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Day: June 5, 2023

Hold The Line on FDA Appropriations In Defense of Consumers

Dear House Appropriations Committee Members,

As an advocacy group engaged in work to protect and defend consumer choice, we urge you to keep in place Sections 768-769 of the Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill. These sections refer to limiting the funding of several rules issued by the Food & Drug Administration to ban entire flavored categories of various tobacco and nicotine products without any reference to safer alternatives that save lives.

Over the past year, the FDA held exhaustive hearings and consultations on these provisions, which we did participate in and opposed at the time. Despite protests from consumers and civil society groups, they were implemented regardless.

By keeping these funding restrictions in the bill, you can support consumers making their own product choices, while preserving safer nicotine alternatives and avoiding the negative repercussions that would follow from product prohibition.

It is vitally important that the House Appropriations Committee pursue an actionable plan for incorporating harm reduction and reduced-risk nicotine alternatives in policy and at the FDA, rather than shortsighted bans that threaten to boost illicit markets.

If the agency  is serious about reducing smoking in our country, then the answer must center on harm reduction in all aspects, rather than ratcheting up bans and restrictions that will cause more harm.

Please keep these provisions in place and continue to stand tall in defense of consumer choice for your constituents. 

Sincerely Yours,

Yaël Ossowski

Deputy Director

Consumer Choice Center

(PDF version available here)

Some tips for graduates on getting their first job 

A paycheck can be a powerful tool for those who know how to manage it properly – particularly in today’s state of economic uncertainty. But for those who recently secured their first full-time position post-graduation and are feeling uncertain as to where to start when it comes to maximizing their incoming income, here are a few tips for getting started.

First and foremost, it is good practice to think of your earnings as needing to fill three separate buckets. One for savings, one for spending, and one for living. This is where the 50/30/20 rule comes into play. The 50/30/20 rule is a simple and straightforward budgeting strategy that can be applied to your earnings right away. Essentially, this rule claims that half of your after-tax earnings (50%) should be allocated for needs and living expenses, while the other half should cover wants-related expenditures (30%) along with savings and investments (20%).

Although following the 50/30/20 rule sounds easy enough, keeping your savings secure and purchases purposeful does require deliberate decision-making and dedication.

Read the full text here

Why We Need Acquisitions and Why Khan’s Concerns are Bad for Business

Namesakes of the 90s are seeing better days as Bed Bath & Beyond and David’s Bridal file for bankruptcy, joining the likes of Blockbuster and RadioShack. Each of these big box stores were big business in their heyday, and serve as a reminder that even the best can go bust in a dynamic marketplace.

Incumbent firms are prone to fall victim to the replacement effect, whereas opportunities for innovations are deemphasized so as to maintain the status quo. A great example of this is Kodak’s reluctance to embrace digital photography.

For firms to have staying power, they must be alert to changing market needs and pivot according to changing realities. Sometimes this can be done through the scaling of assets and resources by means of a merger. A current example of this is the proposed Kroger-Albertsons merger, which aims to create a premier omnichannel sales network for not only groceries but also healthcare and pharmaceutical needs. Through the joining of existing retail units, the merger would establish a national footprint for Kroger and enable it to capitalize on the growing trend of retail media marketing as well as compete with industry giants like Walmart and Costco. 

Accordingly, one might think the FTC would welcome the merger, given that Walmart has long been lambasted for its behemoth status without a worthy adversary when it comes to sales of groceries. Yet the FTC is reluctant to allow the transaction.

Currently, the FTC is ramping up its review of all things merger and acquisition related, including even past deals – to the dismay of Big Tech firms. 

Read the full text here

New GEG Bill Is Too PROHIBITIVE And NEEDS Further Review

KUALA LUMPUR, 30 th May 2023 – Consumer Choice Center (CCC) urges the Government to reconsider its decision to table the Control of Tobacco Products and Smoking Bill 2022 which includes a generation endgame policy (GEG) in the upcoming Parliament session as further scrutinisation needs to be conducted on this matter that involves consumer preferences. 

