Month: December 2021

Delaying the proposed law on content quotas

In February 2021, the Mexican senate proposed a new law (Ley Federal de Cinematographia y de Audiovisual) that would require a national audiovisual content quota of 15%. If the law passed, streaming services and digital platforms would have to reduce their content offer to meet a 15% national quota. To meet the quota, Prime Video, for example, would have to delete two-thirds of its library. 

CCC hosted a successful webinar to discuss the negative effects this policy would have on consumers, while not even achieving its purpose of increasing production and consumption of national content. Webinar created quite a buzz and was featured in more than 50 Mexican news outlets! CCC also interacted with members of the Mexican senate and other stakeholders to stop the law.

Fortunately, our efforts didn’t go unnoticed, the law has been delayed and will have to go under a full review and be debated in parliament according to Mexico’s legislation. We hope the Mexican parliament will leave it up to Mexican consumers to decide what movies and series they prefer to watch. 

The EU is after gig economy: what does this mean?

Recently, the European Commission published draft legislation, planning to regulate the employment status of gig workers across the bloc. There have been multiple attempts of defining worker rights and status at the country level, with contradicting court decisions, and it seems like the EU commission wants to take matters into its own hands. 

Sharing economy is a platform-based type of exchange that allows individuals and groups to share their services peer-to-peer. Platforms only act as intermediaries and facilitators, instantly connecting the supply with demand, but not everyone sees sharing economy platforms in this way. Ride-hailing and delivery services have come under fire for treating drivers and delivery workers as contractors. The EU Commission and a few member states such as The Netherlands say that they should be given the employers’ rights.

This EU initiative has received different reactions. While unions found a reason for celebration, ride-hailing and delivery platforms rally against it. Uber and Delivery Platforms Europe, the group of food delivery platforms, voiced their concerns about the impact this initiative will have on consumer choice and the thousands of jobs it threatens. Changing the business model may not be feasible for all the companies, as it could force them out of some EU markets. According to a recent study, up to 250,000 couriers could quit if legislation reduces flexibility around working hours and schedules. This has already happened with Deliveroo and Spain. After a new Spanish “Rider Law” entered into the force in August, the company had to cease all operations and 8,000 couriers ended up losing their jobs. 

The contractor status gives drivers flexibility and the chance to choose their working hours. In our fast-changing world, that is especially appealing. Furthermore, with the increased risk of getting laid off as a result of another lockdown, engaging in the gig economy lets Europeans diversify their income sources. They can work for different ride-hailing apps simultaneously, which would be impossible in the case of full employee status. It also allows those drivers to mix various engagements and find which one works best for them. A 2018 study of Uber drivers in London demonstrated that flexible schedule, along with autonomy was the main benefit for them, while another study found that being an independent contractor is associated with “greater enjoyment of daily activities, a decrease in psychological strain”.

Delivery drivers are no different, two-thirds of respondents of a study by Copenhagen Economics name flexibility as the main reason for working as a courier and over 70% of them wouldn’t be willing to switch to fixed-schedule work.

For workers, the draft legislation would mean a loss of flexibility to decide their working hours and the ability to work for several platforms simultaneously. For European consumers, these changes would mean a hike in sharing economy services prices, which they have been relying heavily on during the pandemic. This can lead to decreased demand for food delivery services, and in the light of current lockdowns and restrictions, the restaurant business also ends with the short end of the stick. 

One size doesn’t fit all: some prefer using traditional taxi services, others are more comfortable with ride-hailing apps. Just because taxi drivers are faced with substantial licensing fees that drive up the cost of the service, doesn’t mean we should overburden ride-hailing platforms with the same regulations and restrictions. If European governments want to create a level playing field, they should make things easier for taxi drivers and gig workers, as happened in the case of Estonia. The Estonian government legalized the sharing economy “at a time when a large part of the world is finding protectionist reasons to prohibit the sharing economy” and lessened previous regulatory burden on taxis. The Estonian government didn’t try to cover employment status and rightly so, as according to recent polls 76.4% of platform workers in Estonia use the gig economy to supplement their income.

Consumer habits have changed and even after the pandemic is finally over, it is likely that we will keep ordering food from the comfort of our own homes. These platforms provide unique value to millions of consumers around Europe. If we transfer the exact rules and regulations traditional services are faced with —as the EU Commission intends to do—we risk losing everything that makes the sharing economy unique and attractive. Consumers are the ones who will have to bear the burden of restricted choice and increased prices. 

