fbpx

Month: June 2021

Israel comes first in global Pandemic Resilience Index

Israel’s health system was named the most resilient to COVID-19 in the world in a recently released Pandemic Resilience Index. The index, published by global consumer advocacy group Consumer Choice Center, surveyed 40 countries about their health systems’ preparedness and resilience to the pandemic.

The index examined five factors: vaccination approval, vaccination drive, time lags that put breaks on giving vaccines, critical care bed capacity and mass testing. While Israel did not have the highest number of intensive care unit beds per capita or a high average of daily COVID-19 tests, it “is a clear winner when it comes to the speed of vaccinations” – which led to its top spot on the global list.

Second place went to Israel’s neighbor, the United Arab Emirates, which also had a high vaccination rate. The United States, the United Kingdom and Bahrain round out the top five places, while the bottom three went to Australia, New Zealand and Ukraine.

“The pandemic has put health systems globally to an emergency test and exposed both their strong and weak sides,” said Fred Roeder, CCC’s managing director and the index’s co-author. “In particular, that concerns hospital capacity, planning abilities, and the existence of a regulatory system that is able to act fast and efficiently when it comes to testing and vaccination, among other things. Moving forward, we hope our index will help policymakers identify weak spots in our health systems so we can be better prepared for future crises.”

Originally published here.

Taxing sugary drinks unlikely to cut Newfoundland and Labrador obesity rates

Newfoundland is creeping toward a fiscal cliff.

The province’s debt load is more than $12 billion, which is approximately $23,000 per resident. COVID-19 has obviously worsened that troubling trend, with this year’s budget deficit expected to reach $826 million.

Just this week legislators proposed a handful of tax hikes to help cover the gap, ranging from increasing personal income tax rates for the wealthier brackets, increasing taxes on cigarettes, and the outright silly concept of a “Pepsi tax.”

In one year’s time, the province will implement a tax on sugary drinks at a rate of 20 cents per litre, generating an estimated almost $9 million per year in revenue.

Finance Minister Siobhan Coady justified the tax, beyond the need for revenue, stating that the tax will “position Newfoundland and Labrador as a leader in Canada and will help avoid future demands on the health-care system.”

When described like that, a Pepsi tax sounds harmonious. Who doesn’t want to curb obesity and generate revenue?

Unfortunately for supporters of the tax, the evidence isn’t really there.

In one year’s time, the province will implement a tax on sugary drinks at a rate of 20 cents per litre, generating an estimated nearly $9 million per year in revenue.

Unfortunately for supporters of the tax, the evidence isn’t really there. In one year’s time, the province will implement a tax on sugary drinks at a rate of 20 cents per litre, generating an estimated nearly $9 million per year in revenue.

Regressive taxes

Consumption taxes like this are often highly regressive, meaning that low-income residents bear most of the burden, and are ultimately ineffective in achieving their public health goals.

Looking to Mexico provides a good case study on the efficacy of soft drink taxes. With one of the highest obesity rates in the world, Mexico enacted a soft drink tax, increasing prices by nearly 13 per cent, with the goal of reducing caloric intake. A time-series analysis of the impact of the tax showed that it reduced consumption of these drinks by only 3.8 per cent, which represents less than seven calories per day. Estimates from Canada also show the same. When PEI’s Green Party proposed a soft drink tax of 20 per cent per litre it was only estimated to reduce caloric intake from soft drinks by two per cent, which is approximately 2.5 calories per day.

While these taxes do in fact reduce consumption to some degree, the reductions are so small that they have virtually no impact on obesity rates. To make matters worse, taxes like this aren’t just ineffective in combating obesity, they are heavily regressive. Looking again at the data from Mexico, the tax they implemented was largely paid for by those with a low socioeconomic status.

In fact, a majority of the revenue, upwards of 63 per cent, was generated from families at, or below, the poverty line. If we take the province’s estimation of $9 million a year in revenue, it is reasonable to assume that $5.67 million of that revenue will be coming from the pockets of low-income Newfoundlanders.

In other jurisdictions south of the border, like Cook County Illinois, no soda tax has avoided the uncomfortable reality of being incredibly regressive, which is partly why they eventually abandoned the tax altogether.