GEG too harsh on vendors

Representative of the Malaysian Consumer Choice Center, Tarmizi Anuwar, said: “It is time for the government to stop dictating consumers on what can be done and what cannot be done. All consumers have a fundamental interest in defending personal and civic freedoms. Therefore, they should be given a personal choice to decide what works for them without excessive intervention.” 

“In addition, what consumers need are smart regulations that can protect them rather than restrict them because problems like smoking and vaping are multifaceted.”

Read the full text here 

Pentingnya Reformasi Regulasi Perlindungan Hak Kekayaan Intelektual di Tengah Perkembangan Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence (AI), atau kecerdasan buatan, saat ini merupakan salah satu sektor teknologi yang mengalami perkembangan yang sangat pesat. Saat ini, AI menjadi bagian yang tidak bisa dipisahkan dari keseharian jutaan orang di seluruh dunia, termasuk juga di Indonesia.

Misalnya, salah satu layanan berbasis AI yang saat ini berkembang sangat pesat dan digandrungi oleh jutaan orang di seluruh dunia adalah ChatGPT. Layanan chatbot AI yang dikembangkan oleh perusahaan teknologi asal Amerika Serikat, OpenAI, ini, memberikan fasilitas untuk membantu banyak pekerjaan dan kegiatan kita sehari-hari, mulai dari mencari sumber referensi untuk penelitian, hingga membantu menuliskan kode untuk menjalankan program komputer tertentu.

Tidak bisa dipungkiri bahwa, seiring berjalannya waktu, peran AI dalam kehidupan sehari-hari kian penting dan krusial. Dengan menggunakan berbagai layanan berbasis kecerdasan buatan, jutaan orang bisa melakukan pekerjaan mereka dengan lebih efisien, dan lebih menghemat waktu dan tenaga.

Namun, di sisi lain, sebagaimana perkembangan teknologi yang sudah dialami oleh manusia pada dekade sebelumnya, perkembangan AI yang semakin pesat juga membawa dampak negatif dan menimbulkan kritik dari beberapa pihak. Salah satunya adalah, tindakan kriminal seperti pembajakan karya bisa semakin mudah dilakukan.

Beberapa waktu lalu misalnya, di Amerika Serikat, sebagian seniman mengajukan gugatan terhadap beberapa layanan seni daring, seperti DeviantArt dan Midjourney. Gugatan tersebut dilayangkan dengan dasar bahwa layanan tersebut melakukan hal yang dianggap bentuk pelanggaran terhadap kekayaan intelektual yang dimiliki oleh para seniman tersebut (tfr.news, 16/1/2023).

Dalam gugatan tersebut, para perusahaan layanan daring tersebut dianggap telah melakukan pelanggaran hak kekayaan intelektual dengan mengumpulkan gambar-gambar (image generating) secara daring yang dibuat oleh para seniman tanpa izin pembuatnya. Tidak sedikit pula, gambar-gambar yang dikumpulkan oleh penyedia layanan daring tersebut bahkan sudah memiliki hak cipta yang didaftarkan.

Hal ini tentu merupakan hal yang sangat penting untuk diselesaikan. Bila tidak ada payung hukum yang dapat melindungi para pekerja kreatif dan inovator atas karya yang mereka buat dan kekayaan intelektual yang mereka miliki, maka tentu dengan mudah pihak-pihak yang tidak bertanggung jawab dapat mencuri karya tersebut.

Untuk itu, adanya payung hukum yang dapat melindungi para pekerja kreatif dan inovator agar karya mereka tidak dibajak oleh pihak lain merupakan sesuatu yang sangat penting. Berita baiknya, hal ini juga sudah menjadi perhatian dari beberapa pejabat terkait, salah satunya adalah Menteri Hukum dan Hak Asasi Manusia (Menkumham), Yasonna Laoly.

