FDA’s menthol ban and vaping restrictions will have consequences

CONTACT:
Jeff Stier
Senior Fellow
Consumer Choice Center
[email protected]

FDA’s menthol ban and vaping restrictions will have consequences

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Last week, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb announced severe sales and flavor restrictions on vaping products and introduced a new ban on menthol flavors in combustible tobacco products.

Reacting to the news, Consumer Choice Center senior fellow Jeff Stier said the plan is riddled with flaws.

“Banning menthol cigarettes will lead to increased youth smoking, especially in minority communities, where a ban would spark illegal markets reminiscent of the days of alcohol prohibition,” said Stier.

Writing in USA Today, he pointed out that various civil rights and police organizations have come out united against the policy, stating that is is both discriminatory toward minority communities and would eat up precious time and resources for police officers.

“When Congress gave the FDA authority to regulate recreational lower-risk nicotine products, it was with the expectation that the FDA would be able to both discourage youth use and help adults quit smoking. Sadly, to date, the FDA has accomplished little on either front,” said Stier.

“These failures don’t justify a misplaced “crackdown” on e-cigarettes and responsible sellers. They require an aggressive effort to stop the bad actors. Accomplishing that now will require a new FDA policy. And clearly, a new commissioner,” he added.

“The FDA should instead concentrate on two primary goals: Enforce already-existing rules that ban the sale of e-cigarettes to minors, and, as recommended by the American Cancer Society, support adult smokers who attempt to quit with e-cigarettes.”

***CCC Senior Fellow Jeff Stier is available to speak with accredited media on consumer regulations and consumer choice issues. Please send media inquiries HERE.***

The CCC represents consumers in over 100 countries across the globe. We closely monitor regulatory trends in Ottawa, Washington, Brussels, Geneva and other hotspots of regulation and inform and activate consumers to fight for #ConsumerChoice. Learn more at consumerchoicecenter.org.

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About Jeff Stier

Jeff Stier is a Senior Fellow at the Consumer Choice Center. Mr. Stier has been a frequent guest on CNBC, and has addressed health policy on CNN, Fox News Channel, MSNBC, as well as network newscasts. He is a guest on over 100 radio shows a year, including on NPR and top-rated major market shows in cities including Boston, Philadelphia, and Sacramento, plus syndicated regional broadcasts. Jeff’s op-eds have been published in top outlets including The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Post, Forbes, The Washington Examiner, and National Review Online.

Menthol ban will make a bad situation worse

The Food and Drug Administration’s naive plan to ban menthol cigarettes will lead to countless unintended consequences, including increased youth smoking, especially in minority communities, where a ban would spark illegal markets reminiscent of the days of alcohol prohibition.

Kids could easily buy loose cigarettes stored in sealed baggies with unwrapped menthol cough drops. The FDA has failed to enforce its own rules. Consider the agency’s inability to prevent youth use of e-cigarettes, despite an outright federal ban.

One unintended consequence is telling: The ban unites some African-American civil rights leaders and top law enforcement officer groups.

The Rev. Al Sharpton and Ben Chavis, former executive director of the NAACP, harshly criticized the idea last year, claiming that it would “affect black communities more than other communities” and keep police from “solving violent crime and ensuring public safety.”

OUR VIEW: There’s more than just smoke to FDA proposals

Citing a National Research Council report on America’s criminal justice system, they blame policy, not increased crime, for the incarceration crisis. A menthol ban would make a bad situation worse.

The Alabama State Trooper Association, the Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives and other police groups have warned that a ban would create criminal enterprises.

It would also be ineffective. Jeff Washington, a 52-year-old who started smoking menthol Newports when he joined the Army in 1983, told The Wall Street Journal that if menthols were banned, “I’d start smoking Marlboros.”

Rather, Washington should use e-cigarettes. But the FDA, which failed to prevent youth from buying e-cigarettes, is making it harder for him to switch.

President Donald Trump should ask FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, in an exit interview, why the agency couldn’t achieve a central promise of his presidency: Improve our lives not with more regulation but with less of it, wisely implemented.

Jeff Stier is a senior fellow at the Consumer Choice Center.

Originally published at https://eu.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2018/11/15/menthol-ban-makes-bad-situation-worse-editorials-debates/2018265002/

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About Jeff Stier

Jeff Stier is a Senior Fellow at the Consumer Choice Center. Mr. Stier has been a frequent guest on CNBC, and has addressed health policy on CNN, Fox News Channel, MSNBC, as well as network newscasts. He is a guest on over 100 radio shows a year, including on NPR and top-rated major market shows in cities including Boston, Philadelphia, and Sacramento, plus syndicated regional broadcasts. Jeff’s op-eds have been published in top outlets including The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Post, Forbes, The Washington Examiner, and National Review Online.