Doubtful benefits

Newfoundlanders need to ask themselves, is it worth implementing a heavily regressive tax on low-income families to move the needle on obesity by a few calories a day? I’d argue that the negatives of the tax far outweigh the benefits, and that’s before business impacts enter the equation. This also happens to be the same conclusion found in New Zealand.

The New Zealand Institute of Economic Research, in a report to the Ministry of Health, stated that “We have yet to see any clear evidence that imposing a sugar tax would meet a comprehensive cost-benefit test.”

While both budget shortfalls and obesity are serious problems, a “Pepsi tax” isn’t a serious solution.

Originally published here.

Nicotine flavor ban: A lesson in why a bill should not become a law

A few years ago, a liberal law professor friend in New York asked me to help her with a lesson. I was tasked with coming up with a public health policy that students across a wide ideological spectrum could agree upon.

I suggested a policy promoting public health education explaining how vaccines work, as part of an educational campaign to support more widespread acceptance of essential vaccinations.

This proposal met some key criteria in that it was not intrusive, it was based on science as well as common-sense, was always timely and was consistent with broad-based public health goals.

The professor reported back that my topic led to a lively discussion about policy-making and was instructive about how to govern effectively, especially in politically polarized environments.

Now I’d like to propose another public health policy discussion that reasonable people with a wide range of ideologies should also agree upon, but this time, we’d evaluate a policy that should be widely rejected.

The same type of fundamental criteria apply. The proposal should be overly-intrusive, based on neither science or common-sense, particularly untimely, and inconsistent with broader public health policy goals.

A bill so ill-conceived is now being introduced by a member of the New York State Assembly who lives in my Upper West Side neighborhood. Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal is proposing to ban flavored nicotine pouches used by adult smokers to quit smoking.

These pouches fall into the category known as non-combustible alternative tobacco products. They contain nicotine derived from tobacco, but unlike other forms of oral tobacco such as chewing tobacco and Swedish-style moist snus, they don’t contain actual tobacco leaf. Nonetheless, they are still regulated as tobacco products and are subject to the strict regulatory process now being implemented by the Food and Drug Administration. 

Those rules include a requirement that a product be authorized for marketing only if the agency finds it to be “appropriate for the protection of public health.” And, of course, sales of any tobacco product to anyone under 21 are illegal under federal law.

A basic tenet of regulatory policy can be drawn from the restrictions the Supreme Court has placed on laws affecting constitutional rights, which is that a rule must be specifically and narrowly tailored to achieve a compelling government interest.

In the case of a proposed ban on flavors in nicotine pouches, the stated interest is to prevent youth use of a tobacco product. In that regard, it is quite compelling.

But the rule is certainly not at all tailored to achieve that purpose. The ban would apply to all flavored products, not to minors who would purchases it. 

In fact, because these are legally considered to be tobacco products, it is already illegal to sell these products to anyone under 21 in New York, as well as the rest of the country. So essentially the law is a ban on the sale of these products to adults.

Another way to evaluate such a proposal is to ask the questions, we asked in the academic setting:

  • Is the proposal intrusive?
  • Is it based on science as well as common-sense?
  • Is it timely?
  • Is it consistent with broad-based public health goals?

Such a ban would certainly be intrusive. It would prevent adult smokers from access to a significantly less harmful alternative to cigarettes. Flavors are essential In order for products such as these to be appealing to adult smokers an alternative to a cigarette. “Intrusive” is a rather gentle term when trying to describe a rule that would take ban access to a product that could save an addicted smoker’s life.

The proposal is also devoid of any science. Although the science is clear, youth should not use any nicotine containing products, a ban on the sale of lower-risk nicotine products to adults has no evidentiary basis and undermines the well-established public health principle of harm reduction. Remember, because sales of tobacco to those under 21 are already illegal, the only legal change this rule would cause is a ban on sales to adults. So common sense, together with our national history regarding prohibition, make it clear that Assemblymember Rosenthal’s proposal fails this test miserably as well.