Dalam rapat kerja dengan Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat (DPR) bulan lalu, Menkumham menyatakan bahwa harus ada regulasi dan aturan hukum yang ditujukan untuk melindungi para pekerja kreatif dari perkembangan teknologi kecerdasan buatan yang semakin maju. Menkumham juga menyatakan bahwa, perusahaan teknologi raksasa seperti Google juga mengatakan bahwa mereka lagi bergumul terkait dengan masalah ini (antaranews.com, 23/9/2023).

Adanya regulasi dan perlindungan hukum tentu merupakan langkah yang paling tepat untuk melindungi kekayaan intelektual yang dimiliki oleh pekerja kreatif. Tetapi, di sisi lain, ada juga beberapa langkah aktif yang bisa dilakukan oleh para pemangku kepentingan dalam rangka mencapai tujuan tersebut, salah satunya dari sisi para pelaku usaha.

Staf Ahli Menteri Bidang Reformasi dan Regulasi Kementerian Pariwisata dan Ekonomi Kreatif (Kemenparekraf) misalnya, mengatakan bahwa, penting juga bagi pelaku usaha melalui asosiasi mereka turut terlibat dalam penyusunan regulasi tersebut. Beberapa langkah yang bisa dilakukan oleh para pelaku usaha diantaranya adalah membuat panduan mengenai apa yang dianggap sebagai batasan kemiripan yang substansial dari suatu karya tertentu (hukumonline.com, 2/7/2020).

Hal ini tentu merupakan sesuatu yang sangat penting, mengingat regulasi mengenai perlindungan kekayaan intelektual, terlebih lagi di era digital, bukan merupakan sesuatu yang mudah. Seseorang bisa membuat karya dengan menjiplak karya tertentu dengan melakukan sedikit perubahan. Oleh karena itu, adanya ketentuan batasan kemiripan yang substansial dari lembaga asosiasi merupakan hal yang dapat membantu untuk memberi kejelasan dan tentunya mempermudah perlindungan hak kekayaan intelektual.

Terlebih lagi, seiring dengan perkembangan teknologi artificial intelligence yang semakin pesat, AI bisa dengan mudah membuat karya melalui jiplakan atau menyalin karya orang lain, atau mengombinasikan beberapa karya tersebut. Tanpa adanya ketentuan dan batasan yang jelas mengenai inti atau “DNA” dari karya tertentu, maka dapat dengan sangat mudah bagi teknologi AI untuk menduplikasi karya tersebut.

Terkait dengan hal tersebut, perkembangan AI sendiri saat ini juga menjadi salah satu hal yang diperhatikan oleh lembaga pemerintah terkait, salah satunya adalah Direktorat Jenderal Kekayaan Intelektual Kementerian Hukum dan Hak Asasi Manusia (Kemenkumham). Kemenkumham melalui Dirjen Kekayaan Intelektual menyampaikan bahwa AI berpotensi bisa menjadi subyek hukum seperti dengan perorangan atau korporasi (hukumonline.com, 2/7/2020).

Sebagai penutup, perkembangan teknologi artificial intelligence yang sangat pesat merupakan fenomena yang hampir tidak bisa dibendung. Dengan segala manfaat kebaikannya, tidak bisa dipungkiri bahwa AI juga membawa berbagai tantangan baru, salah satunya adalah terkait dengan perlindungan hak kekayaan intelektual yang semakin sulit. Untuk itu, dibutuhkan reformasi hukum yang sesuai untuk dapat mengakomodir keadaan tersebut.

Originally published here

For the farm bill to do any good, it needs to prioritize this one thing

Is the farm bill a welfare program for slackers or the last-ever chance to create a sustainable food model for the future? Listening to Republicans and Democrats, those seem to be the only two choices.

The $1 trillion-plus spending package that is the 2023 farm bill is set to become an unprecedented point of contention in Congress. The farm bill has traditionally been a bipartisan effort; however, lawmakers on the Republican bench are concerned over the implications of the bill for the debt ceiling.