Ontario set to make cannabis delivery, curbside pick-up permanent

A new proposal from the Ontario government, the Supporting People and Businesses Act, would allow private cannabis retailers to offer delivery and curbside pick-up permanently. Ontario now has 1,000 cannabis retail stores Allowing cannabis delivery is a good start. Retailers were permitted to offer delivery and pick-up services during the pandemic and advocates have argued that the success of the temporary measures proves it’s a viable and safe option for consumers.

Ontario recently surpassed 1,000 cannabis stores and making these features permanent would “enable retailers to continue supporting physical distancing and general public health directives,” a summary of the proposal notes. “Making cannabis delivery permanent rather than temporary would be a huge step forward for the legal market in Ontario,” David Clement, North American affairs manager at the Consumer Choice Center, wrote for The GrowthOp last May.

Read the full article here

Consumer expert cites 6 reasons why nicotine is not the enemy

In this month of Christmas festivities, we have great news on the public health front: in countries that have encouraged and embraced a policy of tobacco harm reduction, the number of smokers has decreased significantly.

In the UK, for example, smoking levels have fallen by 25 per cent since 2013 (the time when vaping became popular). Over the last four years In Japan, cigarette sales have fallen by 34 per cent while sales of harm-reducing alternatives such as heat-not-burn jumped to 30 per cent in 2019.

This has been achieved because those who usually seek out nicotine are doing so in a less harmful way.

However, even though these numbers are a significant victory for consumers, an entire legion of unscientific scapegoating of nicotine undermines these successes. This approach has dire consequences: fewer people switch to less harmful alternatives, such as vaping, nicotine pouches, or heat-not-burn devices.

In the Phillippines, there has been progress on legalising additional categories of harm reduction, but we still have not been able to achieve the broad adoption necessary.

As such, here are six reasons that we must stop demonising nicotine.

People consume nicotine but die from smoking

We shouldn’t encourage people to start using nicotine. But health authorities must stop preventing smokers from switching to vaping and other alternatives. According to the British National Health Service, “Although nicotine is an addictive substance in cigarettes, it is relatively harmless in itself. Almost all the harm from smoking comes from thousands of other chemicals in tobacco smoke, many of which are toxic.”

Nicotine in patches and chewing gums is not a problem, so it should not be considered a problem in vapes

The Royal College of Physicians in the United Kingdom summarised the role of vaping as a method of delivering nicotine as follows: “Electronic cigarettes meet many of the criteria of an ideal product to reduce tobacco harm. Although the delivery of nicotine from e-cigarettes depends on several factors, […], they may contain a high dose of nicotine, but do not have harmful components of tobacco smoke […] “.

Nicotine addiction is complex, and prohibitions cannot effectively tackle it

Nicotine causes the release of dopamine, which contributes to tobacco addiction. But this may not be the only reason why so many people can not quit smoking. If nicotine was the sole cause of smoking addiction, every smoker who uses nicotine patches should have quit smoking immediately. But we know that’s not the case.

A study published in 2015 in the scientific journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence found that the potential dependence on nicotine is very low in the absence of tobacco smoke. That means that most vapers experience much less addiction pressure than tobacco smokers.

Nicotine has medical benefits

Research in the 1960s showed that smokers had lower levels of Parkinson’s disease, and recent studies have established nicotine as a cause. The result found that “men who did not smoke but used snus (a type of smokeless tobacco) had a significantly lower risk of Parkinson’s disease.” One of the reasons for that is nicotine’s positive cognitive effect, which has been revealed in a host of studies.

Misconceptions about nicotine inhibit progress

Unfortunately, public perceptions of nicotine are distorted. 57 per cent of respondents of the US survey agreed with the statement that “nicotine in cigarettes is the substance that causes most cancers caused by smoking,” and even 80 per cent of doctors mistakenly believe that nicotine causes cancer. These misconceptions of the public and experts have negative consequences, as they distort the perception of vaping, which is 95 per cent less harmful than smoking.

A recent review of 755 case studies on the general effects of vaping concluded that only 37 “meet the exact criteria of scientific quality.”

Prohibition never works

History shows us that bans don’t work, and that is one of the most overlooked lessons. The alcohol ban in the United States was a complete catastrophe, which led to increased alcohol consumption, unsafe consumption, massive cartels. The same is true with recent pandemic-related restrictions on alcohol and tobacco in South Africa. The global war on drugs around the world has, in many ways, failed to achieve what it sought to do or even made the problem worse. In many cases, it has led to counterproductive policies. Therefore, it is fair to assume that the war on nicotine will have the same results.

