Month: March 2022

Iceland the Latest Country to Plan Counterproductive Nicotine Law

Earlier this month, Iceland’s Office of Health Promotion and Science launched a consultation on a draft law on nicotine products. If passed, the law will introduce age limits for nicotine consumption, ban e-cigarette flavors perceived to appeal to children, and stipulate a permissible maximum nicotine concentration.

Nobody is arguing that children should take up nicotine products, and introducing age restrictions for pouches and gums, among others, is sensible. The current minimum age for buying vapes in Iceland is 18. The proposed bill intends to introduce the same limit for other nicotine products. ID requirements and potential fines for retailers increase compliance rates, as the examples of Germany and Canada show.

However, the other aspects of the proposed law seek to protect children at the expense of adult smokers and vapers—a theme we’ve seen repeated elsewhere in the world. The underlying assumption that nicotine is everyone’s enemy is concerning. A better appreciation of the facts about nicotine and flavors would add impetus to Icelandic efforts to reduce smoking that are already succeeding.

Iceland today has a reported adult smoking rate of just 7 percent—the lowest in Europe apart from Sweden, where smokeless snus has been widely adopted as a replacement for cigarettes. As recently as 2014, Iceland’s reported adult smoking rate was 14 percent; the rise of vaping among tens of thousands of Icelanders has been credited, in part, with smoking’s rapid decline.

Vaping is vastly safer than smoking. Yet nicotine consumption is traditionally associated with smoking, and that association continues to distort perceptions.

The truth is that nicotine is relatively harmless—unlike toxins found in tobacco smoke. According to Yorkshire Cancer Research in England, “Nicotine is not the cause of death from smoking. Nicotine is not a carcinogen; there is no evidence that sustained use of nicotine alone increases cancer risk. Of the three main causes of death from smoking (lung cancer, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease and cardiovascular disease), none are caused by nicotine. The harm from smoking comes from the thousands of other chemicals in tobacco smoke.”

Nicotine is also used in nicotine-replacement therapy, which speaks for its harmless qualities. Multiple studies have found that it also enhances cognitive function and reduces the risk of Parkinson’s disease.

Giving up on smoking is difficult. And if nicotine is safe, then the goal of tobacco control should be to endorse safer ways of consuming nicotine. Thanks to innovation, there are several ways to do that. Some smokers prefer nicotine pouches and gums, or, as seen in Sweden, forms of smokeless tobacco. For many others—the bulk of 82 million people worldwide at one recent count—e-cigarettes are the best way to quit smoking and the health risks that come with it.

Given all this, how can it be justified to limit the amount of nicotine that vapers may consume? When vapers are overwhelmingly either ex-smokers or smokers in the process of switching, allowing whatever nicotine concentrations best help them to stay off cigarettes is a clear public health imperative.

Vape flavors, which Iceland also proposes to ban, are moreover an essential element in helping many smokers quit. They’re routinely mischaracterized as appealing uniquely to children, but adults prefer them too.

Flavor bans drive vapers—teenagers, too—back to smoking or into the riskier illicit market. A 2020 survey of vapers in Canada, England and the United States found that in response to flavor bans, “28.3% would find a way to get their banned flavor(s), 17.1% would stop vaping and smoke instead.” Does Iceland want to prove the point?

While the architects of the new law may have good intentions, they need a better grasp of these realities. Sensible regulation, including child and consumer protections, can be achieved without removing key options that smokers need to switch. As it stands, the legislation risks counteracting years of Icelandic progress.

Originally published here

Why is Germany hiring a former Greenpeace activist who reflexively opposed nuclear energy and genetic engineering as a climate advisor?

February 9, a headline caused a stir: Annalena Baerbock now employs Jennifer Morgan, the former head of Greenpeace, as special representative for international climate policy.

An open lobbyist in the federal government? “How can that be?” wondered many commentators on social networks.

The Federal Foreign Minister also encouragement received. LobbyControl, a German NGO, defended the federal minister with several tweets. It must be possible to bring experts from outside into the ministries. The transfers in the opposite direction are more of a problem. And anyway: lobbying for non-material goals should not be equated with organizations that pursue it for their own financial purposes.

After all, the organization admitted that Morgan would have to represent the interests of the federal government in the future and not those of Greenpeace.