As New York continues to grapple with public health challenges caused by the Coronavirus pandemic, including the tragic scandal related to the state’s handling of nursing homes during the pandemic, now seems like a strange time to introduce an intrusive and unscientific ban on a product which, even the bills’ supporters recognize, aren’t being used by youth, as were e-cigarettes.

In fact, the regulations on e-cigarettes have given fewer acceptable lower-risk alternatives to adult smokers who can’t or won’t stop using nicotine. So now would be a particularly dangerous time to ban the sale of flavored nicotine products to adults.  

Finally, the proposed ban is inconsistent with broader public health policy developed by Congress and now being implemented by the Food and Drug Administration.  The FDA has consistently explained that “tobacco products exist on a continuum of risk, with combustible cigarettes being the deadliest.”  The FDA is counting on lower-risk non-combustible products, authorized by the agency, to replace cigarettes for adults who need or want to use nicotine. A state ban on products the FDA is currently evaluating as a tool for tobacco harm reduction would undermine the difficult but promising regulatory process.

The pandemic has reminded us that the government has tremendous power over everyone’s lives, even in a freedom-loving democracy as ours. But there’s a line — there are standards as outlined above that can help us distinguish between rules which promote public health and those which, no matter how noble the stated intention, serve to undermine it.

Originally published here.

Obesity is America’s next pandemic

But public health authorities are asleep at the wheel

Obesity is out of control. Since the beginning of the pandemic, 42 percent of Americans have reported undesired weight gain. Among children, the situation is even more dire, with 15.4 percent of those aged 2 to 17 reportedly obese by the end of 2020, up from 13.7 percent the year before.

These aren’t just abstract statistics. The U.S. has a huge shortfall in life expectancy compared to other developed countries, translating into around 400,000 excess deaths per year. When it comes to the difference between the U.S. and other similarly wealthy countries, 55 percent of America’s public health problems can be traced back to obesity.

Obesity is the next pandemic.

And if the U.S. is very unlucky, politicians will combat the new pandemic the same way they did the old, with sweeping authoritarian bans. Newsflash: A strong government response to obesity hasn’t worked so far, and it won’t work today.

The United Kingdom offers a troubling glimpse into the kinds of policies overactive American politicians might soon try to push through. Britain is led by a nominally Conservative prime minister in Boris Johnson, who calls himself libertarian and won his office by pledging to roll back the “continuing creep of the nanny state” — but you wouldn’t know it from his actions.

In reality, in recent years, the British government has unleashed an avalanche of new taxes and regulations aimed at making Britain slimmer. All have comprehensively failed — the U.K.’s obesity rates are higher than ever, with excess body fat responsible for more deaths than smoking every year since 2014 and over a million hospital admission for obesity-related treatment in England in the year leading up to the pandemic.

The state’s rampant interventionism in this area hasn’t made a dent, and there is no reason to think the result would be any different on the other side of the pond. In the U.K., a regressive sugar tax on soft drinks remains in place (despite Boris Johnson previously promising to scrap it) achieving nothing besides making the weekly shopping trip more expensive for those who can least afford it. There’s also a bizarre £100 million ($142 million) taxpayer-funded scheme which will supposedly solve Britain’s obesity crisis by bribing people to exercise.

The headline act, though, is an appalling move to ban advertising for ‘junk food’ before 9 p.m. on television and at all times online. The premise, proposed with great insistence by bankrupt celebrity chefs and now seemingly adopted by the government, is that helpless children are being bombarded with ads for unhealthy food online and therefore that the malevolent, profit-hungry advertising industry is single-handedly responsible for the national obesity crisis.

Even if that were the case, an advertising ban would be a wildly inappropriate policy response. Government analysis of the policy — not a hit job from a skeptical think tank, but research from the very same people who are insisting that this ad ban is vital — found that it will remove an average of 1.7 calories from children’s diets per day.

For context, that is roughly the equivalent of 0.3 grams of candy, or a little under six peas. The British government is unwavering in its willingness to hamstring an entire industry, even as the world inches towards a period of post-pandemic economic recovery, in order to effect an impossibly miniscule change in children’s diets, not to mention the policy’s disastrous implications for free enterprise and individual liberty.