The farm bill is a five-year legislative plan that governs much of America’s food production. It dictates everything from how food is made to who has access to it, including everything from farmer training to crop insurance and food research. Arguably, programs such as these are expensive because, evidently, so is agriculture. 

The United States is not alone in this aspect, given the fact that the European Union uses more than a third of its annual budget for farming and regional development. However, the largest factor for the sizable price tag is nutrition programs, covering a welfare aspect that has far less consensus in Congress: food stamps.

House Republicans believe that the farm bill should limit access to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program by changing work requirements for its beneficiaries. In plain English, this means: If you’re able-bodied and do not have children, food stamps will only be accessible if you’re over the age of 55, from the existing 49. 

While it is important to look at the sizable cost of SNAP payments in the farm bill, both Republicans and Democrats should strive for a more thorough vision of agriculture. The price of food stamp policies is also defined by the overall cost of food.

The other pricey section of the farm bill consists of subsidies for farmers through direct payments and insurance policies. It is true that the United States subsidizes agriculture to a lesser extent than its European counterparts, all while guaranteeing a more sustainable and efficient food sector. The U.S. also shines on free trade compared to EU policies, as it implements fewer tariffs, and subsidizes and exports less, making sure it faces fewer World Trade Organization challenges than other countries. That said, the U.S. has increased the reliance of farmers on income support through direct producer payments, as Department of Agriculture research outlines.

A question lawmakers should be asking is whether the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation even needs to continue being a federal government program when private insurance companies provide similar services. On top of that, it would be important for USDA to conduct an impact assessment on the cost implications for farmers of the chemical policies that the federal government implements.

In fact, regulatory restrictions on chemical crop protection products negatively affect how reliably farmers can supply our supermarkets. The Environmental Protection Agency silently pushes out synthetic pesticides and would rather have consumers purchase much pricier organic products. Now granted, if consumers wish to shop organic, that is their choice. However, we cannot expect the public to shift to products with price premiums of up to 100% just because the administration has decided that crop protection methods that have been deemed safe by other agencies now suddenly ought to be phased out. 

Many environmental groups are pushing for tighter regulations on pesticides because they long for what they assume were the good old days in which farms were small and tractors were car-sized. The reality they haven’t faced is that the world has moved on and that nobody wants to move back to the consumer purchasing power of the 1950s.

Regulation has a hidden price tag, and if the administration wants to have a serious discussion about the sustainability and viability of the farm sector, it needs to be transparent about all of these costs, not just try to score a flawed deal to avoid a government shutdown.

Farm subsidies are far from being an ironclad guarantee that food will be either available or affordable. For that to happen, we need to analyze the entire food chain and its regulations to determine whether or not our own fear of crop protection chemicals is actually the cause of many of our ills.

Originally published here

The European Union’s new chemical regulations leave the bloc vulnerable to Chinese domination

The European Union’s Chemical Agency (ECHA) risks creating new problems for itself by moving from a risk to a hazard-based assessment of chemicals.

Sometimes, eliminating one set of problems only creates more dangers in their stead. The European Union’s Chemical Agency (ECHA) is about to do just that by moving from a risk to a hazard-based assessment of chemicals. Though seemingly just a change in words, the decision means regulators can label a substance as dangerous for its properties based on the material’s hypothetical characteristics rather than real-world exposure to harm. Simply put, policymakers will be able to introduce severe warning labels or prevent a product from entering the market if just one of its molecules could be dangerous based on hypothetical assessments under controlled laboratory setups. The ECHA’s new regulations threaten to undermine the European chemical market while making the Union progressively dependent on China for raw resources.

The case of essential oils encapsulates the problem. Essential oils are water or steam-based extracts integral to anything from perfumes and cosmetics to shampoos and natural insect repellents. They are vital components for the emergent market in clean beauty, with nine hundred ninety-two mixtures (including household names such as lavender, rose, and citronella) giving makeup its cleansing properties and deodorants their unique scent. When highly concentrated in doses containing 10% or higher quantities of emulsion, citronella, sage, and cinnamon also provide one to four hours of protection from mosquito and tick bites. And, unlike traditional DEET or picaridin sprays, they remain harmless to bees and the environment.