An organization that, according to its own website, wants to be a counterweight to the ever-increasing influence of think tanks, PR agencies and their tricks, denies the problem. Our lobbying is better than your lobbying…

But apart from the problem of hiring a lobbyist in an important and representative position within the federal government, the question of Greenpeace’s “ideal goals” also arises. Is Greenpeace really an organization that works for the common good? Is Greenpeace a serious organization that achieves positive things? And is Morgan, as the former head of this organization, actually an added value for the German state?

Looking at Greenpeace’s activities, the affirmative answer to these questions seems unlikely. The organization has been engaged in populist and sensational activism for years.

You don’t have to look far for examples, we all remember the crash landing of the Greenpeace activist in Munich’s Allianz Arena. At the qualifying game of the German national team, the activist landed in the middle of the field after injuring two people on the head a few seconds earlier. The action was about putting pressure on the car company VW, which was being urged to get out of the combustion engine. Because of the same issue, Greenpeace activists later stole 1,500 keys to VW vehicles in Emden that were to be exported.

Read the full article here

Parlamento Europeu envia nova carta aí congresso reforçando preocupação com propriedade intelectual

O Parlamento Europeu enviou, nesta segunda-feira (14), uma nova carta aos Presidentes da Câmara dos Deputados, Arthur Lira (PP/AL), e do Senado Federal, Rodrigo Pacheco (DEM/MG), pedindo a manutenção do veto nº 48/2021, que trata da quebra de patentes de vacinas e remédios. Esta é a segunda vez que os membros do Parlamento entram em contato com os presidentes do Congresso expressando suas preocupações com o futuro da inovação no Brasil.

Em setembro de 2021, quando o presidente da República, Jair Bolsonaro (PL), assinou a lei que quebra temporariamente patentes de vacinas e medicamentos em situações de emergência, os membros enviaram a Lira e Pacheco uma primeira carta pedindo a manutenção do veto. Porém, como as Casas ainda não decidiram sobre o tema, o Parlamento se mobilizou novamente, em apelo.

A carta foi assinada por 10 membros do Parlamento Europeu, pertencentes a diferentes grupos políticos e países. A iniciativa dos europeus contou com o apoio do grupo internacional de defesa dos consumidores, Consumer Choice Center (CCC), e da Frente Parlamentar pelo Livre Mercado (FPLM).

Read the full article here

Pentingnya Membuat Standarisasi bagi Produk Vape di Indonesia

Saat ini, rokok elektronik atau vape merupakan produk yang sudah digunakan oleh jutaan orang di seluruh dunia. Dengan sangat mudah, kita bisa melihat para pengguna rokok elektornik di berbagai penjuru, terutama di wilayah urban dan kota-kota besar, termasuk di kota-kota di Indonesia.

Karena semakin besar pasar bagi produk-produk vape, saat ini kita juga semakin mudah untuk mendapatkan produk-produk tersebut. Kita bisa dengan sangat cepat bsia membeli produk-produk vape yang dijual di berbagai platform, mulai dari berbagai toko-toko offline yang tersebar di berbagai tempat pusat perbelanjaan, hingga berbagai toko-toko daring yang bisa kita akses melalui berbagai gawai yang kita miliki.

Indonesia sendiri juga mengalami kenaikan tingkat pengguna produk-produk rokok elektronik atau vape tersebut. Pada tahun 2018 lalu misalnya, tercatat ada sekitar 1,2 pengguna rokok elektronik yang ada di Indonesia. Dua tahun kemudian, pada tahun 2020, jumlah tersebut meningkat menjadi 2,2 juta orang (medcom.id, 22/1/2021).

Semakin meningkatnya para pengguna vape di Indonesia juga telah membuka banyak lapangan kerja di negara kita. Pada tahun 2020 lalu misalnya, Asosiasi Personal Vaporizer Indonesia (APVI) memaparkan bahwa sektor rokok elektronik di Indonesia sudah menyerap 50.000 tenaga kerja, dan juga cukai kepada pemerintah sebesar 1 triliun rupiah (ekbis.sindonews.com, 9/7/2020).

Tetapi di sisi lain, semakin meningkatnya pengguna vape juga telah menimbulkan berbagai kelompok yang menunjukkan sikap kontra. Mereka memiliki pandangan bahwa, fenomena semakin banyaknya pengguna vape merupakan salah satu ancaman bagi kesehatan publik, karena vape dianggap sebagai produk yang sama berbahayanya dengan rokok konvensional.

