Day: July 20, 2023

Central and Eastern Europe would be hit hard by new rules on essential oils

Essential oil products generate hundreds of millions euros for several countries in Central and Eastern Europe. New rules threaten the industry.

New rules by the European Union’s Chemical Agency (ECHA) would significantly impact the commercialisation and use of essential oil products. 

This includes a wide variety of products consumers use, including everything from perfumes and other fragrances, to humidifier scents and insect repellents. The agency intends to adopt a new way of measuring harm caused by chemicals that doesn’t take into account the actual dosage that consumers will be exposed to.

It is unfortunate that the ECHA has chosen this exact moment to put overly restrictive chemical regulations in place. 

Following the European Green Deal’s footsteps and its vision of a toxic-free environment, the ECHA is replacing careful risk assessments based on actual exposure levels with a sweeping hazard-based approach grounded in hypothetical scenarios. The difference in practice between the two is radical. Where the first allows the use of a substance so long as it satisfies a safety threshold, the latter would prohibit compounds so long as something could go wrong.

The regulations will not spare even safe natural products from this effect, including steam and water-distilled (or manually pressed) extracts like essential oils. Under the current framework, policymakers classify them as complex natural substances. But all that would change with the hazard mentality, which would identify essential oils as mixtures of “more than one constituent substance” and restrict them as though they were volatile artificial materials, by legislation EU 2021/1902 on “toxic cosmetics”.

Impact in Central and Eastern Europe

The new ECHA guidelines will make it unfeasible for the sizeable Central and Eastern European essential oils industry to bring goods to the market. 

The businesses in Bulgaria’s famous Rose Valley harvest around two tonnes of rose oil yearly and earn 445 million euros for the country in exports of essential oils and toiletries. Similarly, the Tedre farm in Estonia produces 2.5 hectares of world-class raspberries and extracts raspberry oil based on a proprietary carbon monoxide method. Lithuania created 379.9 million euros worth of cosmetics exports from mint, chamomile, juniper, and spruce emulsions. 

Finally, Hungary benefits from 713.78 million euros of beauty industry exports. If only one part of a rose, raspberry, or mint product could be toxic or highly allergic, their goods will receive a harsh warning label at best. At worst, policymakers will make sure that they cannot commercialise these products at all. 

Firms in Bulgaria, Estonia, Lithuania, and other Central and Eastern European countries are smaller than most international conglomerates and cannot pay the extra costs of compliance; instead, they will withdraw their goods from exchange entirely.

The last thing Central and Eastern Europeans need right now is needless red tape complicating consumers’ daily lives.  The ECHA’s overly cautious approach would only add fuel to the fire. Inflation, the general rise in prices across the economy, has hit Central and Eastern European countries harder than most, leaving most people unable to afford as much as they did before and devaluing their savings. 

Annual inflation rates are projected to be higher than the 2023 EU average of 7.1 per cent (6.1 in the euro area) in countries such as Bulgaria (8.6 per cent), Lithuania (10.7 per cent), Estonia (11.2 per cent), and Hungary (a whopping 21.9 per cent). Yet the hazard-based process will ultimately exacerbate inflationary pressures.

Convincing the EU to change course

As the insights of economics show, the lower supply coupled with the same demand results in higher prices, driving inflation forward and causing more suffering to ordinary buyers. For all its good intentions, the hazard-based mentality will deteriorate Central and Eastern European consumers’ purchasing power and living standards.

The way to stop the worst scenario from materialising is to convince EU regulators to change course. 

Some member states, Bulgaria among them, have already acted via the Permanent Representatives Committee. 

On June 30 this year, the Committee requested the European Commission re-evaluate the status of essential oils as “more than one constituent substance” four years into the new legislation. All Central and Eastern European states should support the request. 

Moreover, they should champion the reinstatement of a risk-based mentality as the only science-driven option that keeps consumers safe without sacrificing their economic well-being. 

Central and Eastern Europeans would have one less thing to worry about.   