Despite all these benefits, essential oils’ designation as complex natural substances will have to change with the introduction of hazard-based thinking. Rule-makers will label the mixtures as dangerous chemicals or ban them entirely under EU regulation 2021/1902. In either case, European consumers tend to avoid buying products with skulls and crossbones stamped on them.

It is no understatement to say that the consequences for the 3.53-billion-euro EU market would be dire. Once the ECHA’s new rules are fully adopted, current EU and world leaders in the supply of essential oils, like Bulgaria, France, and Italy, stand to lose. Bulgaria will no longer be the top producer of rose oil, wasting between 800kg and two tonnes of the material and 92 million euros worth of exports. Italy is single-handedly responsible for 95% of the world’s bergamot production and will lose 174 million euros. France is the third-largest exporter and the second-biggest producer of lavender, worth 458 million euros in exports that it would have to give up on. Moreover, smaller producers in each of these countries stand to lose the most as it would be too expensive for them to replace essential oils with other products (putting the 4500 family businesses behind Italian bergamot in danger).

The story does not stop there. The ECHA’s decision will allow China to dominate the essential oils market with impunity. Chinese lavender production is already at an all-time high, with 40 tonnes harvested yearly, ten of which are reserved for exports. The contraction of the European market will allow China to step in and become the world’s substitute for essential oils, overcoming its previously estimated growth in the sector of 10.8% over the next eight years. The news would be welcome under ideal economic circumstances of free trade and open, voluntary specialization within a global market; however, in our world, the Chinese state controls Xinjiang Province’s lavender reserves. As such, the Chinese Communist Party could cut access to raw materials to make liberal democracies surrender. Far from being safer, consumers are left more exposed to geopolitical blackmail by authoritarian regimes.

Policymakers should urge the ECHA to reverse its hazard-based reasoning in favor of risk-oriented thinking. Regulators should emphasize safe levels of intended use, which, in the case of essential oils, means allowing the European market to thrive (stepping in only to prevent force and pseudo-scientific fraud).  In so doing, the European Union can benefit from diversifying its essential oil sources, thus protecting consumers from the vagaries of great power politics.

Originally published here

Hamilton should speed up end of exclusionary zoning

In a shocking U-turn, the City of Toronto has essentially ended exclusionary zoning citywide. Exclusionary zoning are the zoning regulations that limit the amount of homes that can be built on a single lot, excluding all forms of housing other than single family homes. Prior to the 18-7 vote by Toronto city council, upwards of 70 per cent of the city was zoned exclusively for single family homes. Now, duplexes, triplexes and fourplexes are allowed in all residential neighbourhoods.

These exclusionary zoning rules artificially limit the housing stock, which limits supply, and all but ensures that supply will never keep pace with demand. The consequence of exclusionary zoning is quite predictable: when supply can’t keep pace with demand, you have rising home prices and rising rents.

This is a huge step in the right direction to address the housing affordability crisis in Ontario, but this progress shouldn’t end within Toronto’s city limits. As anyone looking to buy or currently renting knows, the housing crisis isn’t limited to Toronto, with prices rising significantly in the Greater Hamilton area. In fact, in 2021 Hamilton was one of the top five least affordable cities in North America. In fact, Hamilton was only more affordable than Toronto and Vancouver, and significantly more expensive than major North American markets like Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Tampa Bay.

We know that ending exclusionary zoning works to calm the tide of rising prices, because we have seen it work in other cities. Minneapolis, which abolished exclusionary zoning before the pandemic is a perfect example. The city now appears to be bucking the trend of rising rental prices. Rents for one- and two-bedroom units are actually lower in 2022 than they were in 2019. Some of that presumably can be chalked up to having made it easier to build for increased density.

