Month: December 2020


Spieglein, Spieglein an der Wand, wer hat den schönsten Bahnhof im ganzen Land? Ein Voting des Online-Reisemagazins Travelbook hat nun eine Antwort auf diese Frage geliefert: Leipzig darf sich mit dem Titel “Schönster Bahnhof Deutschlands” schmücken.

Der im Jahr 1915 eröffnete Hauptbahnhof im Leipziger Zentrum ist nicht nur bei Reisenden beliebt – auch die Einwohner der Messestadt schätzen den Kopfbahnhof mit Einkaufszentrum zum Shoppen und Schlemmen.

Schönheit liegt zwar bekanntlich im Auge des Betrachters – doch 11.982 Stimmen können nicht irren! Vom 28. Oktober bis zum 30. November dieses Jahres durfte an der Travelbook-Umfrage entsprechend teilgenommen werden – insgesamt wurde mehr als 53.000 Mal abgestimmt.

Auf dem zweiten Platz landete mit 8315 Stimmen der Hauptbahnhof Hannover. Den dritten Platz belegt der Hauptbahnhof Berlin mit 7225 Stimmen.

Insgesamt standen zwölf Bahnhöfe zur Auswahl.

Übrigens: Der Hauptbahnhof Leipzig erreichte mit dieser Wahl nicht zum ersten Mal eine Top-Platzierung in einem Ranking!

Originally published here.

Ignore company sob stories and raise tobacco tax, Putrajaya told

PETALING JAYA: A former health ministry official has urged the government to start increasing tobacco taxes again, saying it is the most effective way to discourage smoking.

Tobacco control expert Dr Zarihah Mohd Zain, who helped draw up smoking regulations in Malaysia, urged the government to increase the tax five-fold.

She said the government should ignore the “sob stories” of cigarette-makers. The companies had fooled the government into not increasing the tobacco tax for the past five years, in order to counter the sale of cheaper, smuggled cigarettes, she said.

“If we start increasing the tax again, it would lead to higher prices of tobacco products, a good way to reduce demand for smokers,” she told FMT.

“For the last five years that the government did not increase the tax, did it manage to solve the smuggling problem? Not at all,” she said. “In fact, that is just how the tobacco industry fooled the government.”

Zarihah said she believed the main cause of black market cigarettes was corruption among enforcement officers who allowed the illegal products to enter the country.

She said the government should simultaneously end the sale of duty-free cigarettes and start investigating enforcement officers for corruption.

Zarihah said that although the tobacco industry generates revenue for the country, the government is also burdened to cover the cost of smoking cessation programmes. “It is just not worth it. The government needs to realise that this industry is a revenue drainer for Malaysia,” she said.

Health minister Dr Adham Baba told the Dewan Rakyat yesterday that the government may consider using cigarette and tobacco duties to fund anti-smoking programmes. He said there were an estimated 4.8 million smokers in the country, amounting to 21% of the population.

The Federation of Malaysian Consumers Associations has welcomed higher tobacco taxes to cover healthcare costs as practised elsewhere and recommended by the World Health Organization.

“Tax collected should be used to provide smoking cessation programmes. Mortality and sickness due to tobacco smoke is a drain on healthcare cost and national productivity,”said Fomca tobacco control co-ordinator Muhammad Sha’ani Abdullah.

In July this year, a global consumer advocacy group Consumer Choice Centre warned that the sale and purchase of smuggled cigarettes — which can cost only a third of the price of the legal stuff — will continue to grow barring changes to local tobacco taxes.

CCC said black market cigarettes had captured 60% of the market, catering to an estimated 5 million smokers in Malaysia.

A total of 22,000 smokers had been treated under the smoking cessation programme so far, and the government spent RM2.8 million on the programme last year alone.

Originally published here.

To beat cancer in Europe, let’s give vaping a chance

The European Union’s Beating Cancer plan is our once-in-a-generation opportunity to tackle cancer by embracing innovation and consumer choice.