Since smoking and smoking-induced diseases remain one of the challenges of humanity, it is essential to address them without ideological biases. Nicotine is not our enemy, and we cannot forget that.

Originally published here

Someone has to pay for student debt forgiveness and it doesn’t solve the problem

Elizabeth Hicks was invited to Steve Gruber Show to talk about student loan forgiveness

Listen to the interview here

Paid plasma collection coming to Alberta

Blood plasma is a valuable resource used to create medicines that treat burns, help those with immune deficiencies, coagulation disorders and respiratory diseases. 

The Voluntary Blood Donations Act in Alberta banned paid plasma donation in 2017. However, the voluntary system only provides 20% of supply needed, making the Province of Alberta, and the country, reliant on foreign sources.

To meet the domestic need for plasma therapies, Canada has imported more than 80 percent of these therapies from the United States, where plasma donors are compensated for their donations.

We have long advocated in support of paid plasma donations around the country and we are happy to see the Voluntary Blood Donations Repeal Act being passed. This allows private companies to pay donors for their plasma and plasma collection is expected to increase in Alberta, as it has in other jurisdictions. The CCC’s North American Affairs Manager David Clement has advocated for the allowance of paid plasma in The Western Standard, and the Toronto Star.

This is the news worth celebrating and here’s to hoping other provinces follow Alberta’s lead.

Pentingnya Meninjau Ulang Kebijakan Cukai Vape di Indonesia

Industri vape merupakan salah satu sektor industri yang berkembang cukup pesat di Indonesia. Dari tahun ke tahun, jumlah pengguna dan nilai industri vape di negara kita terus meningkat.

Pada tahun 2020 misalnya, jumlah pengguna rokok elektronik atau vape di Indonesia mencapai 2,2 juta pengguna. Angka yang sangat tinggi ini juga dibarengi dengan jumlah penjual vape yang mencapai 5000 penjual di seluruh Indonesia, berdasarkan daria dari Asosiasi Personal Vaporizer Indonesia (APVI) (liputan6.com, 22/7/2020).

Jumlah yang tinggi ini merupakan peningkatan yang pesat dari tahun-tahun sebelumnya. Pada tahun 2018 misalnya, tercatat jumlah pengguna vape atau rokok elektronik di Indonesia mencapai 1,2 juta orang (industri.kontan.co.id, 22/3/2019).

Industri vape yang meningkat ini tentu juga berpotensi besar akan membawa manfaat ekonomi bagi banyak orang, salah satunya adalah membuka semakin banyak lapangan kerja. Dengan semakin berkembangnya industri ini, pembukaan lapangan kerja yang lebih banyak tentu akan sangat memberi manfaat bagi banyak orang.

Tetapi, tidak semua pihak menyambut positif fenomena ini. Tidak sedikit pula pihak-pihak yang memiliki sikap kekhawatiran dan juga pandangan yang sangat negatif melihat fenomena semakin meningkatnya pengguna vape di Indonesia, dan mengadvokasi berbagai kebijakan yang dianggap dapat menanggulangi fenomena tersebut.

Berbagai kebijakan ini ada berbagai macam bentuknya, mulai dari pelarangan total, sampai dengan berbagai kebijakan yang ditujukan untuk mengurangi insentif seseorang untuk menggunakan berbagai produk-produk rokok elektronik, salah satunya adalah menetapkan cukai untuk produk-produk rokok elektronik, untuk meningkatkan harga tersebut. Kebijakan ini misalnya, sudah diterapkan di negara kita pada tahun 2018 lalu.

Pada tahun 2018 misalnya, Pemerintah Indonesia melalui Direktorat Jenderal Bea dan Cukai menerapkan 57% cukai untuk produk-produk cairan vape. Hal ini dikarenakan para pengguna vape dianggap cenderung sebagai orang-orang yang berpenghasilan menengah ke atas, dan juga kebijakan etrsebut diberlakukan sebagai upaya pengendalian konsumsi, salah staunya adalah mencegah anak-anak untuk mengkonsumsi produk-produk tersebut. Selain itu, kebijakan cukai tersebut juga merupakan pengejewantahan dari Undang-Undang No 39 tahun 2007 tentang Cukai (cnbcindonesia.com, 9/1/2018).