But, ending exclusionary zoning isn’t just the right policy for addressing the housing crisis. It is also the right policy for enhancing economic growth and protecting the environment.

Research on zoning rules in the U.S. has shown that, by freezing workers out of high-rent areas like New York and San Jose where their productivity would be higher, local zoning rules lowered U.S. economic growth by 36 per cent between 1964 and 2009. That is a significant lag on the economy, and without a doubt the same trend rings true in Canada’s high demand cities like Toronto, Vancouver, and Hamilton.

For those who care about protecting the environment, changing the way Hamilton zones the city should be a priority. In factaccording to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) more compact cities could reduce urban emissions by upwards of 25 per cent. This should be intuitive for policy-makers. If people can live closer to where they work, the stores they shop at, the restaurants they dine at, or where they seek entertainment, they ultimately drive less. Whether it be by foot, transit or bike, compact cities actually allow for people to reduce their carbon footprint, not increase it.

And it isn’t just emissions that are reduced by zoning reform. The same goes for water usage. According to the peer reviewed journal Landscape and Urban Planning, single family irrigation rates are 48 per cent higher than multi family housing units.

Now, Hamilton has somewhat taken housing affordability seriously since Mayor Horwath took office. In fact, as leader of Ontario’s NDP she campaigned on zoning reform province wide. The city is currently in its “public meetings and stakeholder working groups” phase of its inclusionary zoning initiative, with policy change expected for the end of 2023.

Mayor Horwath, and city council, should be looking at Toronto and aggressively moving that timeline forward, because with every month supply fails to meet demand, home prices and rents increase. Now it is Hamilton’s turn to end exclusionary zoning.

Originally published here

Agriculture set to become next hot political issue

Whether it’s Mexico’s threat of banning the import of American corn, or the five-year revamp of the American Farm Bill, agriculture is not merely about growing food. As the politics of farming affects the livelihoods of each American, it transforms agricultural policy into an electoral issue.

The Biden administration recently announced the creation of a $1 billion grant fund to aid farmers in their renewable energy transition. The money comes from the Inflation Reduction Act and seeks to allow ranchers and rural farmers to make investments in their green energy efficiency. It is one of the many instances in which governments are seeking to reshape farming policies to match green agendas – whether it’s in Washington or over in Europe.

Agriculture is blamed for many environmental woes of our time, from carbon dioxide to methane and nitrous oxide emissions, despite the fact that the sector has for decades ensured that Americans buy their food at affordable prices while reducing its environmental footprint, especially compared to Europe. These “green” funding mechanisms act as a means to buy the consent of farmers who are constantly affected by stringent regulations on their profession. Arguably, there is leeway for politicians to buy the silence of farmers by simply injecting more subsidies into the equation, yet there are also discernible limits. One government that found that out the hard way is the Netherlands.

When the Dutch government decided to phase out a large chunk of livestock farming by simply buying farmers out of their profession, they took to the streets, setting hay bales on fire and blocking Amsterdam’s busy airport. The international news attention and the upset of the local population over food price inflation led to the Farmer’s Movement taking most seats in the recent Senate elections in the Netherlands, putting pressure on the government to change course. In fact, the effect of farmers turning into politicians has had ripple effects on European politics. The European People’s Party (EPP), the largest political group in the European Parliament (the legislative body of the European Union), now rejects the goal of the EU of cutting pesticide use by 50% by 2030. This puts one of the cornerstone policies of the European Green Deal in jeopardy.

In the United States, the vote of farmers themselves has been cornered by Republicans, who raked up a vast majority of their vote in 2016, according to polls. Under the Trump administration, a large section of Obama-era regulatory controls were rolled back. America’s most popular weed killer, atrazine, was no longer a target by the EPA, and the insecticide chlorpyrifos was re-authorized. However, the Biden administration has picked up where Obama left off, leaving farmers in a state of insecurity at a time when affordable food is in increasingly shorter supply. Granted, compared to Europe, where politicians are grappling with the very palpable geopolitics of Ukrainian grain imports and Russian fertilizer supplies, the American food system appears very resilient. That said, if the White House chooses – as it increasingly does – to go down a European-style agricultural reform, it jeopardizes the food security of Americans and the livelihood of farmers.

