen the opportunity gap in the labour market.

“We should be transparent about the effects of the European Green Deal, especially if it implies a worsened situation for consumers”

Another weight on existing inequalities will be rising energy prices for consumers. As the German energy shift (Energiewende) has shown already, a quick change to renewable energy sources, arrived through subsidisation programmes, has sharply increased consumer energy prices. The Commission’s impact assessment recognises that, though in a way that puts into question their consideration of the importance of social sustainability: “A drawback from a social perspective are the higher energy prices for consumers.” Calling it a “drawback” hardly does the immense cost for low-income consumers any justice.

A common narrative in the debate surrounding the EGD is that environmental policy shifts enable job and wealth creation. EGD Commissioner Frans Timmermans likes to talk about “green jobs”, referring to the opportunities created by the Commission’s plans. Instead of the COVID-19 crisis giving him pause, Timmermans says that “our response to the COVID-19 crisis allows us to save jobs not for years but for decades to come, and create new jobs. We may never again spend as much to reboot our economy – and I sure I hope we will never again have to.” Will he reconsider now that the impact assessment of his own Commission revealed three weeks after his speech that the cost for this strategy is significant? You would be courageous to hold your breath.

Given the current situation surrounding COVID-19, as GDP contraction expectations approach those of the 2008 financial crisis, we cannot adopt these kinds of policies without proper consideration. Some will claim that the price is that the noble goal justifies the means, but in any way, we should be transparent about the effects of the European Green Deal, especially if it implies a worsened situation for consumers. We owe it to the principles of transparency and accountable governance.

Originally published here.

Apakah Vape yang Mengandung Perasa Mempengaruhi Seseorang Untuk Merokok?

Apakah Vape yang Mengandung Perasa Mempengaruhi Seseorang Untuk Merokok?

Vape atau rokok elektonik saat ini merupakan produk yang sudah digunakan oleh jutaan konsumen, terutama di kota-kota besar. Di berbagai kota, dengan mudah kita bisa menemukan pertokoan yang menjual produk-produk rokok elektonik dengan berbagai merek.

Penggunaan vape juga terus meningkat, dari tahun ke tahun. Di Indonesia sendiri misalnya, pada bulan Juli tahun 2020 lalu, diperkirakan ada sekitar 2,2 juta pengguna rokok elektonik dan 5.000 penjual vape di seluruh Indonesia (Kontan.co.id, 21/07/2020).

Namun, fenomena ini juga bukan berarti tidak menimbulkan pro dan kontra. Tidak sedikit pihak-pihak yang menyatakan sangat keberatan dan mengkritik fenomena meningkatnya penggunaan vape. Salah satu alasan yang kerpa digunakan adalah, rokok elektrik merupakan produk yang dapat menjadi pintu masuk bagi rokok tembakau konvensional yang dibakar.

Oleh karena itu, banyak pihak yang cemas dan khawatir terhadap fenomena meningkatnya pengunaan vape, khususnya di kalangan anak-anak muda. Dikhawatirkan, akan semakin banyak populasi perokok di kalangan anak muda yang disebabkan oleh penggunaan rokok elektrik, yang tentunya akan semakin banyak menimbulkan penyakit kronis seperti kanker dan serangan jantung.Lantas, apakah pandangan tersebut sesuatu yang tepat? Apakah vape merupakan gateway drugs bagi penggunaan rokok konvensional?

Berdasarkan laporan dari lembaga kesehatan pemerintah Britania Raya, Public Health England, rokok elektrik atau vape terbukti 95% jauh lebih aman daripada rokok konvensional yang dibakar (Public Health England, 2015). Hal ini dikarenakan, ada lebih dari 7.000 zat kimia yang terdapat di rokok konvensional, di mana 69 dari zat kimia tersebut merupakan zat yang berbahaya dan dapat menimbulkan kanker.

Hal ini jauh berbeda dengan komponen yang berada di dalam vape atau rokok elektrik. Bahan dasar yang digunakan dalam cairan rokok elektrik adalah propylene glycol (PG) dan vegetable glycerin (VG), yang merupakan zat umum yang digunakan untuk memberikan perasa dalam berbagai makanan, salah satunya adalah kue (American Lung Association, 20/08/2019).

Sama halnya dengan rokok konvensional, cairan yang dipakai di dalam rokok elektrik juga mengandung zat nikotin. Kandungan zat nikotin yang terdapat di dalam rokok elektrik ini sering dianggap sebagai penyebab utama yang membuat rokok elektronik dapat menimbulkan berbagai penyakit kronis, seperti penyakit jantung, dan rokok elektrik berpotensi besar akan membuka pintu bagi para penggunanya untuk menggunakan rokok konvensional yang dibakar.Namun pandangan tersebut adalah sesuatu yang keliru. Berdasarkan badan penyedia layanan kesehatan Britania Raya, National Health Service (NHS), nikotin, meskipun zat yang berpotensi dapat menimbulkan kecanduan, namun relatif aman. Faktor utama yang membuat rokok konvensional sangat berbahaya bagi kesehatan dan dapat menimbulkan berbagai penyakit kronis seperti kanker dan penyakit jantung adalah zat-zat beracun lainnya yang terkandung di dalam rokok tersebut, dan bukan pada nikotinnya (National Health Service, 2019). Pandangan bahwa rokok elektrik merupakan pintu masuk untuk rokok konvensional juga merupakan sesuatu yang salah besar. Sebaliknya, justru melalui rokok elektrik atau vape, para perokok justru menjadi sangat terbantu untuk menghentikan kebiasaan mereokok mereka yang sangat berbahaya bagi kesehatan.