Kelompok-kelompok dan pihak-pihak yang memiliki pandangan sangat kontra terhadap fenomena semakin meningkatnya pengguna vape tersebut umumnya akan mengadvokasi adanya aturan keras yang melarang seluruh kegiatan yang berhubungan dengan produk-produk vape, baik konsumsi, produksi, atau distribusi. Organisasi pegiat anti tembakau internasional, The Union, misalnya, merupakan salah satu organisasi yang mengadvokasi adanya aturan tersebut (baliberkarya.com, 28/5/2020).

Terkait dengan tingkat berbahaya dari produk-produk vape dibandingkan dengan rokok konvensional, sudah dikeluarkan berbagai laporan dari lembaga kesehatan yang memiliki kredibilitas tinggi bahwa pandangan tersebut adalah sesuatu yang sangat keliru. Lembaga kesehatan asal Britania Raya, Public Health England (PHE) misalnya, telah mengeluarkan laporan bahwa vape 95% jauh lebih tidak berbahaya bila dibandingkan dengan rokok konvensional (theguardian.com, 28/12/2018).

Untuk itu, kebijakan pelarangan total vape merupakan kebijakan yang sangat tidak tepat. BIla para pengambil kebijakan memberlakukan kebijakan untuk melarang vape secara penuh, maka para konsumen akan kehilangan kesempatan untuk beralih memilih ke produk lain yang jauh lebih tidak berbahaya.

Di beberapa negara lain, bahkan vape atau rokok elektronik digunakan sebagai salah satu produk untuk membantu para perokok untuk berhenti merokok. Di Britania Raya misalnya, lembaga kesehatan publik National Health Service (NHS) telah merekomendasikan untuk menggunakan vape sebagai salah satu alat untuk membantu para perokok untuk menghentikan kebiasaannya yang sangat berbahaya tersebut (nhs.uk, 29/3/2019).

Maka dari itu, kebijakan yang tepat yang harus dilakukan adalah mengeluarkan regulasi yang sesuai yang dapa menjaga keselamatan konsumen, dan agar konsumen tidak jatuh menggunakan produk vape ilegal yang berpotensi besar sangat berbahaya. Salah satunya adalah melalui kebijakan standarisasi yang dikeluarkan oleh pemerintah, sebagaimana terhadap produk-produk konsumen lainnya.

Standarisasi sendiri merupakan bentuk kebijakan regulasi yang lumrah diberlakukan oleh pemerintah dalam rangka menjaga konsumen dari produk-produk berbahaya yang beredar di pasar. Kebijakan ini sendiri juga didukung oleh organisasi Asosiasi Personal Vaporizer Indonesia (APVI) untuk diberlakukan pemerintah. Selain itu, pelaku usaha bidang vape di Indonesia juga didominasi oleh para pemilik usaha mikro, kecil, dan menengah (UMKM). Adanya standarisasi yang jelas tentu juga akan sangat membantu para pemilik usaha tersebut (ekbis.sindonews.com, 9/7/2020).

Bahaya dari produk vape ilegal sendiri merupakan hal yang bisa kita saksikan di berbagai negara, salah satunya di Amerika Serikat. Pada tahun 2019 lalu misalnya, di negeri Paman Sam tersebut terjadi penangkapan dua orang bersaudara yang memproduksi produk-produk vape ilegal, yang telah menyebabkan korban jiwa (abcnews.go.com, 13/9/2019). Hal ini tentu merupakan sesuatu yang harus dicegah untuk menjaga keselamatan konsumen.

Berita baiknya adalah, kebijakan standarisasi tersebut saat ini sepertinya akan menemukan titik terang. Pada tahun 2021 lalu, Badan Standarisasi Nasional (BSN), yang memiliki otoritas untuk memberikan standarisasi bagi produk-produk konsumen di Indonesa, menyatakan sudah merumuskan standarisasi bagi produk-produk rokok elektronik (vapemagz.co.id, 3/9/2021).

Dengan adanya standarisasi tersebut, maka diharapkan konsumen akan dapat memilih produk yang aman yang ada di pasar untuk mereka gunakan. Tidak adanya standarisasi sendiri tidak akan mencegah seseorang untuk menggunakan produk vape, dan justru malah akan semakin banyak membuat produk-produk vape ilegal membanjiri pasar, dan hal tersebut akan sangat berbahaya bagi para konsumen.