EU duties on goods from Southeast Asia as a Post-Brexit trade opportunity

Where the EU is walking the plank, the UK should be able to recognise and seize post-Brexit opportunities.

On 6 November, the Italian government asked the European Commission to apply the “safeguard clause” on rice imports from Cambodia and Myanmar in order to protect Italian rice growers. Protectionist measures against southeast Asian countries are not a novelty and have been vehemently backed up by France, Spain, Greece, Portugal, Hungary and Romania.

The EU ‘safeguard clause’ hurts consumers across the EU bloc

Under the ‘safeguard clause’ enshrined in the Treaty of Rome, when imports from a third country jeopardise the trade balance of an EU Member State, it can ask to ‘remedy the situation’, otherwise to introduce trade barriers.

Such interventions pursue a single aim: to protect a specific group from competition. However, whilst taking the producer side protectionism hurts consumers who are the main beneficiaries of free trade.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is the third largest trading partner of the EU. In 2017, co-operation with the ASEAN resulted in the output of more than € 227,3 billion in goods. As part of this economic engagement, the European Union has been actively trading with both Myanmar and Cambodia and therefore using the agricultural imports, in particular rice, to feed up the EU market.

Should the EU choose to act at the whim of Italian rice growers, it will strip consumers all across the bloc of the opportunity to enjoy a great supply of rice and consequently a favourable pricing.

Post-Brexit UK freely trades with Southeast Asia and not only

As of now the UK has a trade deficit with Southeast Asia. In 2016, UK exports in goods and services to Southeast Asia estimated £13.6 billion and UK imports from the region amounted to £18.8 billion.

While it is of no surprise that Singapore as a former UK colony leads the region, Cambodia and Myanmar, which are next in the queue for the EU trade barriers, are important trade partners as well. In 2016, the UK imported £0,9bn in goods and services from Cambodia and £0,2bn from Myanmar.

Even though trade relations between the UK and Southeast Asia countries make up only for a small fraction of a crucially important economic engagement with the EU, they serve as a significant trade field to explore.

Some of potential co-operation channels are bilateral and multilateral free trade agreements between the UK and ASEAN countries. Moreover, once the UK has put the wind back in its sails and left the EU Single Market and the Customs Union, it will also be able to abolish all import tariffs on the goods it doesn’t produce, most of which belong to the agricultural segment, including rice.

Brexit therefore represents a momentous opportunity which has a propensity to change the history of world trade and pivot if away from protectionism. By exiting the EU, the UK is not only saving its consumers from detrimental outcomes of the EU’s protectionism, but also gets a chance to foster its co-operation with Southeast countries and reclaim its heritage as a trading nation.

Originally published at https://www.vocaleurope.eu/eu-duties-on-goods-from-southeast-asia-as-a-post-brexit-trade-opportunity/?fbclid=IwAR2_Z4zLar4ImfsUouDknBAET4Vy7T7Sa-zhikFwG3yXM2xbO1u5bqNBBiY

FDA宣佈對電子煙銷售實施全面新規定

DAILY NEWS SINA: 爲此,美國消費者選擇中心(Consumer Choice Center)高級研究員傑夫·斯蒂爾(Jeff Stier)曾批評稱:“如果FDA不能通過一項嚴厲的監管計劃來實現監管和保護兩個目標,川普總統則應該意識到,FDA目前的領導層沒有能力執行政府的政策議程。”

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About Jeff Stier

Jeff Stier is a Senior Fellow at the Consumer Choice Center. Mr. Stier has been a frequent guest on CNBC, and has addressed health policy on CNN, Fox News Channel, MSNBC, as well as network newscasts. He is a guest on over 100 radio shows a year, including on NPR and top-rated major market shows in cities including Boston, Philadelphia, and Sacramento, plus syndicated regional broadcasts. Jeff’s op-eds have been published in top outlets including The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Post, Forbes, The Washington Examiner, and National Review Online.

FDA Wants To Ban Menthol Cigarettes, Restrict Sales Of E-Cigs

MEDIA POST: Jeff Stier, a senior fellow at the Consumer Choice Center, calls the proposed menthol ban “naive” in an op-ed for USA Today. Stier, who is billed as “a voice for consumers who believe paternalists don’t have a monopoly on public health,” says an outright ban will not only be “ineffective” but also will lead to “countless unintended consequences, including increased youth smoking, especially in minority communities.”

