Luksemburg pierwszym krajem UE, który zalegalizuje marihuanę do celów rekreacyjnych

FAKTY.KONOPNE: Legalizacja marihuany w Luksemburu to świetna wiadomość

Bill Wirtz, analityk polityczny w Consumer Choice Center (CCC) twierdzi, że chociaż legalizacja marihuany powinna nastąpić już wcześniej, to jest to znakomita wiadomość dla konsumentów.

“Jeśli reforma pozwoli na sprzedaż obcokrajowcom, to wpływ będzie ogromny”, powiedział analityk polityczny z Consumer Choice Center.

“Byłaby to wspaniała wiadomość dla konsumentów i początek nowej ery polityki antynarkotykowej w UE”.

“Luksemburg stanie się pierwszym krajem w UE, który faktycznie zalegalizuje konopie indyjskie, ponieważ Czechy, Portugalia lub Holandia albo je tolerują, albo dekryminalizują. Ta wiadomość to silny sygnał do innych krajów w UE. Pierwsze lody przełamane. “, powiedział Wirtz.

Wcześniejsze oświadczenia prasowe partnerów koalicyjnych wskazują, że marihuana byłaby legalna tylko dla mieszkańców. Jest to jednak niewłaściwa droga, ponieważ nie tylko dyskryminuje obcokrajowców, ale może również doprowadzić do zwiększenia czarnego rynku w tym regionie.

“Uważamy, że konopie indyjskie powinny być legalne dla wszystkich osób dorosłych, bez względu na narodowość. Może to pomóc w stworzeniu nowej branży turystycznej w kraju. Nie ma powodu, aby traktować legalne konopie indyjskie w sposób bardziej rygorystyczny niż legalny alkohol. Jeśli obcokrajowcy, którzy są pełnoletni, mogą kupić legalny alkohol w kraju, powinni również być w stanie kupić konopie indyjskie.”

“Rząd powinien rozpocząć szeroki proces konsultacji w sprawie procedury legalizacji. Chcemy inteligentnej legalizacji, która przyniesie korzyści odpowiedzialnym konsumentom, pomoże zapewnić regulacje przyjazne rynkowi i pomoże chronić obywateli Luksemburga “- powiedział Wirtz.

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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.

#Snus – #ECJ, politically charged, opposes harm-reduction

The European Court of Justice decided against overturning the EU-wide ban on the smokeless tobacco snus. The ruling displays a political public health motivation, writes Bill Wirtz.

In January last year, the New Nicotine Alliance (NNA) appealed against the 1992 EU-ban on the smokeless tobacco snus. Snus is powdered tobacco, often sold in pre-packed bags of the size of an index finger, which the users place on the upper lip. It is sometimes confused with snuffed tobacco, which is legal. Snus does have associated health risks, and can also lead to nicotine addiction, yet it reduces the risk of pulmonary diseases. The product is particularly popular in Scandinavian countries.

According to Eurostat figures, smoking rates in Sweden – which negotiated an opt-out of the snus ban when it joined the EU in 1995 – are the lowest in the whole of Europe. In fact, they are half those of most European countries, and are three times lower than in Bulgaria, Greece, Hungary or Turkey. It’s hard to imagine that snus doesn’t play a role in this – because it doesn’t qualify as smoking. Similarly, statistics in Norway reveal that 2017 marked the first year in which 16- to 74-year-olds consumed more snus than cigarettes.

The ban was defended by counsels for the European Commission, the European Council, the European Parliament, Norway and the UK. Among the arguments presented were that tobacco consumption of all kinds needs to be reduced, and that snus could be regarded as a gateway to conventional cigarettes. Not only is there no scientific evidence for the ‘gateway drug’ claim — it is also bizarre that EU outlaws the gateway, while allowing the sale of cigarettes, a drug it considers more dangerous. Snus advocates suffered a major blow when Danish Advocate-General Henrik Saugmandsgaard Øe concluded that snus remains a health hazard, which legitimizes the ban.

In a ruling published on 22 November, the ECJ ruled against the re-authorization of snus in the European Union.

Pro-snus advocates have two reasons to argue for a lifting of the ban: on one hand there’s the economic incentive of the company’s that make snus, which would not be denied by the companies. After all, producing companies have an obvious business incentive. But more importantly, there’s an aspect of harm-reduction that is important: cigarette smokers can quit smoking through snus. Yes, snus is not a harmless product in itself, but it is a better alternative than cigarettes. Shouldn’t the goal of public health be to encourage this process of reducing risks?