Originally published here

Instead of banning all PFAS, let’s assess them individually

Growing calls to end the use of so-called “forever chemicals”, used in everything from non-stick frying pans to medical equipment, risk causing unnecessary supply chain disruption and illicit trade

Recently, calls for a complete ban of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), also known as “forever-chemicals”, have intensified in the EU. Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and Denmark spearheaded a consultation on PFAS to collect the evidence to kick-start this process. Belgium is also tightening its PFAS regulations.

The EU already regulates some uses of PFAS. In line with the Stockholm Convention, the 2019 EU’s Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) Regulation restricts the use of Polydioctylfluorenes (PFOS), a group of PFAS. A year later, the European Food and Safety Agency (EFSA) introduced thresholds for four PFAS in food.

Over the past few years, multiple EU Member States have pushed for regulation of individual PFAS. In 2018, Sweden and Germany jointly called on the EU to ban six long-chain PFAS. The greatest anti-PFAS sentiment comes from the Nordic countries, where restrictive national legislation has been introduced.

Sven Giegold, Speaker of the German Green Delegation in the European Parliament, proposed banning all PFAS  “so that manufacturers cannot simply switch to chemically similar compounds that are not yet regulated”. The Greens point to the dangers associated with the PFAS water contamination and health risks.

However, while it might be tempting to act on a whim and ban all PFAS single-handedly, we should take a step back. The complete ban would be a knee-jerk reaction to an issue that requires careful and ideology-free risk analysis.

Under the PFAS umbrella, there are between 4500 and 6000 chemicals. These man-made structures have been in use since the 1940s and have become extensively entrenched in our supply chains. The main reason for this is PFAS’ outstanding water, oil, and acid resistance and surface tension lowering properties.

Without PFAS, vital pieces of medical equipment would be difficult, even impossible, to produce. Surgical gowns, curtains, and floor coverings that contain PFAS help protect doctors from infections during surgeries. A wide variety of life-saving medical equipment uses PFAS. Stent-grafts, or fluoropolymer heart patches, used to cure various heart diseases, have helped millions of patients globally. The durability and reduced contamination of COVID-19 protective equipment is another example of PFAS’s multiple benefits.

PFAS also do carry some risks. When dumped into the water supply or used in excessive amounts, PFAS pose a considerable danger to our health and wellbeing. Much like many products and chemicals used in our daily lives, PFAS are not risk-free. That, however, doesn’t warrant a complete ban. A 2021 study by the Australian National University found that the exposure to PFAS comes almost entirely from water.  The risks associated with consumer items are nearly non-existent.

Because of PFAS’s overreaching use, the advocated ban will disrupt entire supply chains and shift production to countries with no respect for PFAS use thresholds or the environment, such as China. As long as the demand for a specific product – or production component – is there, and alternatives are either unavailable or less effective, the ban will only be exploited by producers in countries with no care for environmental safety standards or made available in the black market.

In the EU, illicit trade in pesticides alone – which have been subject to many bans and regulations – accounts for €1.3 billion annually, equal to the entire economy of Seychelles. A PFAS ban will only exacerbate these numbers unless the group approach is replaced with an individual risk assessment.

PFAS are diverse chemicals, many of which have become an indispensable part of crucial production processes such as the manufacture of medical equipment. Some PFAS, on the other hand, do pose a danger to our health and might require further restrictions or bans. Throwing all PFAS in the same basket out of precaution is neither economically nor scientifically sensible.

To protect European consumers, the European Union should opt for an individual risk assessment This would prevent unnecessary supply chain disruptions and illicit trade spikes. Europe can do better if it chooses science over populist calls for a complete PFAS ban.

Originally published here

5 Fakta Nikotin, Benarkah Sebabkan Masalah Kesehatan?

Nikotin kerap dianggap sebagai penyebab utama munculnya berbagai masalah kesehatan yang berkaitan dengan merokok. Lantaran opini tersebut berkembang luas, penggunaan produk tembakau alternatif seperti produk tembakau yang dipanaskan, rokok elektrik, maupun kantung tembakau, seringkali disamakan memiliki risiko yang sama dengan rokok karena mengandung nikotin.