America: Learn from Britain’s mistakes. Obesity is the next pandemic, but public health authorities who claim to be acting in our best interests have been asleep at the wheel for far too long. All over the world, bureaucrats have been peddling tired 20th-century ideas to deal with 21st-century problems and the U.S. is next in line. Public health is too important to leave up to an outdated and out-of-touch medical-industrial complex which is more interested in its virtue-signaling echo chambers than helping the vulnerable or achieving any real results.

Originally published here.

David Clement: On challenge to dairy supply management: You go, Joe!

Removal would be a huge step forward for American producers, Canadian producers, and consumers on both sides of the border

Last month news broke that the Biden administration will initiate a trade dispute mechanism against the Canadian dairy industry, which is the first formal challenge under the newly renegotiated U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).

The Biden administration claims that Canada’s quota and tariff system under supply management is in violation of what was agreed on when the USMCA was signed in 2018. Though it is unclear whether the administration will emerge victorious when the dispute panel reports back later this year, the removal of Canada’s system of supply management would be a huge step forward for American producers, Canadian producers, and consumers on both sides of the border.

The impact of easing restrictions for American farmers would be substantial, which is why the Biden administration is undertaking its challenge of supply management. Given Canada’s population, opening the Canadian market for U.S. producers would be similar to adding another California in terms of market access.

The U.S. International Trade Commission estimates that if the USMCA were to be enforced as agreed on, dairy exports to Canada would increase by $227 million a year, poultry exports by $183.5 million, and egg exports (for consumption, not industrial use) by $10.8 million. Cumulatively, the $422 million increase would account for an estimated 19 per cent of the total agricultural export gains the U.S. expected from the full implementation of the USMCA.

No doubt defenders of supply management will claim that U.S. export growth will come at the expense of Canadian farmers. But that just isn’t true. Something both protectionists and progressives forget: Trade isn’t a zero-sum game. The benefits of increased trade would be enjoyed by both Canada and the U.S. That same U.S. Trade Commission report estimates U.S. imports of Canadian dairy products would increase by $161.7 million if the terms of the USCMA were enforced. Reduced trade barriers would allow Canadian farmers to sell their products to this new group of American consumers, which is one reason why research published in the Canadian Journal of Economics in 2016 concluded that “supply management may no longer be beneficial to domestic producers of the supply‐managed commodities.”

That said, if there is to be a real winner from the proper enforcement of the USMCA it wouldn’t be producers on either side of the border. It would be Canadian consumers, who have long faced inflated prices because of supply management, to the disproportionate detriment of low-income Canadians. Supply management’s mandate to limit supply and significantly reduce competition artificially inflates prices for Canadian consumers, adding upwards of $500 to the average family’s grocery bill each year. For low-income Canadians that artificial price inflation accounts for 2.3 per cent of their income, which in turn pushes between 133,000 and 189,000 Canadians below the poverty line. Supply management is a disastrously regressive policy.

With very few exceptions, Canadian politicians have not had the courage to take on Canada’s dairy cartel, mostly because of its oversized influence as the most powerful lobby in Canada. If our politicians can’t do the right thing and stand up against this powerful lobby, maybe President Joe Biden can. You go, Joe! Canadian consumers sure would appreciate it.

Originally published here.

HPTL Diyakini Membantu Masyarakat Berhenti Merokok

Jakarta: Inovasi produk nikotin seperti vape, tembakau yang dipanaskan (HTP), snus, dan kantong nikotin atau lebih dikenal di Indonesia dengan sebutan Hasil Pengolahan Tembakau Lainnya (HPTL) diyakini memiliki dampak positif. Salah satunya, membantu perokok untuk berhenti.

Pernyataan ini disampaikan sejumlah aktivis dan ilmuwan dari berbagai belahan dunia saat menghadiri peringatan Hari Vape Sedunia pada 30 Mei 2021. Topik utama dari pertemuan virtual ini adalah pentingnya pemahaman mengenai dampak positif inovasi produk tersebut.