Stier writes: “Kids could easily buy loose cigarettes stored in sealed baggies with unwrapped menthol cough drops.”

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About Jeff Stier

Jeff Stier is a Senior Fellow at the Consumer Choice Center. Mr. Stier has been a frequent guest on CNBC, and has addressed health policy on CNN, Fox News Channel, MSNBC, as well as network newscasts. He is a guest on over 100 radio shows a year, including on NPR and top-rated major market shows in cities including Boston, Philadelphia, and Sacramento, plus syndicated regional broadcasts. Jeff’s op-eds have been published in top outlets including The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Post, Forbes, The Washington Examiner, and National Review Online.

FDA宣布:全面管制电子烟销售

THE CHINA PRESS:   为此,美国消费者选择中心(Consumer Choice Center)高级研究员杰夫·斯蒂尔(Jeff Stier)曾批评称:“如果FDA不能通过一项严厉的监管计划来实现监管和保护两个目标,特朗普总统则应该意识到,FDA目前的领导层没有能力执行政府的政策议程。”

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About Jeff Stier

Jeff Stier is a Senior Fellow at the Consumer Choice Center. Mr. Stier has been a frequent guest on CNBC, and has addressed health policy on CNN, Fox News Channel, MSNBC, as well as network newscasts. He is a guest on over 100 radio shows a year, including on NPR and top-rated major market shows in cities including Boston, Philadelphia, and Sacramento, plus syndicated regional broadcasts. Jeff’s op-eds have been published in top outlets including The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Post, Forbes, The Washington Examiner, and National Review Online.

Minnesota anti-smoking advocates applaud FDA pledge to crack down on flavored tobacco products

STAR TRIBUNE: Gottlieb, in pursuing his tobacco strategy, is taking some flak from fellow conservatives. “The administration promised less regulation — without sacrificing protections,” said Jeff Stier, a senior fellow at the Consumer Choice Center.

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About Jeff Stier

Jeff Stier is a Senior Fellow at the Consumer Choice Center. Mr. Stier has been a frequent guest on CNBC, and has addressed health policy on CNN, Fox News Channel, MSNBC, as well as network newscasts. He is a guest on over 100 radio shows a year, including on NPR and top-rated major market shows in cities including Boston, Philadelphia, and Sacramento, plus syndicated regional broadcasts. Jeff’s op-eds have been published in top outlets including The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Post, Forbes, The Washington Examiner, and National Review Online.

Opinion: What is Scott Gottlieb Smoking?

The FDA’s just-unveiled Draconian restrictions on vaping products are an example of good PR but bad public-health policy. And regulators know better.

When he headed the FDA, Dr. Frank Young used to admonish his minions that there were times when common sense should modulate established policies and rules. That can be done in federal agencies via “enforcement discretion,” a tool that regulators use to carry out their mandate in light of sometimes ambiguous laws and regulations.

Other officials have not been so wise.

Take Young’s successor at the FDA, David Kessler, who chose a ludicrous case calculated to get him on the evening news in a virile demonstration that he was tough at enforcing the law.

Was the issue defective heart valves, a contaminated vaccine or perhaps pathogenic bacteria in lettuce? No — Kessler directed armed federal marshals to confiscate and dump 15,000 gallons of Citrus Hill orange juice — solely because it was labeled “fresh.” It was reconstituted from concentrated juice, you see, and the FDA asserted that it is inaccurate to call orange juice “fresh” when made from concentrate.

On CBS’ “60 Minutes,” Kessler expressed his indignation: “[The juice] was made from concentrate. My grandmother could have told you, I mean, it wasn’t fresh. It wasn’t very hard [to tell the difference].” Duh. If it was so obvious, why not simply let consumers decide whether they like the product enough to buy it again?

The FDA’s failure of common sense is evident again in newly announced sweeping restrictions on e-cigarettes, popular not only among teenagers but adult smokers who use them as an invaluable tool for quitting tobacco-containing cigarettes.

The crackdown, which FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb says is intended to prevent a new generation of nicotine addicts, means that only tobacco, mint and menthol e-cigarette flavors can be sold at most traditional retail outlets, such as convenience stores and gas stations. Other sweet- or fruit-flavored varieties — all favorites of former adult smokers — can now only be sold at age-restricted stores or through online merchants that use age-verification checks.

Like the dumping of perfectly good, wholesome orange juice, the Gottlieb Plan doesn’t make much sense.

First, let’s stipulate that e-cigarettes are not entirely safe and that in a perfect world, they would not be used by kids. At the same time, as Commissioner Gottlieb himself has conceded, conventional cigarettes that expose mucous membranes and the lungs to combustion products are vastly more dangerous than e-cigarettes.