For Massachusetts, crop protection rules are as important as in states with larger agricultural production. Crops such as corn, tomatoes, blueberries, potatoes, pumpkins and other greenhouse and nursery crops represent a well over $100 million industry. Adding to that, if Massachusetts were to be compelled to enforce nitrous oxide emissions reductions such as those sought out in the Netherlands, it would decimate the over $80 million dairy and livestock sector in the state.

Food crops must compete with 30,000 species of weeds, 3,000 species of nematodes and 10,000 species of plant-eating insects. Despite the fact that chemical crop protection is used, farmers still lose between 20% and 40% of their crops each year. The more we restrict the toolbox available to farmers to fight pests, the less productive they can be. Innovation in the farming sector is key to improving the profitability of farms, and while USDA has understood the importance of new technologies, regulators and politicians need to understand that before they can realistically phase out the old, the new needs to be affordable and available to them.

A lot of agricultural policy is niche policy talk for nerds, but since the COVID-19 pandemic, voters have identified two key ways in which it affects their lives: is the food on the shelves, and how much does it cost? The ramifications of Biden’s regulatory approach to farming affect both of these questions, and that, politically seen, isn’t good news for Democrats.

Originally published here

Belajar dari Kebijakan Harm Reduction di Inggris untuk Mengurangi Jumlah Konsumsi Rokok

Industri vape atau rokok elektrik saat ini menjadi salah satu industri yang mengalami peningkatan dari tahun ke tahun. Saat ini, kita bisa dengan mudah menemukan berbagai orang yang menggunakan vape atau rokok elektrik dalam keseharian mereka, khususnya kita yang tinggal di kota-kota besar di seluruh Indonesia.

Pada tahun 2018 lalu misalnya, jumlah pengguna vape atau rokok elektrik di Indonesia adalah sebesar 1,2 juta. Berdasarkan data dari Kementerian Perindustrian, angka tersebut meningkat signifikan pada tahun 2020, menjadi 2,2 juta pengguna vape yang ada di Indonesia (vapemagz.co.id, 24/01/2021).

Semakin pesatnya industri vape yang ada di Indonesia ini juga tentunya membawa dampak terhadap perekonomian, salah satunya pembukaan lapangan kerja. Pada tahun 2022 kemarin misalnya, berdasarkan data dari Asosiasi Personal Vaporizer Indonesia (APVI), terdapat lebih dari 100 distributor atau agen dan 200 produsen vape yang ada di Indonesia. Hal tersebut telah mampu menyerap sekitar 80.000 sampai dengan 100.000 tenaga kerja (liputan6.com, 13/6/2022).

Akan tetapi, tentunya tidak sedikit pihak-pihak yang memiliki kekhawatiran dan pandangan negatif terhadap semakin meningkatnya industri vape tersebut. Beberapa organisasi medis di Indonesia misalnya, meminta pemerintah untuk melarang peredaran vape karena dianggap sama berbahayanya dengan rokok konvensional yang dibakar. Tidak hanya itu, beberapa waktu lalu misalnya, Wakil Presiden Republik Indonesia, Maaruf Amin, juga menyatakan bahwa vape atau rokok elektrik bisa dilarang bila terbukti berbahaya (cnnindonesia.com, 27/01/2023).

Padahal, sudah beberapa tahun yang lalu, lembaga kesehatan dari beberapa negara di dunia sudah mengeluarkan laporan yang menyatakan bahwa vape atau rokok elektrik merupakan produk yang jauh lebih tidak berbahaya bila dibandingkan dengan rokok konvensional yang dibakar. Sangat penting dicatat bahwa, jauh lebih tidak berbahaya bukan berarti tidak ada bahayanya sama sekali. Bahaya tetap ada, tetapi jauh lebih kecil, dan oleh karena itu bisa digunakan sebagai produk alternatif.