By following the footsteps of the UK, France, Australia, and New Zealand, we can further achieve our goals by endorsing vaping as a harm reduction tool with incredible potential to help reduce health-associated risks. By doing so, the EU could ensure a better future for smokers.

It has been stressed many times that vaping has been proven to be 95% less harmful than smoking. And yet, despite the sound evidence at hand, anti-vaping rhetoric persists and continues to win the hearts and minds of European policymakers. However, in order to develop the most efficient and effective policies to tackle cancer, it is crucial to stay open-minded, and we should always be led by science over ideology.

Smoking-induced cancer takes nearly 700,000 lives every year in the EU, and various marketing schemes and branding restrictions haven’t succeeded in reducing these numbers. When conventional methods don’t work, innovation in the form of vaping must be embraced.

Unlike traditional cigarettes that create more than 7,000 chemicals when burned, 69 of which have been identified as potential carcinogens, vape liquids’ compounds are common food ingredients deemed safe and not harmful by regulatory bodies including the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). Moreover, when compared to other alternatives in getting people to quit, including Nicotine Replace Therapy (NRT) patches and drugs, vaping has been found to be twice as effective.  

Vaping has the potential to drive down smoking-induced cancer rates significantly. The cancer risk of vaping relative to smoking is 0.4% according to a study conducted by the University of St. Andrews. The additional lifetime cancer risk for an e-cigarette user is 0,0095% compared to 2,4% of a smoker found by the same study. At present,t the European Union has 140 million smokers and many of them struggle to quit. Therefore, we need every possible method available to them to make quitting easier. We must expand their choices.

Consumer choice is more than an empty economic term: it is an essential part of our individual pursuit of what we perceive to be best for us, and the ability to do so voluntarily. The Europe Beating Cancer plan is a chance for Europe to inform smokers about vaping and how it can assist them in their efforts to quit. Another important part of the plan should be to actively encourage smokers to switch to vaping and guarantee access to vaping products for adults. 

Since it is impossible to change consumers’ smoking behaviour with a stick – not least because it is inhumane to disregard our freedom to choose – we need to go with encouragement and correct information as our main strategy. 

Creating and sustaining conditions under which adult smokers are able to switch to healthier options such as e-cigarettes is not only a forward-looking solution but also the one that would demonstrate the European Commission’s commitment to tackling cancer without undermining consumer choice. Europe’s Beating Cancer plan should become not just a policy roadmap, but also manifest Europe’s openness to innovation and recognition of freedom as the highest value. Smokers and future generations would be eternally grateful.

Originally published here.

The EU ‘should consistently charge no VAT on medicine’

In a recent move, the European Commission has suggested to EU member states to exempt Covid-19 diagnostic medical devices, as well as a potential vaccine, from value-added tax. The Consumer Choice Centre (CCC) has welcomed this move, since it incentivises a move to alleviate some of the burdens on patients and consumers as they deal with the pandemic. The CCC’s Managing Director and Health Economist Mr Fred Roeder said the EU should be more ambitious with regard to medicines.

“Member states would be right to implement VAT exemptions on medicines, not just in times of a crisis,” he commented.

“Too many patients in Europe pay too much for needed medicines because the government is taking too big of a cut. Some member states charge as much as 25 per cent for both over-the-counter (OTC) medicines, as well as prescription drugs. This burdens health insurance providers and patients alike”, said Mr Roeder.

“We should take the positive example of Malta, which is the only member state that charges no VAT for either OTC or prescription medicine, yet still manages to provide basic services to citizens. If we want to fund government services, we shouldn’t do it on the backs of patients who need medicine.

“We experience this great double standard in Europe: Politicians of major parties complain about the price of drugs on the continent, yet simultaneously charge large chunks of tax on the same drugs. It is time we end this inconsistency”, he concluded.

Originally published here.

Tarif PPN untuk Obat-Obatan di Eropa Diusulkan Maksimal 5%

Insentif pajak untuk barang-barang farmasi dinilai masih dibutuhkan mengingat kebutuhan masyarakat Eropa untuk produk kesehatan terus meningkat di tengah pandemi virus Corona atau Covid-19.