“Inovasi pada produk nikotin sudah terbukti memberikan dampak yang positif. Inovasi teknologi yang ada pada produk HPTL bersifat netral dan lahir dari kebutuhan pengguna akan alternatif produk tembakau yang lebih minim risiko. Sayangnya, terkadang hal ini belum didukung dengan regulasi yang sesuai, sehingga prosesnya terhambat,” kata Wakil Direktur Consumer Choice Center, Yael Ossowski, melalui keterangan tertulis, Rabu, 2 Mei 2021. 

Bagaimana tanggapan anda mengenai artikel ini?

Ossowski mengatakan masih banyak pihak yang menganggap vape dan rokok konvensional merupakan hal yang sama. Ini merupakan salah satu alasan utama mengapa produk HPTL belum mendapatkan regulasi yang sesuai. Selain itu, temuan ilmiah masih belum dijadikan acuan utama dalam merumuskan kebijakan.

Kondisi ini dinilai sangat disayangkan, di mana penelitian terkait produk HPTL saat ini semakin banyak dan berkembang. Ahli Toksikologi dari University of Graz, Austria, Bernd Mayer, menyebut berbagai penelitian sudah membuktikan bahwa vape lebih rendah risiko daripada rokok konvensional.

“Oleh karena itu, upaya mendorong para perokok untuk beralih ke produk alternatif merupakan hal yang tepat,” kata Bernd.

Pada kesempatan yang sama, Cristiana Batista dari Asosiasi Vape Portugal (APORVAP) menjelaskan vape merupakan salah satu hasil penemuan terbesar karena dapat membantu perokok untuk berhenti. Menurut dia, inovasi ini harus disambut dengan insentif dari segi regulasi yang dapat membuat produk ini lebih berkembang dan berdampak positif.

“Saya sangat optimis dengan vape karena produk ini dapat membantu saya berhenti setelah menjadi perokok selama 16 tahun,” kata Batista.

Forum turut mendiskusikan tentang pendekatan baru dalam mengontrol prevalensi merokok di sebuah populasi. Tobacco Harm Reduction (THR) atau pengurangan dampak buruk tembakau adalah pendekatan yang menitikberatkan pada pentingnya memberikan alternatif yang lebih rendah risiko untuk para perokok.

Untuk menerapkan pendekatan tersebut, pemerintah perlu mendukung produk-produk HPTL melalui berbagai instrumen regulasi. Sebaliknya, melarang produk-produk tersebut merupakan pilihan yang kurang tepat.

Menurut pendiri dan mantan Direktur Eksekutif (2000–2017) Drug Policy Alliance, Ethan Nadelmann, pelarangan terhadap opsi-opsi alternatif yang rendah risiko justru dapat melahirkan konsekuensi-konsekuensi yang tidak diinginkan. “Ketika Anda melarang sesuatu, hal tersebut tidak membuatnya menghilang begitu saja, permintaan pasar akan tetap ada dan itu membuat jutaan orang kembali ke pasar gelap untuk mendapatkan apa yang mereka butuhkan,” kata Nadelmann.

Originally published here.

Oxfordshire’s plan to become smoke free is yet another example of state overreach

In February of last year, Ansaf Azhar, the director of public health for Oxfordshire county council, unveiled the “Oxfordshire Tobacco Control Strategy”. Azhar had decided that the proportion of people living in Oxfordshire who smoke – 12 per cent – was too high and needed to be slashed. When fewer than five per cent of people smoke, an area can be considered “smoke free”. Azhar made it his mission to make Oxfordshire England’s first smoke-free county.

The Oxfordshire Tobacco Control Strategy was signed offby the county council in principle in May last year. You would be forgiven for thinking that since then, the director of public health at a local authority might have had more pressing matters to attend to than smoking. But Azhar has apparently continued his crusade against cigarettes undeterred.

He has now horrified right-thinking people up and down the country by declaring the council’s intention to ban smoking for outdoor hospitality. Although the plan currently lacks an implementation timetable or any other firm commitment, the fact that it is part of the plan at all says some very worrying things about the direction we’re heading in.

In the new world order of the nanny state, everything can be neatly categorised into good and bad. Everything is black and white – it’s all either vital or morally reprehensible. Once it is accepted that an activity is objectively “bad”, who could possibly oppose its being banned?