Originally published here

Pentingnya Peran Pelaku Industri Vape untuk Mencegah Penyalahgunaan Produk

Rokok elektrik, yang dikenal juga dengan istilah vape, saat ini merupakan salah satu produk yang semakin banyak dikonsumsi oleh berbagai kalangan. Saat ini, khususnya kita yang tinggal di daerah perkotaan, bisa dengan mudah menemukan berbagai pengguna vape, dan juga pertokoan yang menjual berbagai produk rokok elektrik dengan segala variasinya.

Ada berbagai alasan mengapa vape atau rokok elektrik mengalami peningkatan konsumen. Beberapa diantaranya adalah variasi rasa rokok elektrik yang sangat beragam dibandingkan dengan rokok konvensional, harganya yang lebih murah, khususnya bagi perokok aktif yang biasanya mengkonsumsi rokok dalam jumlah besar, hingga kandungan vape yang jauh lebih tidak berbahaya bila dibandingkan dengan rokok konvensional yang dibakar.

Tetapi di sisi lain, dengan semakin banyaknya pengguna rokok elektrik, tentu muncul berbagai penyalahgunaan terhadap produk vape yang ridak semestinya. Dan tidak jarang, berbagai penyalahgunaan tersebut juga menimbulkan korban. Misalnya, kejadian yang terjadi di Amerika Serikat beberapa waktu lalu, di mana ada beberapa pengguna vape yang meninggal setelah menggunakan produk vape palsu. Pemilik usaha vape palsu tersebut akhirnya segera ditangkap oleh pihak yang berwajib (npr.org, 9/10/2019).

Adanya produk vape ilegal, sama seperti produk-produk ilegal lainnya, tentu merupakan sesuatu yang sangat berbahaya bagi konsumen dan harus segera diatasi. Jangan sampai, banyak orang menjadi mengalami sakit hingga meninggal karena menggunakan produk-produk yang berbahaya.

Berbagai bentuk penyalahgunaan ini tentu bukan hanya hal yang terjadi di Amerika Serikat saja. Di Indonesia misalnya, ada berbagai praktik penyalahgunaan rokok elektrik atau vape yang bisa kita temui di berbagai tempat, dan harus dapat segera kita atasi.

Salah satunya misalnya, konsumen rokok elektrik di bawa umur. Padahal, vape atau rokok elektrik, sebagaimana produk-produk lain seperti rokok dan alkohol, merupakan produk-produk yang diperuntukkan untuk orang dewasa. Anak-anak merupakan kelompok usia yang harus dilarang mengkonsumsi berbagai produk-produk tersebut, dan siapa pun yang terlibat dalam penjualan produk rokok elektrik kepada anak-anak harus diberi sanksi.

Contoh lainnya misalnya adalah konsumsi vape yang dilakukan oleh ibu hamil. Hal ini tentu juga bukan sesuatu yang tepat untuk dilakukan. Tidak seharusnya, vape atau rokok elektrik dikonsumsi oleh perempuan hamil karena berpotensi menimbulkan berbagai dampak yang tidak diinginkan bagi bayi yang dikandungnya.

Agar permasalahan penyalahgunaan tersebut bisa diatasi dengan baik, tentu aksi keterlibatan dari aparat penegak hukum untuk menindak pihak-pihak yang melanggar saja tidak cukup. Dibutuhkan pula peran aktif dan para pelaku usaha untuk terlibat secara langsung untuk mengatasi berbagai penyalahgunaan produk-produk rokok elektrik tersebut, yang tidak jarang dilakukan.

Berita baiknya, para pelaku usaha rokok elektrik di Indonesia bersedia mengambil langkah tersebut. Beberapa waktu lalu, asosiasi pelaku usaha vape, Asosiasi Personal Vaporizer Indonesia (APVI), menyatakan bahwa mereka berkomitmen untuk membantu pemerintah dalam mencegah penyalahgunaan berbagai produk vape dan roko elektrik (finance.detik.com, 4/7/2023).