Many adults who have not been able to quit smoking using methods such as nicotine-containing gum or patches have been able to stop, with the help of a wide variety of these far less harmful, non-combustible vaping alternatives.

The FDA should concentrate on two primary goals: Enforce already-existing rules that ban the sale of e-cigarettes to minors, and, as recommended by the American Cancer Society, support adult smokers who attempt to quit with e-cigarettes.

Unfortunately, the new restrictions represent a dramatic and surprising reversal from July 2017, when the FDA announced a new “comprehensive regulatory plan” for “tobacco products,” including e-cigarettes, which embraced the idea of tobacco harm-reduction.

Commissioner Gottlieb said at the time that the plan demonstrated “a greater awareness that nicotine — while highly addictive — is delivered through products that represent a continuum of risk and is most harmful when delivered through smoke particles in combustible cigarettes.”

In other words, we should be more concerned about the smoke delivery system than we are about nicotine itself, even though, ideally, kids should never use nicotine of any kind.

Gottlieb continued, “Envisioning a world where cigarettes would no longer create or sustain addiction, and where adults who still need or want nicotine could get it from alternative and less harmful sources, needs to be the cornerstone of our efforts — and we believe it’s vital that we pursue this common ground.”

But capitulating to intense pressure from activists who seek nothing other than complete nicotine abstinence from adults, that cornerstone has crumbled. Instead, Gottlieb is now pitting the proper goal of preventing youth use against the other proper goal of helping adult smokers quit. But these objectives are not and should not be seen as mutually exclusive.

The news reports and the public opinion the FDA is largely relying upon to justify this about-face have been generated by puritanical pressure groups who want non-medicinal nicotine products off the market entirely.

Neither evidence nor common sense seems to influence those groups that are hell-bent on removing e-cigarettes from the market. Consider, for example, the latest creepy video from a mysterious group that calls itself “The Truth,” which features puppets, and which seems targeted at kids, journalists, and politicians

The text under the video states that vaping “makes you 4x more likely to start smoking cigarettes.” But the latest study, conducted by Rand, concludes otherwise: “EC use among youth is prospectively associated with progression toward greater cigarette use.”

There’s less to that statement than meets the eye. Are kids who engage in risky behaviors such as vaping also more likely to start smoking? Absolutely. Does vaping “make,” or cause, young people to start smoking? That’s not what the evidence says, but The Truth presents it that way.

It turns out that reporters were the real puppets, uncritically responding to and repeating activists’ unsupported assertions. This, in turn, has led to distorted public opinion which, the FDA now concedes, contributed to the just-announced Gottlieb Plan.

The FDA often touts itself as a science-based agency, immune to pressure from the public, politicians, and special interests.  Maybe this is the Gottlieb Exception.

When Congress gave the FDA authority to regulate recreational lower-risk nicotine products, it was with the expectation that the FDA would be able to both discourage youth use and help adults quit smoking. Sadly, to date, the FDA has accomplished little on either front.

These failures don’t justify a misplaced “crackdown” on e-cigarettes and responsible sellers. They require an aggressive effort to stop the bad actors. Accomplishing that now will require a new FDA policy. And clearly, a new commissioner.

Jeff Stier (@JeffaStier) is a policy adviser to the Heartland Institute and a senior fellow at the Consumer Choice Center. Henry I. Miller, a physician and molecular biologist, is a senior fellow at the Pacific Research Institute. He was the founding director of the Office of Biotechnology at the FDA.


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About Jeff Stier

Jeff Stier is a Senior Fellow at the Consumer Choice Center. Mr. Stier has been a frequent guest on CNBC, and has addressed health policy on CNN, Fox News Channel, MSNBC, as well as network newscasts. He is a guest on over 100 radio shows a year, including on NPR and top-rated major market shows in cities including Boston, Philadelphia, and Sacramento, plus syndicated regional broadcasts. Jeff’s op-eds have been published in top outlets including The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Post, Forbes, The Washington Examiner, and National Review Online.

Menthol ban a bad idea

NEWS NOW: Whatever the case may be, Jeff Stier, senior fellow at the Consumer Choice Center, says this is something that even the Obama FDA refused to do.

“The Obama administration saw that people like Al Sharpton and a former CEO of the NAACP opposed banning menthol, because menthol cigarettes are the flavor of choice for African-American smokers, and thought it would be bad in this environment to have more negative interactions between African-Americans in the community,” Stier explains. “The police and leadership in the black community have been opposed to this.”