Of course, the real world, outside the offices of “directors of public health”, is rather different. It is not all black and white. There are lots of shades of grey. But nuance and freedom of choice aren’t all that fashionable these days.

Unfortunately for smokers, cigarettes have been deemed a social evil. Their existence is so objectively awful that the reasoning behind drastic measures to wipe them from the face of the earth doesn’t even need justifying. The result is that ludicrous policy proposals like the Oxfordshire Tobacco Control Strategy can be signed off and made reality with startlingly little scrutiny from those we elect to represent us and safeguard our civil liberties.

If you can bear it, I recommend a cursory read of the offending document, for novelty value if nothing else. It talks not of blanket bans, sweeping restrictions and ill-thought-out curbs on our freedoms, but instead of “creating smoke free environments”, as though we are being given a gift of something new to enjoy and ought to be grateful.

Most troubling is the way the document’s authors seem to be in complete denial that they are wielding the tools of the state at all. They write: “The interventions required to successfully de-normalise smoking and achieve a smoke free Oxfordshire may be considered as “nanny statist” or an assault on personal choice by some people. The whole system approach to make smoking less visible is not banning the choice of people who choose to smoke. It aims to create smoke free environments in more places in our communities, protecting the free choice of the nine out of ten residents of Oxfordshire who choose not to smoke.”

Oh, you thought our harsh new restrictions on what you can and can’t do in public were an assault on your freedom, did you? Don’t worry – if you look carefully, you’ll find that bans on common activities actually give you more freedom, not less.

The counter-factual logic behind the introduction of new regulations in the name of “public health” knows no bounds. If the council actually wanted to make Oxfordshire healthier, it would see that the answer is not to put yet more unnecessary strain on the hospitality industry at this impossibly difficult time.

Instead, the council should throw all its efforts behind supporting vaping as an alternative to smoking. More than half of Britain’s e-cigarette users – around 1.7 million people – are former smokers. Those nine out of ten Oxfordshire residents who don’t smoke won’t have to worry about any health risks from second-hand e-cigarette vapour. Even Public Health England concedes – with a great deal of reluctance – that vaping is 95 per cent less harmful than smoking.

And yet, in the 24-page Oxfordshire Tobacco Control Strategy, there is not a single mention of vaping, the most effective instrument for tobacco control we have. That begs the question: what do the public health authorities actually want, if it is not to make people healthier? When they flagrantly eschew proven harm reduction tools in favour of gratuitous centralised policy interventions, it becomes impossible to sympathise with their motives.

This problem stretches much further than Oxfordshire. In fact, the county is only a few years ahead of national public health outcomes. Its strategy mimics that of Public Health England, which is working towards Matt Hancock’s target of making England smoke-free by 2030.

The attack on effective harm reduction methods and the swing towards a new age of nanny statism comes from the very top. Last week, the World Health Organisation honoured the health minister of India for his work on “tobacco control” which notably includes banning vaping. A new APPG, chaired by Mark Pawsey, the Conservative MP, seeks to bring to a halt the WHO’s pernicious influence in areas like this. That task becomes more difficult with each passing day.

Originally published here.

Pesan Inovasi dari Peringatan Hari Vape Sedunia

Sejumlah aktivis dan ilmuwan dari berbagai belahan dunia menghadiri peringatan Hari Vape Sedunia pada 30 Mei 2021. Salah satu topik utama dalam pertemuan virtual ini adalah pentingnya pemahaman mengenai dampak positif inovasi produk nikotin, yang terdiri dari vape, tembakau yang dipanaskan (HTP), snus, dan kantong nikotin atau lebih dikenal di Indonesia dengan sebutan Hasil Pengolahan Tembakau Lainnya (HPTL). Produk-produk tersebut berpotensi lebih rendah risiko dan dapat membantu perokok untuk berhenti. Namun, kurangnya pemahaman para pembuat kebijakan akan produk-produk tersebut membuat perkembangannya melambat.

“Inovasi pada produk nikotin sudah terbukti memberikan dampak yang positif. Inovasi teknologi yang ada pada produk HPTL bersifat netral dan lahir dari kebutuhan pengguna akan alternatif produk tembakau yang lebih minim risiko. Sayangnya, terkadang hal ini belum didukung dengan regulasi yang sesuai, sehingga prosesnya terhambat,” kata Yael Ossowski, Wakil Direktur Consumer Choice Center.