Ada beberapa langkah yang akan dilakukan oleh APVI sebagai wujud komitmen asosiasi tersebut dalam membantu pemerintah melakukan pencegahan penyalahgunaan rokok elektrik. Diantaranya adalah, aturan asosiasi bagi apra anggota APVI untuk tidak menjual produk-produk tersebut kepada anak-anak, perempuan hamil, dan juga orang-orang yang tidak merokok. Selain itu, APVI juga berkomitmen untuk melakukan edukasi publik untuk memperkecil potensi penyalahgunaan produk-produk vape.

Tetapi pada saat yang sama, APVI juga mengatakan bahwa sangat penting bagi pemerintah untuk dapat bersikap objektif terhadap kajian-kajian yang ada di luar negeri mengenai produk nikotin alternatif seperti vape. Sebagaimana yang sudah disampaikan oleh lembaga-lembaga kesehatan dunia seperti Public Health England dari Inggris, vape atau rokok elektrik merupakan produk yang 95% jauh lebih tidak berbahaya bila dibandingkan dengan rokok konvensional yang dibakar (gov.uk, 19/8/2015)

Sikap objektif dari pemerintah terhadap berbagai kajian tersebut tentu merupakan sesuatu yang sangat penting untuk mencegah misinformasi mengenai vape dan rokok elektrik. Melalui hasil kajian tersebut, tentu diharapkan akan semakin banyak perokok yang berhenti merokok dan beralih ke produk alternatif yang jauh lebih tidak berbahaya untuk membantu mereka menghentikan kebiasaan merokoknya.

Tidak hanya dari sisi pelaku usaha, organisasi konsumen vape juga menyatakan komitmen mereka untuk mencegah penyalahgunaan vape dan produk nikotin alternatif. Aliansi Vapers Indonesia (AVI), yang merupakan organisasi konsumen vape, menyatkan bahwa mereka mendukung upaya APVI untuk mencegah peyalahgunaan produk-produk vape melalui berbagai kegiatan kampanye dan sosialisasi. Selain itu, AVI juga mengkampanyekan kepada para anggotanya untuk ikut turut menyebarkan informasi tentang hal tersebut (finance.detik.com, 4/7/2023).

Sebagai penutup, komitmen yang ditunjukkan oleh APVI dan juga AVI ini untuk mencegah berbagai penyalahgunaan rokok elektrik dan produk nikotin alternatif tentu sesuatu yang patut untuk didukung dan diapresiasi. Diharapkan, melalui komitmen ini, sosialisasi dan kampanye mengenai pencegahan penyalahgunaan tersebut dapat semakin masif, dan akan semakin sedikit orang-orang yang menggunakan rokok elektrik secara yang bukan semestinya.

Originally published here

PFAS ban could do more harm than good

News broke last month that 3M has agreed to pay out $10.3 billion in settlement payments in response to lawsuits claiming that their per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, contaminated drinking water. The funds are supposed to be used to filter PFAS from water supplies where it has been detected, and test for other sites of contamination. 

This is especially important for Mainers, where legislators have begun a process to ban PFAS in consumer products sold in the state. One might think that the 3M settlement proves Maine is on the right track, but it isn’t that simple.

Even the mention of toxic chemicals interacting with the environment is frightening, but 3M’s settlement is not like the example of DuPont, a multinational chemical company that released PFAS, which have contaminated groundwater, into a North Carolina river. The case looms large in the minds of everyday people, in much the same way as Norfolk Southern’s catastrophic train derailment in East Palestine this past February. 

The lawsuits for 3M stem primarily from communities that have been contaminated by the use of firefighting foam containing PFAS. This is an important distinction because when it comes to regulating PFAS and how it is both used and produced firefighting foam is a unique challenge. 

It’s a challenge because there really is no way to contain the foam after use. When these foams are used to put out jet fuel fires at military bases or airports, the top priority is rightly to put out the fire. The chemicals used to suppress the blaze leech into the ground, which is how water becomes contaminated. Shifting away from the regular use of these foams will be a difficult, but necessary step in protecting drinking water.

There are a variety of uses for PFAS that don’t represent nearly the same risk as firefighting foams, and those should not be restricted in the same way. While PFAS are often used for more trivial things like waterproof jackets and non-stick cookware, they are also used for necessary medical devices and the production of semiconductors. 