Analis Kebijakan dari The Consumer Choice Center Bill Wirtz mengatakan pembuat kebijakan di Eropa perlu merumuskan ulang kebijakan fiskal untuk produk farmasi pada masa pandemi Covid-19, terutama mengenai tarif PPN.Baca Juga: RS Ummi Bersiap Kena Sanksi Satgas Covid-19 Gegara Tak Lapor Hasil Swab Test Habib Rizieq

“Dalam komponen harga obat pendorong utama yang membuat harga menjadi lebih tinggi karena adanya pajak penjualan obat,” katanya dikutip Rabu (4/11).

Saat ini, lanjut Wirtz, sebagian besar negara Eropa masih memungut PPN untuk resep atau obat yang dijual secara bebas. Pungutan paling tinggi diterapkan Denmark dengan tarif PPN 25%. Lalu, Jerman mengenakan PPN 19% untuk resep obat dan produk obat yang dijual secara bebas.

Sementara itu, satu-satunya negara yang tidak memungut PPN atas resep obat atau obat yang dijual bebas adalah Malta. Kemudian negara seperti Luksemburg menerapkan tarif PPN rendah sebesar 3% untuk obat-obatan dan Spanyol dengan tarif PPN 4%.

Swedia dan Inggris menerapkan PPN 0% untuk resep obat yang dikeluarkan dokter. Namun, tetap memungut PPN 25% di Swedia dan PPN 20% di Inggris untuk obat yang dijual secara umum tanpa harus menyertakan resep obat dari dokter.

“Negara anggota Uni Eropa harus mencontoh Malta yang menurunkan tarif PPN sampai 0% untuk semua obat untuk mengurangi aktivitas komersial dan memastikan harga dijual dengan wajar,” ujar Wirtz.Baca Juga: Jika Vaksinasi Berjalan, Bisa Hentikan Penularan, Pulihkan Kesehatan, dan Bangkitkan Ekonomi

Wirtz berharap terdapat kesepakatan di antara negara anggota Uni Eropa untuk memastikan obat-obatan yang saat ini sangat vital dapat diakses oleh seluruh masyarakat dengan harga terjangkau. Misal, dengan mematok tarif PPN untuk obat-obatan maksimal 5%.

“Perlu adanya perjanjian mengikat untuk kebijakan tarif PPN dengan batas maksimal tarif 5% untuk menurunkan harga obat, meningkatkan aksesibilitas dan menciptakan Eropa yang lebih adil,” tutur Wirtz seperti dilansir eureporter.co

Originally published here.

[UK] Advertising Ban

Introducing a total online advertising restriction for products high in fat, sugar and salt (HFSS)

Last month, the UK government launched a consultation on the proposed ban of of all online advertising of foods high in fat, sugar and/or salt (HFSS) which would include everything from promotional emails to Google adverts. 

HFSS products would be classed in scope of the sugar and calorie reduction programmes. Some of the products covered will be ready meals, pizzas, meat products, savoury snack products, sauces and dressings, prepared sandwiches. The plan comes as an extension of the ‘better health’ strategy launched in July.

The scope of advertising restrictions is not limited to but includes commercial newsletters, in-app advertising, mid-roll video ads, and advertisements which are pushed electronically to devices.

Obesity is a pressing issue in the UK. Taking the path of more lifestyle interventionism in the form of taxes and ad bans seems straightforward and is usually pursued out of noble motives. However, such an approach all too often lacks economic and ethical judgement. 

The link between advertising and childhood obesity is too weak to justify ad bans mainly because of several factors at play. When we consider the effects of advertising, we need to also take into account genetics, energy expenditure, parental style, and availability of the advertised product.

We at the Consumer Choice Center do not support the presented proposals. In our view, in order to tackle obesity, the UK should focus on education and innovation instead of opting for interventionist policies that undermine consumer choice.

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