Di Amerika Serikat misalnya, berdasarkan laporan dari National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine pada tahun 2018, terdapat kaitan yang erat antara menurunnya populasi perokok di Amerika Serikat dengan meningkatnya penggunaan vape di negeri Paman Sam tersebut (National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, 2018). Studi yang dipublikasikan oleh New England Journal of Medicine pada tahun 2019 juga menunjukkan bahwa penggunaan vape dua kali lipat lebih efektif dibandingkan dengan produk-produk pengganti nikotin lainnya yang digunakan untuk membantu perokok untuk berhenti merokok (The New England Journal of Medicine, 2019).

Joachim Schüz, yang merupakan ketua dari lembaga riset kanker milik World Health Organization (WHO), The International Agency for Research on Cancer, untuk bagian lingkungan dan radiasi, mendukung penggunaan vape untuk membantu perokok untuk berhenti merokok. Schüz menyatakan bahwa rokok elektronik jauh tidak lebih berbahaya dibandingkan dengan rokok konvensional (Consumer Choice Center, 2020).

Sebagai penutup, kebijakan pelarangan vape atau kebijakan yang membatasi pilihan rokok elektrik yang dapat dikonsumsi oleh konsumen merupakan kebijakan yang sangat berbahaya. Hal ini akan semakin mempersulit para perokok untuk berhenti merokok, yang tentunya juga akan semakin sulit untuk mereduksi berbagai penyakit yang sangat berbahaya yang disebabkan oleh penggunaan dan konsumsi rokok seperti kanker dan penyakit jantung.

Perlu ditekankan bahwa, saya dalam hal ini bukan mengadvokasi seseorang untuk mengkonsumsi nikotin atau menggunakan produk-produk rokok elektrik. Namun, kesalahpahaman mengenai dampak rokok elektronik serta manfaat yang dapat diberikan oleh produk tersebut kepada konsumen adalah hal yang sangat penting untuk dikoreksi dan diluruskan.

Tidak ada manfaatnya bagi para otoritas kebijakan kesehatan publik atau pemerintah untuk menakut-nakuti warganya terhadap produk-produk rokok elektrik. Hal ini justru sangat berbahaya karena akan membuat para perokok enggan untuk berpindah ke rokok elektrik yang jauh lebih aman, yang dapat membantu mereka untuk hidup lebih sehat dan terhindar dari berbagai penyakit kronis.

Originally published here.

Departemen Kesehatan Pennsylvania Mengadakan Pertemuan Virtual Mengatasi Risiko Vaping

Departemen Kesehatan Program Narkoba dan Alkohol berkolaborasi di bawah kepemimpinan Menteri Kesehatan, Rachel Levine, mengadakan sebuah pertemuan virtual membahas tentang mengatasi risiko vaping bersama dengan Gubernur Demokrat, Tom Wolf.

“Ribuan orang di Pennsylvania menjadi korban produk tembakau dan vaping yang dipasarkan secara terang-terangan dan tidak menyadari dampak kesehatan yang signifikan seperti kecanduan nikotin dan penyakit terkait paru-paru. Saya bangga melihat para ahli, kelompok advokasi, dan otoritas lokal berkumpul untuk membahas tantangan dan menemukan peluang untuk mengatasi epidemi vaping,” kata Levine.

Dalam pertemuan ini memang tidak ada presentasi khusus mengenai pengurangan dampak buruk. Acara tersebut hanya diskusi bagaimana para ahli menyikapi kekhawatiran di antara produk bebas rokok dan pendukung pengurangan bahaya tembakau yang akan dihadapi di masa depan.

Consumer Choice Center, menerbitkan whitepaper yang mengindeks status vaping di semua 50 negara bagian di Amerika Serikat. Untuk menentukan peringkat setiap negara bagian, pusat tersebut menciptakan sistem penilaian yang mempertimbangkan peraturan seperti pembatasan rasa, pajak nikotin, tembakau, dan kebijakan penjualan produk vaping secara online.

Menurut sistem poin negara bagian, 0 hingga 10 poin yang diterima memberikan nilai “F” untuk negara bagian. 11 sampai 20 poin adalah nilai “C”. Negara-negara dengan skor antara 21 dan 30 telah menerima nilai “A”. Pennsylvania, berdasarkan indeks vaping Consumer Choice Center, diberi peringkat dengan nilai “C”.

Originally Published here.

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