Ossowski menambahkan, masih banyak pihak yang menganggap bahwa vape dan rokok konvensional merupakan hal yang sama. Ini merupakan salah satu alasan utama mengapa produk HPTL belum mendapatkan regulasi yang sesuai. Selain itu, temuan ilmiah masih belum dijadikan acuan utama dalam merumuskan kebijakan. 

Kondisi ini dinilai sangat disayangkan, di mana penelitian terkait produk HPTL saat ini semakin banyak dan berkembang. Profesor Bernd Mayer, Ahli Toksikologi dari University of Graz, Austria mengatakan “Berbagai penelitian sudah membuktikan bahwa vape lebih rendah risiko daripada rokok konvensional. Oleh karena itu, upaya mendorong para perokok untuk beralih ke produk alternatif merupakan hal yang tepat.”

Pada kesempatan yang sama, Cristiana Batista dari Asosiasi Vape Portugal (APORVAP) menjelaskan bahwa vape merupakan salah satu hasil penemuan terbesar karena dapat membantu perokok untuk berhenti. Menurutnya, inovasi ini harus disambut dengan insentif dari segi regulasi yang dapat membuat produk ini lebih berkembang dan berdampak positif. Batista menambahkan, “Saya sangat optimis dengan vape karena produk ini dapat membantu saya berhenti setelah menjadi perokok selama 16 tahun.”

Mendukung bukan menghentikan 

Forum turut mendiskusikan tentang pendekatan baru dalam mengontrol prevalensi merokok di sebuah populasi. Tobacco Harm Reduction (THR) atau pengurangan dampak buruk tembakau adalah pendekatan yang menitikberatkan pada pentingnya memberikan alternatif yang lebih rendah risiko untuk para perokok. Untuk menerapkan pendekatan tersebut, pemerintah perlu mendukung produk-produk HPTL melalui berbagai instrumen regulasi. 

Sebaliknya, melarang produk-produk tersebut merupakan pilihan yang kurang tepat. Menurut Ethan Nadelmann, Pendiri dan mantan Direktur Eksekutif (2000–2017) Drug Policy Alliance menjelaskan bahwa pelarangan terhadap opsi-opsi alternatif yang rendah risiko justru dapat melahirkan konsekuensi-konsekuensi yang tidak diinginkan. “Ketika Anda melarang sesuatu, hal tersebut tidak membuatnya menghilang begitu saja, permintaan pasar akan tetap ada dan itu membuat jutaan orang kembali ke pasar gelap untuk mendapatkan apa yang mereka butuhkan,” tambah Nadelmann.

Originally published here.

MINDEROO REPORT ON PLASTIC IGNORES CONSUMER COSTS

The Minderoo foundation released a report outlining the multinational corporations they claim are responsible for producing and financing single-use plastic products globally.

The report, which was internationally covered, calls for additional regulations to help curb the issue of mismanaged plastic waste. Unfortunately, their proposals largely ignore the immense consumer costs associated with increased regulatory efforts.

 “The Minderoo Foundation’s report on plastic waste completely ignores the additional costs to consumers that arise from heavy-handed regulations. Their suggestions, in addition to what has already been proposed by Congress, are a recipe for disaster that will significantly increase the prices paid by consumers”, said David Clement, North American Affairs Manager for the DC-based Consumer Choice Center.

“The Foundation’s report seems to ignore the fact that the Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act, and CLEAN Future Act, set the stage for a moratorium on permits for advanced recycling facilities. This is important because a polymer recycling mandate, like the one proposed in the report, is not feasible if Congress simultaneously bans the creation of new advanced recycling facilities.

“If Congress were to act on the Minderoo Foundation’s report, they would create a recycled content mandate while at the same time significantly limiting the ability of advanced recycling facilities to keep pace. That will cause demand for recycled plastics to skyrocket without creating the necessary infrastructure needed to increase the supply of recycled plastic, which will put tremendous upward pressure on prices. It would be a terrible outcome for consumers, especially given the financial uncertainty forced upon so many Americans because of the pandemic,” he added.