Kebijakan cukai vape ini bagi sebagian kalngan dianggap sebagai sesuatu yang wajar, sebagai salah satu upaya untuk menanggulangi dan mengendalikan penggunaan dan konsumsi vape. Hal ini juga merupakan kebijakan yang sama diberlakukan ke berbagai produk-produk konsumsi lain yang dianggap memiliki dampak negatif bagi kesehatan, seperti rokok konvensional yang dibakar dan juga minuman beralkohol.

Meskipun demikian, masih terdapat masalah dari penerapan aturan cukai tersebut untuk produk-produk rokok elektronik. Salah satunya adalah penerapan kebiajkan cukai yang tidak sama dan setara antara dua produk rokok elektronik, yakni rokok elektronik yang sistemnya terbuka dan juga tertutup.

Singkatnya, vape dengan sistem terbuka mengizinkan penggunanya untuk memilih pilihan liquid lebih banyak dan dari berbagai produk yang tersedia. Sementara itu, vape dengan sistem tertutup untuk pilihan rasanya cenderung lebih sedikit, dan pilihannya hanya tersedia untuk pilihan yang disediakan oleh produsen vape tersebut. Tetapi keuntungannya, tidak seperti vape dengan sistem terbuka lebih simple untuk digunakan dan tidak perlu dibersihkan secara lebih sering dengan dibandingkan vape yang menggunakan sistem terbuka (breazy.com, 15/1/2019).

Kembali ke pembahasan mengenai cukai, dalam penerapannya di Indonesia, terjadi pembedaan yang signifikan antara cukai yang diberlakukan untuk vape dengan sistem yang terbuka dan sistem yang tertutup. Berdasarkan pernyataan dari Aliansi Pengusaha Penghantar Nikotin Elektronik Indonesia (APPNINDO), dalam penerapannya, regulasi dalam bentuk cukai untuk produk vape dengan sistem tertutup 11 kali lebih tinggi bila dibandingkan dengan vape yang menggunakan sistem terbuka (tribunnews.com, 16/9/2021).

Hal ini dikarenakan, cukai pada cairan vape dengan sistem terbuka dihitung berdasarkan mililiter cairan tersebut, sementara, vape dengan sistem tertutup menggunakan perhitungan berdasarkan per kontainer dari liquid vape tersebut. Akibatnya, dalam penerapannya, cukai vape dengan sistem kontainer yang tertutup ini menjadi sangat tinggi bila dibandingkan dengan vape dengan sistem yang terbuka (tribunnews.com, 16/9/2021).

Hal ini tentu merupakan sesuatu yang perlu dibenahi. Hal ini dikarenakan, berdasarkan keterangan dari APPNINDO, vape dengan sistem tertutup jauh lebih aman bagi konsumen dikarenakan konsumen hanya bisa menggunakan e-liquid atau cairan yang disediakan oleh produsen. Hal ini dapat mencegah kontaminasi dan pencampuran cairan vape dengan bahan-bahan lain yang sangat berbahaya, dan bisa menimbulkan penyakit berat hingga kehilangan nyawa (tribunnews.com, 16/9/2021).

Terlebih lagi, berdasarkan penelitian dari lembaga kesehatan publik Britania Raya, Public Health England (PHE), vape terbukti merupakan produk 95% lebih tidak harmful bila dibandingkan dengan rokok konvensional yang dibakar (gov.uk, 19/8/2015). Hal ini tentu merupakan berita yang sangat positif, terutama bagi para perkok yang ingin menghentikan kebiasaannya.

Sebagai penutup, untuk itu, perlibatan para pelaku industri vape atau rokok elektronik dalam pembuatan kebijakan regulasi produk ini oleh pemerintah dan pengambil kebijakan. adalah hal yang sangat penting. Jangan sampai, kebijakan yang tujuannya untuk melindungi masyarakat malah berbalik arah menjadi kebijakan yang tidak efisien yang justru akan merugikan konsumen, khususnya mereka yang ingin menghentikan kebiasaan merokoknya.

Originally published here

Government regulations would threaten this beloved Christmas symbol

O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree, harsh government regulations are putting you in jeopardy.

With Christmas so close, many of us in Michigan have enjoyed a common holiday tradition this year: finding the perfect fresh Christmas tree to put up in our home. Unfortunately, harsh state regulations could put Michigan’s Christmas tree production in serious jeopardy.