The Federal Drug Administration has continuously approved both drugs and devices that contain PFAS. Most people don’t seem to know that the medical community is heavily reliant on products using PFAS for the production of medical implants like vascular grafts, stent grafts, surgical meshes, catheter tubes and wiring, as well as heart patches. 

Today it is estimated that roughly 10 percent of Americans have implantable medical devices, many of which rely on PFAS and are approved by the FDA. In fact, the $72.2 billion implantable medical devices market is expected to grow significantly as the American population grows older on average. Those aging individuals are very likely to come in contact with numerous prescription drugs for inflammation, cholesterol and arthritis that contain PFAS.

For semiconductors, manufacturers say PFAS are a vital part of the production process, primarily because of their chemical resistance and surface tension-lowering properties. This makes the chips durable and resistant to liquids and erosion. Efforts to ban PFAS outright from all consumer products, like has been suggested in Maine, may seriously jeopardize chip manufacturing and ultimately make the chip shortage much worse before it gets better. 

This is where the PFAS debate gets geopolitical. You have states like Maine looking to ban PFAS, while the federal government is promoting domestic microchip production.

It may be that banning PFAS production in the United States doesn’t eliminate the demand for PFAS throughout the supply chain. Microchip producers may end up importing these chemicals to avoid a domestic chip shortage. This is no easy task, given that in 2019, the most recent year for which production data are available, the U.S. domestically produced 625 million pounds of PFAS and imported only 54 million pounds. A 571 million pound shortfall is a significant sum, much of which would likely be imported from China. Not ideal.

While protecting drinking water is a noble goal, and one worth pursuing, legislators must not sacrifice key medical necessities and semiconductor production in the process. Doing so would do far more harm than good.

Originally published here

FTC loses case to block Microsoft Activision $69B deal

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission cannot stop Microsoft’s proposed $69 billion purchase of Activision Blizzard, a California judge ruled on Tuesday.

The deal, originally announced 17 months ago, can now move forward by the July 18 deadline. 

In her ruling, Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley said, “Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision has been described as the largest in tech history,” and “it deserves scrutiny.”

Microsoft has committed in writing, in public, and in court to keep Call of Duty on PlayStation for 10 years on parity with Xbox,” she continued. “It made an agreement with Nintendo to bring Call of Duty to Switch. And it entered several agreements for the first-time to bring Activision’s content to several cloud gaming services.”

“The Court finds the FTC has not shown a likelihood it will prevail on its claim this particular vertical merger in this specific industry may substantially lessen competition, and “the motion for a preliminary injunction is therefore denied,” Corley added.

The Activision purchase will give Microsoft ownership of popular video game titles like Call of Duty, World of Warcraft and Candy Crush.

The FTC wanted to block the deal because the trade regulator believed Activision’s incorporation into Microsoft would hurt competition in the video game industry.

In an interview with FOX Business, Stephen Kent at the Consumer Choice Center, said “Judge Corley showed a deep respect for consumer interest, namely the gamers who will be most impacted by Microsoft acquiring Activision-Blizzard. 

“Biden’s FTC under Lina Khan has shown no interest in consumer protection, as illustrated throughout the hearings and pointed out on the final day by Judge Corley herself,” he said. “President Biden should be taking note of how poor FTC Chair Lina Khan has been at her job, and how far she’s strayed from the mission of consumer protection.”

Read the full text here

Judge Strikes Another Blow Against Biden’s Activist FTC With Ruling in Microsoft-Activision Merger

A federal judge in California struck another blow against President Biden’s activist Federal Trade Commission chief, Lina Khan, by denying a government request to block Microsoft’s pending acquisition of gaming giant Activision Blizzard.

Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley of California’s Northern District said Tuesday the FTC failed to make a compelling case that the $70 billion deal between the two tech giants would harm consumer choice in the video game market. She denied the agency’s request for a preliminary injunction blocking the transaction until it could fight the merger at an internal court.