Originally published here.

Ukraine is the least pandemic resilient country in the world

One of my best friends is an infectious disease doctor in Lviv, and throughout the pandemic, I had a chance to learn a lot about Ukraine’s preparation for the pandemic. From the shocking lack of protective equipment, unwillingness to get vaccinated to a late start of and insufficient testing, malfunctions of our health system have been blatantly exposed by the COVID-19 crisis. 

Time will tell what and when exactly went so wrong, but one thing is clear: we could have done better. In fact, according to the Consumer Choice Center’s Pandemic Resilience Index 2021, which I co-authored, we did the worst in the world.

To demonstrate global preparedness for the pandemic which was by and large foreseeable, we examined 40 countries through the prism of the following factors: vaccine approval, vaccination drive, as well as the number of intensive care beds, and the pace of testing. The said indicators are crucial components of health resilience as the ability to envisage COVID-alike threats, recognize them early on, respond without resorting to panic and rushed decision making, avoid shortages, identify and tackle regulatory barriers, and sustain the state of preparedness.

Based on the findings, the resilience of countries was assessed as the highest, above average, average, below average and lowest. Israel and the United Arab Emirates topped the list, while most EU countries showed average preparedness. Britain and the United States are above average.

New Zealand and Ukraine have shown the lowest resilience. In the case of New Zealand, its lag can be explained by its location and the strict closure of borders. Due to a small number of cases, the health system As a result of very few cases, its health system did not quite face the emergency test of the sweeping gravity.

Instead, in the case of Ukraine, the reasons are different. As a post-Soviet state trying to make its way into the European Union, Ukraine has failed to uphold effective healthcare system reform. Combined with corruption, regulatory barriers to vaccine approvals, and inefficient management, Ukraine had not only failed to recognize the rising rates of the infection early on and act on it, but also to quickly adapt its health system to the needs of the day. 

Let’s look at some numbers. It took Ukraine 84 days longer than the UK and more than 50 days longer than the EU to officially start vaccination. The delays are largely the result of short-sightedness and a lack of anti-COVID strategy. Only Australia, which started vaccination on February 25, 2021, a day later than Ukraine, has a worse result than Ukraine in this indicator of the index.

Furthermore, the issue wasn’t only the vaccine approval process per se but also its distribution. ensure the first and second stages of vaccination, 347 mobile teams are needed, according to the Public Health Center. In the future, it is planned to create a total of about six hundred such teams. All these steps take time, as workers involved in vaccination must first undergo special training from the Ministry of Health and the World Health Organisation. In times of the pandemic, the time costs are higher, and lags are, as a result, very costly.

The fight against the virus is also undermined by low support for vaccination among the Ukrainian population. According to a survey conducted by the National Kharkiv Institute of Sociological Research, as of December 2020, only 21 percent of Ukrainians wanted to be vaccinated – 40 percent were against.

The average number of daily tests conducted in Ukraine per 100,000 population (as of March 31, 2021) – 0.51 – is one of the lowest in the world. This figure is 4 times lower than Britain, 14 times lower than Slovakia, and 11 times lower than Cyprus. According to the Index, only India and Brazil test less than Ukraine. Furthermore, it is likely because of the lack of testing that Ukraine hasn’t made headlines as India 2.0. By now, every Ukrainian knows someone who died of COVID, or at least had it once, so the numbers are very misleading. 

In contrast, countries such as South Korea and UAE enforced drive-through testing. Abu Dhabi Health Services (SEHA) and Abu Dhabi Department of Health put in place drive through testing services to stop the spread, and testing every two weeks has been encouraged.

Regarding intensive care bed capacity, Ukraine here is also at the rock bottom of the ranking. Before the start of the pandemic, there were 4.1 beds per 100 thousand population in Ukraine. For comparison, Poland had 10.1, and Russia – 8.3.

Ukraine has a lot to learn from other countries, and our Index is a clear indication that the Indian pandemic scenario is quite real for Ukraine if we do not solve the fundamental problems in the health system, and learn to plan for the future better.

Originally published here.

Scroll to top