Christmas trees are a big deal in this state, so much so that Gov. Gretchen Whitmer recently declared December “Michigan Christmas Tree Month.” Ranking third in the nation for the number of Christmas trees harvested, Michigan provides about 2 million trees to the national market every year, generating roughly $40 million in value.

With over 500 Christmas tree farms over 37,000 acres within the state, this industry is massively important and affects many Michigan residents.

However, growing Christmas trees is no easy feat. According to the Michigan Christmas Tree Association, it takes about seven years to grow a tree to commercial height, although it can take as many as 15 years in some cases.

Additionally, it is common for tree farms to plant around 2,000 trees per acre, although only about 1,250 on average survive as infestations from pests, insects and disease are common. Fortunately, there are many innovative solutions to prevent infestations and ensure that Christmas tree farmers are able to optimize their yields.

One of the innovative solutions listed in Michigan State University’s 2021 Michigan Christmas Tree Pest Management Guide is neonicotinoids or neonics, a type of insecticide with a chemical structure similar to nicotine.

Neonics have been used extensively in agriculture because they effectively target insects and pests while being significantly less harmful to wildlife than most other insecticides.

Unfortunately, there have been calls to restrict neonics in Michigan that would result in severe economic harm to our Christmas tree farms. Just earlier this year, a bill was introduced to the Michigan House that contained language banning the use of neonics, claiming that the insecticide would kill bee populations.

At one time, many believed that a decline in bee populations were a result of widespread use of neonics and substitutes such as sulfoxaflor, although this has since been debunked. In reality, the supposed drop-off in honeybee colonies was a result of how beekeepers tracked the number of bees they managed. According to research from an international group of ecologists, the number of global honey bee colonies has actually increased by 85% since 1961.

If neonics were banned in Michigan, it could economically destroy the state’s Christmas tree farms and industry, leaving many farmers out in the cold after working tirelessly to make our holidays special over the years.

Instead, legislators should “branch” out from bad policy and embrace the innovative scientific solutions that will keep Christmas in Michigan merry and bright.

Originally published here

Editorial on COVID and PFAS chemicals needlessly alarmist

The Nov. 24 South Jersey Times editorial headlined “COVID and PFAS: A match not made in heaven” argues that exposure to PFAS, a class of man-made chemicals, potentially reduces the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines and calls on New Jersey to further assess the risks associated with these chemicals.

While a clean-drinking-water approach to PFAS is appropriate, the debate is far more nuanced than represented in the editorial.

It is true that when dumped into water supplies or used beyond threshold amounts, PFAS do pose a considerable danger to our health and well-being. Some individual chemicals do require regulations or potentially bans, but that alone is not sufficient to justify a blanket ban, something now being attempted at the federal level.

PFAS are a group consisting of 4,500 to 6,000 chemicals. Because of their liquid resistance and surface tension lowering properties, PFAS are key to producing many consumer products and lifesaving medical equipment. PFAS products ensured the durability and reduced contamination from COVID-19 protective equipment, too.

The use of PFAS has dropped, thanks to self-regulation by manufacturers. The presence of PFAS in the bloodstreams of Americans has decreased, and industrial releases have declined as well.

Banning all of these chemicals will only shift PFAS production, most likely, to China. That said, we need a careful evaluation of PFAS. Demonizing these chemicals as a group doesn’t help anyone, and implying that they might reduce vaccine efficacy without evidence is a huge disservice to readers.

Originally published here

Will the US endorse this Congressional proposal to adopt Europe’s innovation-stifling ‘precautionary principle’ regulation?

A new bill supported by environmental organizations and co-sponsored by progressive lawmakers Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and Cory Booker (D-NJ) would copy food rules in Europe and paste them in the United States.

The bill is called the Protect America’s Children from Toxic Pesticides Act (PACTPA), and it would completely retool how America approves and licenses the use of pesticides and import a “precautionary” approach that has so far stunted innovative agriculture in Europe.

The fact that consumers, when presented with the choice between organic and conventional agriculture, choose the latter and not the former, plays no important role in the views of these activists. […]…A European model of agriculture in which farmers are significantly more subsidized than their American counterparts might be appealing to some stateside farmers, but is that really the future of agriculture that Americans want? Do Americans want a model in which farmers are forever dependent on the federal government as opposed to a market economy where the relationship is between consumers and farmers?

American agriculture is an asset too precious for lawmakers to succumb to the pressure of people who would rather see the industry disappear than use the benefits of modern agricultural technology.

Read the full article here

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