“The FTC has not raised serious questions regarding whether the proposed merger is likely to substantially lessen competition in the console, library subscription services, or cloud gaming markets,” Judge Corley wrote.

Consumer advocates praised the ruling as yet another rebuke for Ms. Khan, one of the more activist FTC leaders in recent memory. A Biden appointee, Ms. Khan has been crusading against what she has called “exploitative,” “collusive,” and “abusive” tactics in the technology industry, using the FTC’s antitrust oversight as her primary bludgeon. Another judge blocked the FTC’s attempt earlier this year to stop Meta from taking over a virtual reality fitness company, Within Unlimited.

“The FTC set out, it seems, to protect the business interests of Sony’s PlayStation, completely ignoring their duty to regulate in the interest of American consumers,” the media director for the Consumer Choice Center, Stephen Kent, said. “President Biden should be taking note of how poor FTC Chair Lina Khan has been at her job, and how far she’s strayed from the mission of consumer protection.”

Read the full text here

The value of social media for Hungary

As a former member of parliament in Hungary, I know firsthand how the Orbán regime has weaponised media outlets in the country to serve the purpose of government propaganda and its reelection campaigns. Many Europeans have seen the crass billboards attacking European institutions and demonizing refugees.

However, Orbán’s media leverage goes well beyond billboards that your average Hungarian can ignore: most of our principal news publications act as mouthpieces for the government, defaming the opposition or anyone who contradicts government-approved talking points.

I received this treatment myself when I ran for re-election when I had to experience the two very extreme cases of being ignored by the local outlets during my term as if I did not exist or, as the election neared, a full-scale smear campaign that was launched against me with no factual basis.

Only a few independent media outlets remain in Hungary. As a result, Hungarians wishing to speak truth to power have taken to social media sites.

Nowhere else could you even imagine directly messaging and tagging elected officials, organizing protests, and sharing experiences that unearth everyday corruption in Hungary?

The Orbán regime uses social media to its advantage through a network of paid influencers who echo Fidesz’s narrative.

Read the full text here

Move aspartame way down your worry list

Lots of things are ‘possibly’ carcinogenic, depending how and in what quantities you consume them

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), a body associated with the World Health Organization, recently announced it will classify the artificial sweetener aspartame as “possibly carcinogenic.” The agency has yet to reveal the full data set on which this decision is based but whatever the upcoming release says, the announcement already has many consumers worried about their intake of sugar substitutes.

The truth is that aspartame is safe for consumption. The WHO’s new classification says more about flaws in the agency’s risk communication strategy than it does about aspartame.

IARC categorizes what it calls “agents” into four categories of carcinogen. Group 1 includes those where there is strong evidence of a link with cancer — radiation, for instance, or opium and tobacco. Group 3 agents have been analyzed and shown not to pose any cancer risk whatsoever. To the relief of many readers no doubt, one Group 3 agent is caffeine. Group 2A comprises those agents that are “probably carcinogenic,” indicating a higher risk than in Group 2B, which lists those agents that are “possibly carcinogenic” — which is where aspartame is going.

To determine whether an agent is carcinogenic or not, IARC does a hazard-based assessment, meaning it looks at an agent’s potential to cause harm, not the likelihood it actually will. But IARC is not a food safety agency and its findings say nothing about whether reasonable consumption would constitute a risk for consumers. In the case of aspartame, an individual weighing 60 kilograms would need to drink 12 to 36 cans a day of aspartame-sweetened soda to raise his or her potential cancer risk beyond baseline levels — which is why aspartame has been permitted for use in Canada and many other jurisdictions for over 40 years. While it is unclear how much of an increase you assume at the 12-36 drink range, it is likely less than one one-hundredth of a per cent, in absolute terms. Below this amount of consumption, consumers are not at risk.

Consumers need to understand that the responsibilities of the IARC are very different from those of the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) and that it uses quite different methods. JECFA has never found aspartame to be carcinogenic, while IARC, in the long list of products it has evaluated, almost always finds agents to be carcinogenic — because it does not take into account how much a reasonable consumer will take in.