Padahal, berdasarkan hasil kajian ilmiah produk tersebut memiliki risiko yang lebih rendah daripada rokok. Apakah benar jika nikotin dianggap sebagai sumber masalah kesehatan? Berikut penjelasannya lengkapnya.

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O Parlamento Europeu enviou, nesta segunda-feira (14), uma nova carta aos Presidentes da Câmara dos Deputados, Arthur Lira (PP/AL), e do Senado Federal, Rodrigo Pacheco (DEM/MG), pedindo a manutenção do veto nº 48/2021, que trata da quebra de patentes de vacinas e remédios. Esta é a segunda vez que os membros do Parlamento entram em contato com os presidentes do Congresso expressando suas preocupações com o futuro da inovação no Brasil.

Em setembro de 2021, quando o presidente da República, Jair Bolsonaro (PL), assinou a lei que quebra temporariamente patentes de vacinas e medicamentos em situações de emergência, os membros enviaram a Lira e Pacheco uma primeira carta pedindo a manutenção do veto, que voltou ao Congresso. Porém, como as Casas ainda não decidiram sobre o tema, o Parlamento se mobilizou novamente, em apelo.

Na carta, 10 membros do Parlamento Europeu, pertencentes a diferentes grupos políticos e países, alegam que o Projeto de Lei (PL) 12/2021, em particular o item que fala sobre as licenças compulsórias e transferência tecnológica forçada, não tem precedentes e vai contra o acordo da TRIPS assinado pelo Brasil. A iniciativa dos europeus contou com o apoio do grupo internacional de defesa dos consumidores, Consumer Choice Center (CCC), e da Frente Parlamentar pelo Livre Mercado (FPLM).

Read the full article here

US: Illinois Bill Would Ban Flavoured Vaping Products

Senate Bill 3854, would include all flavoured products including THC vaping devices, heat-not-burn systems and chewing tobacco products. “(1) “tobacco product” includes products containing tetrahydrocannabinol and products containing a mixture of tetrahydrocannabinol and nicotine, and (2) “tobacco retailer” includes dispensing organizations and dispensing organization agents, as those terms are defined in the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act. Creates a presumption that a tobacco product, related tobacco product, alternative nicotine product, or solution or substance intended for use with electronic cigarettes is a banned product, solution, or substance intended for use with electronic cigarettes if it has or produces a characterizing flavor,” reads the bill proposal.

In line with arguments by tobacco harm reduction experts, Elizabeth Hicks from the U.S. Affairs analyst with the Consumer Choice Center, said that enacting a flavour ban for vaping products, will just lead former smokers back to smoking.

Read the full article here

EU Risks ‘Forever Stalling’ Digital Innovation With A Bitcoin Ban

The European Parliament’s Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs will vote today on a comprehensive regulatory proposal called MiCA (Market in Crypto-Assets). This proposal has been in the works for months, however, last-minute several amendments have been added to the proposal, which if accepted could effectively ban Bitcoin and cryptocurrency mining in the European Union, pushing thousands of innovators out of Europe.

“By effectively prohibiting the issuance or offering for exchange of crypto-assets that rely on proof-of-work protocols under environmental, social, and governance guidelines, the European Union would make a disastrous move that would obliterate not just the nascent crypto industry but also hurt consumers and once again cede technological leadership in innovation to the United States,” said Aleksandar Kokotović, crypto fellow at Consumer Choice Center, a global consumer advocacy group.

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Deputados europeus pedem que Congresso rejeite quebra de patentes

Dez deputados do Parlamento Europeu reforçaram nesta segunda-feira (14/3) ao Congresso Nacional a preocupação com a derrubada de um veto de Jair Bolsonaro à quebra de patentes de remédios e vacinas. Os parlamentares devem votar o assunto na terça-feira (15/3).

O documento foi encaminhado ao presidente do Senado, Rodrigo Pacheco, e ao presidente da Câmara, Arthur Lira. Em setembro, legisladores da União Europeia já haviam pedido que o Congresso mantivesse o veto de Bolsonaro publicado naquele mês, que trata de propriedade intelectual. Segundo o grupo, pode haver violação de segredos industriais se o veto for rejeitado. O pleito é apoiado pela Frente Parlamentar do Livre Mercado e pelo Consumer Choice Center.

Read the full article here

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