Lembaga kesehatan publik asal Inggris, Public Health England (PHE) misalnya, pada tahun 2015 lalu, mengeluarkan laporan yang menyatakan bahwa vape atau rokok elektrik merupakan produk yang 95% lebih aman bila dibandingkan dengan rokok konvensional yang dibakar. Untuk itu, Pemerintah Inggris menganjurkan konsumsi vape sebagai salah satu langkah yang bisa digunakan oleh warganya yang menjadi perokok, untuk membantu mereka menghentikan kebiasaan merokoknya yang sangat berbahaya bagi kesehatan (theguardian.com, 28/12/2018).

Pemerintah Inggris juga memberlakukan berbagai kebijakan yang ditujukan untuk membantu warganya berhenti merokok. Negara kerajaan tersebut sendiri memiliki jumlah perokok yang tidak sedikit. Pada tahun 2021 lalu misalnya, diestimasikan ada sekitar 6,6 juta populasi perokok aktif yang ada di Inggris, yang merupakan sekitar 13,3% dari populasi (ons.gov.uk, 6/12/2022).

Ada beberapa program yang dilaksanakan oleh pemerintah Inggris untuk menanggulangi kenaikan dan mengurangi jumlah populasi perokok aktif yang ada di negara tersebut. Salah satunya adalah, pada bulan April lalu, pemerintah Inggris mengumumkan akan mengesahkan program baru, yakni dengan memberikan alat vape bebas nikotin gratis kepada 1.000.000 perokok aktif yang ada di negara tersebut (filtermag.org, 13/4/2023).

Tidak hanya melalui pemberian alat vape gratis, pemerintah Inggris juga akan menyediakan program untuk mengubah kebiasaan para perokok untuk berhenti merokok dan beralih ke produk alternatif lain yang lebih aman. Program ini sendiri rencananya akan dilaksanakan selama dua tahun, dan dikhususkan kepada komunitas-komunitas yang rentan terhadap adiksi rokok, seperti komunitas berpenghasilan rendah dan kelompok-kelompok marjinal.

Tujuan utama dari program ini sendiri adalah menjadikan Inggris sebagai negara dengan tingkat perokok yang sangat rendah. Angka yang menjadi target dari program ini sendiri adalah, jumlah populasi perokok di Inggris bisa mencapai di bawah 5% pada tahun 2030.

Langkah yang dilakukan oleh pemerintah Inggris ini tentu merupakan sesuatu yang sangat patut untuk diapresiasi, dan juga bisa dijadikan contoh kebijakan yang bisa diberlakukan oleh negara-negara lain, terutama negara-negara dengan jumlah perokok aktif yang tinggi. Indonesia sendiri, sebagai salah satu negara dengan jumlah perokok aktif tertinggi di dunia, justru sepertinya memberlakukan kebijakan yang terbalik dari apa yang dilakukan oleh Inggris terkait dengan kebijakan harm reduction.

Pada akhir tahun lalu misalnya, pemerintah memutuskan untuk meningkatkan cukai cairan vape di Indonesia sebesar 15%. Hal ini tentu niscaya akan meningkatkan harga rokok elektrik yang dijual di Indonesia, dan akan lebih sulit untuk menarik para konsumen, khususnya mereka yang masuk dalam kelompok menengah ke bawah yang mendominasi populasi perokok aktif yang ada di Indonesia.

Sebagai penutup, sebagai salah satu negara dengan jumlah perokok terbesar di dunia, sudah seharusnya Indonesia memberlakukan kebijakan yang berfokus pada harm reduction. Sehubungan dengan hal tersebut, langkah kebijakan yang diambil oleh pemerintah Inggris bisa menjadi salah satu contoh kebijakan yang bisa dijadikan acuan.

Originally published here

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