For aspartame to be included in the 2B (i.e., “possible carcinogen”) category, only one of the following characteristics needs to be met: “limited evidence of carcinogenicity in humans, or sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity in experimental animals, or strong mechanistic evidence, showing that the agent exhibits key characteristics of human carcinogens.” “Limited evidence” means the agency does not need to establish a linear relationship between the agent and cancer in the same way it does in Group 1. This makes the “possibly” in “possibly carcinogenic” do a lot of heavy lifting.

The problem with IARC’s classifications is that ultimately they give consumers very limited information. When we remove exposure levels, i.e., dosage, from the equation, almost anything can become harmful. The sun is harmful on a hot summer day, yet most consumers limit their exposure by applying sunscreen or seeking shade. While there are instances in which the sun could be considered carcinogenic, it wouldn’t be good risk communication to label it as a cancer-causing agent, and therefore something to be avoided at all costs — not without alerting consumers to the fact that there is a healthy amount of sunshine they should feel comfortable getting. Just as there is an excessive amount of sunshine that would cause cancer, there is an excessive amount of aspartame that theoretically could too. However, most consumers don’t sunbathe to a cancer-inducing level or drink 10 litres of diet pop a day.

Aspartame and similar food additives have helped us move away from an additive we probably should consume with more care: sugar. Overconsumption of sugar can lead to significant health problems, including obesity and diabetes. Scaring people off artificial sweeteners by blurring the realities of risk perception risks pushing them back to sugar-sweetened drinks that are ultimately worse for them.

The classification of aspartame as a possible carcinogen also opens the floodgates for an entirely different scourge: tort lawyers. Especially in the United States, IARC’s hazard-based assessments have abetted class-action lawsuits that in jury-based trials have frivolously extracted millions of dollars from the manufacturers of safe products. This may enable some trial lawyers to afford high-rise apartments in New York but does little to advance public health.

Cancer is a major problem in our society, and more effort should be made to persuade consumers to modify behaviour that increases their risk of it. That said, advisory decisions such as the aspartame warning do the public health debate a disservice by distorting risk perceptions and feeding into conspiracies about the global food industry poisoning consumers.

Originally published here

Kennedy Saves You From A Boring Summer

Isn’t it cool when people blend their brilliant ideas with technology? Well, residents in Montgomery County, Maryland disagree and are voicing their concerns over private pools being rented out to strangers looking to beat the heat, by using the app Swimply.  Media Director for the Consumer Choice Center and Contributing Editor at The Washington Examiner Stephen Kent joins Kennedy to discuss the regulations the county will try to put in place to control the “pool Airbnb.”

Listen here

DCA rules for flights is a drag for consumers

Flying into Washington, D.C. is not the best experience. While the D.C. metro area may boast three major international airports, service into the heart of the nation’s capital is sorely lacking. Countless passengers will find that they can’t fly into Ronald Reagan National Airport (DCA), nearest to the Pentagon and the famous Washington Mall, and instead must land 30-45 minutes out at Dulles International (IAD) or Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI). Atop the inconvenience of inbound and outbound travel from Washington, D.C., consumers can expect longer flight times, inflated ticket prices, and increased delays. How did it get this way? 

A new analysis by the American Action Forum highlights how Washington D.C. got to be such a mess for travelers. Unknown to many, DCA is the only airport in the country hamstrung by a federal regulation known as a “perimeter rule,” which limits inbound and outbound nonstop flights to a 1,250-mile radius. The airport also contends with a high-density rule called a “slot rule,” intended to manage congestion at DCA. 

As laid out by the American Action Forum, 

“The perimeter rule, established in 1966, restricted non-stop service to and from DCA to 650 miles. The rule was put in place primarily to encourage passengers to use the recently opened Dulles International Airport (IAD) located approximately 30 miles west of DCA in Virginia. The rule effectively limited DCA to serve as a short-haul airport while IAD serves as a long-haul airport. The perimeter was expanded in 1981 to 1,000 miles before being expanded again in 1986 to the current 1,250-mile perimeter. The “slot rule” is a federal regulation to manage congestion at five high density airports: Reagan National, JFK, LaGuardia, Newark and O’Hare. A slot is simply a reservation for an arrival or a departure. DCA is limited to 60 slots per hour.” 