Stier adds that black smokers will not just simply give up the habit.

“One black smoker told The Wall Street Journal that if they take away his menthol cigarettes, he’ll just switch to Marlboro,” Stier continues. “The FDA should be advising people that it is the right thing to do to quit smoking, but we’re not going to achieve smoking cessation through product bans. Instead, we can achieve them through education and harm reduction, that is switch to much lower risk e-cigarettes, which can help you quit smoking and, according to Public Health England, are 95 percent less harmful than cigarette smoking.”

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About Jeff Stier

Jeff Stier is a Senior Fellow at the Consumer Choice Center. Mr. Stier has been a frequent guest on CNBC, and has addressed health policy on CNN, Fox News Channel, MSNBC, as well as network newscasts. He is a guest on over 100 radio shows a year, including on NPR and top-rated major market shows in cities including Boston, Philadelphia, and Sacramento, plus syndicated regional broadcasts. Jeff’s op-eds have been published in top outlets including The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Post, Forbes, The Washington Examiner, and National Review Online.

An overload of warning labels desensitises the public

Does slapping a warning label on every single item we buy in the shops really make us more aware of potential risks, or are we running into an overprotection of the individual?

In an effort to protect public health, the World Health Organization (WHO) is calling for more comprehensive warning labels on things like alcohol. Numerous working documents praise the usefulness of warning labels in a society in which the risks of alcohol aren’t understood by everyone. Needless to say that EU member states are already going at it when it comes to accessibility : alcohol is hit with excise taxes, special alcohol taxes, VAT, minimum alcohol pricing, sales restrictions limited in time and place, bans on consumption in public places. In Nordic countries, the sale of alcohol is completely in government hands, and expensive to a degree that it impacts tourism.

Alcohol isn’t the only product targeted by public health activists : food products containing sugar and fat should also be hit by marketing restrictions and with health labelling, if all was going according to regulators and those pretending to know better. In France, you cannot even run an ad for crisps without the obligation to point out that salty food can be bad for you, read in the same voice and speed of a pharma-ad disclaimer. « Mind the gap », « smoking kills », « avoid sugary food and exercise » : you can’t help but wonder at what point we’ll become desensitised towards health warnings.

When it comes to labelling, public health advocates are quick to point to a number of studies proving the effectiveness of a particular health warning, be that text of picture. However, this assumes that the warning is already being looked at, which is not self-evident. Just like in the case of medicine : for a drug to be effective, it seems obvious that the patient will have to take it in the first place. Take the example of this 2018 study, which sets the amount of respondents which were actually aware of the warning labels for alcohol.

“Eye-tracking identified that 60% of participants looked at the current in market alcohol warning label […]. The current study casts doubt on dominant practices (largely self-report), which have been used to evaluate alcohol warning labels. Awareness cannot be used to assess warning label effectiveness in isolation in cases where attention does not occur 100% of the time.”

These are people who purchased the product and were actually not aware of what the warning label said. The question is of course : how can that be ? How is it possible that people ignore the warning label ?

The WHO working document “Alcohol labelling A discussion document on policy options” points towards the necessity of good design when it comes to warning labels. It says :

“There are four message components that may be considered when developing an effective health label, each serving a different purpose: (i) signal word to attract attention; (ii) identification of the problem; (iii) explanation of the consequences if exposed to the problem; and (iv) instructions for avoiding the problem. The visual impact of the label can be enhanced by using large, bold print; high contrast; colour; borders; and pictorial symbols.”

But bad design cannot be the only explanation for decreased awareness. Take the example of safety instructions on aeroplanes. Frequent flyers will know : after up to 2 flights a week, they become completely unnoticeable. An inflation of warning labels can desensitise those supposed to be aware of them, because of a lack of nuance. The messages « coffee can be bad for your health » and « smoking cigarettes can be bad for your health » don’t set a hierarchy of health hazards. In fact, sat next to each other both messages could imply that both are equally damaging. We should try not to make health warnings trivial : if they become less meaningful to consumers, we run the risk that important health warnings are actually ignored.

Originally published at https://www.europeanscientist.com/en/features/an-overload-of-warning-labels-desensitises-the-public/

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About Bill Wirtz

Bill Wirtz is policy analyst for the Consumer Choice Center, based in Brussels, Belgium. Originally from Luxembourg, his articles have appeared across the world in English, French, German, and Luxembourgish. He is Editor-in-Chief of Speak Freely, the blog of European Students for Liberty, a contributing editor for the Freedom Today Network and a regular contributor for the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE). He blogs regularly on his website in four languages.