On numerous occasions, Congress has authorized the Department of Transportation to grant limited exemptions to the slot regulations. NYC has gotten to make use of these exemptions more frequently since 2000. DCA Slot restrictions at DCA however, are much less common. In that same time period, only 32 “beyond-perimeter” and 20 “within-perimeter” slot exemptions have been issued to D.C.’s primary airport.

Consumers everywhere should be asking themselves – is Washington, D.C. or any major metro, the same as it was in 1981 or 1966? The needs of travelers have changed dramatically, as has the technical capacity of D.C. area airports who serve them. “The population of Northern Virginia, where IAD is located, has more than tripled since the 1970s,” explains the American Action Forum’s Fred Ashton, “Air travel demand has also increased. Between 1999–2019, the number of passengers carried at DCA increased from 13.9 million to 23.6 million. Similarly, the IAD passenger count went from 15.9 million to 24.3. Even with the three expansions of the perimeter rule over this period, passenger volume at IAD increased by over 50 percent.”

Travelers today find themselves being forced to land 30 miles outside of D.C. at Dulles International, because of concerns in 1966 that Dulles would be underutilized. That world is obviously long gone. Consumers today need more choice, not forced visits to Dulles.  

Population density is not the only thing that’s changed. As of today, 28% of Fortune 500 companies are based beyond the arbitrary 1,250-mile perimeter, approximately double the 14% back when the perimeter rule was instituted in 1966. 

Competition between airports is part of the business, especially in a city with more than one point of entry such as D.C., NYC, Los Angeles or Dallas Fort-Worth. When a traveler is scanning Google Flights for the best way in or out of Washington, D.C., they may not even realize that the option of DCA is made to be more expensive. 

“Because of the restrictions on DCA, fierce competition for flight routes demanded by consumers is lacking, and consequently, ticket prices are higher. A recent study found that Washington, D.C. ranked as the most expensive for all domestic flights and beyond-perimeter flights compared to other U.S. metro-area airports. The same study also found that customers would save approximately $75 roundtrip if their beyond-perimeter tickets were priced at average levels. Moreover, because beyond-perimeter flights into DCA are limited, many passengers must stop at an airport inside the perimeter before reaching their destination. Rep. Burgess Owens (R-UT) highlighted that these “unnecessary connections result in lost time, as 40 percent of beyond-perimeter passengers must stop at least once.”

Removing the perimeter rule at DCA would afford airlines the flexibility to adjust flight schedules to better meet the demand of customers. Potential changes could lead to more airlines creating routes that directly compete for customers and likely result in lower ticket prices.”

The best course of action in the interest of consumers would be for Congress to eliminate the perimeter rule, giving airlines at DCA the ability to offer more flights in competition with IAD. One measure which would be a step in the right direction would be the Direct Capital Access Act, brought forward by Representatives Hank Johnson (D-GA) and Owens in the House and Senators Raphael Warnock (D-GA) and Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) in the Senate.

Explained further by Fred Ashton,

“The bill proposes an additional 56 exemptions, or 28 round trips, to in- and beyond-perimeter flights. Forty of these slots will be given to incumbent air carriers “qualifying for status as a non-limited incumbent carrier and 16 available to incumbent carriers qualifying for status as a limited incumbent carrier at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport.” Carriers awarded these extra slots may operate up to a maximum of eight.”

Travel can be stressful enough as it is for consumers without artificially imposed barriers to efficiency and competition in the Washington, D.C. market. The Consumer Choice Center works tirelessly to promote policy that enhances choice, innovation, and abundance in 100 countries worldwide. That’s why we released our own report on the best airport experiences in Europe titled the 2023 European Consumer Airport Index. Zurich, Brussels, and Frankfurt lead the way in Europe for top notch travel experiences, and we’ll be part of the fight to get Washington, D.C. back on track with more competition and better prices for consumers. 

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