The ruling of the European Court of Justice displays a deep bias against the principle of harm-reduction. The court casts out the experience of Norway and Sweden, and says that that snus as a tobacco cessation method is “uncertain”. It also cleverly manages to avoid asserting that there is a gateway effect, by stating that there is a “risk of a gateway effect”. Calling it a mere gateway risk exempts the judges from proving the gateway relationship, which is not proven.

However, two paragraphs in the ruling stand out:

“Tobacco products for oral use remain harmful to health, are addictive and are attractive to young people. Further, as stated in paragraph 26 of the present judgment, such products would, if placed on the market, represent novel products for consumers. In that context, it remains likely that member states may be led to adopt various laws, regulations and administrative provisions designed to bring to an end the expansion in the consumption of tobacco products for oral use.”

Most interestingly, nothing in this paragraph (58) is untrue. Snus is harmful to health, it can be addictive and it is attractive to young people (as observed in Scandinavian countries). It is also correct that the product would be novel, and that certain member states would feel inclined to regulate on the national level. However, nothing therefore contradicts the claims of harm-reduction.

“Moreover, as regards more particularly the claim by Swedish Match [Swedish company that produces snus] that the permission given to the marketing of other tobacco and related products demonstrates that the prohibition on the placing on the market of tobacco products for oral use is disproportionate, it must be recalled that an EU measure is appropriate for ensuring attainment of the objective pursued only if it genuinely reflects a concern to attain it in a consistent and systematic manner […].”

This paragraph 59 of the ruling is the most telling about the political motivations of the court. Swedish Match made an argument over the proportionality of the ban vis-à-vis other legal products. In essence: why is snus illegal, while other products which are more harmful, such as cigarettes, are legal?

The paragraph contains a lot of legalese, but it refers in its arguments to a ruling of July last year, in which it stated that it considers the overall objective of a law in its judgement regard proportionality. In essence, the ECJ says that EU rules against tobacco are made in an effort to protect public health, which means that any change on the market that could, in any way possible, make a product more interesting to consumers, contradicts the objective of the law. In fact, the court doesn’t deny that a ban on snus is disproportional in itself, but that given the context of the objectives of public health policy, a ban is proportionate. Nothing could indicate more clearly that the court only confirms the policies of the European Union.

Snus is one of the viable harm-reducing products, which can actually give tobacco users a viable alternative for smoking cigarettes. Yes, consumers do not always choose the healthiest option for themselves, but if presented with choices offered on the market, they might actually reduce the health hazards posed to their bodies.

Originally published at https://www.eureporter.co/health/2018/12/03/snus-ecj-politically-charged-opposes-harm-reduction/

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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.

Luxembourg next to legalise recreational cannabis use

JUST-DRINKS: The incoming Coalition Government in Luxembourg has confirmed its intention to legalise the recreational use of cannabis in the country.

Consumer group Consumer Choice Center (CCC) said today that the measure forms part of the coalition manifesto for the next five years. The group suggested the move would prompt other European countries to follow.

“Luxembourg will become the first country in the EU to actually legalise cannabis, as the Czech Republic, Portugal, or the Netherlands either tolerate or decriminalise it,” said Bill Wirtz, policy analyst at the CCC. “This sends a strong message to other countries in the EU. The ice is broken.”

The organisation said early press statements by the coalition partners indicate that marijuana use would only be legal for Luxembourg residents.

“That would be the wrong way to go, since it is not only discriminatory but could also increase black market presence in the area,” said Wirtz. “We feel that cannabis should be legal for purchase to all adults, regardless of nationality. Doing so could help create a new tourism industry in the country.

“At the end of the day, there is no reason to treat legal cannabis more strictly than legal alcohol. If foreigners, of age, can buy legal alcohol in the country, they should also be able to buy cannabis.”

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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.

Luxembourg set to legalize recreational cannabis

HORTI DAILY: ‘The ice is broken’

Bill Wirtz, Policy Analyst at the Consumer Choice Center (CCC), from Luxembourg himself, says legalisation was overdue, but a great sign for consumer choice at this stage:

“Luxembourg will become the first country in the EU to actually legalise cannabis, as the Czech Republic, Portugal, or the Netherlands either tolerate or decriminalise it. This sends a strong message to other countries in the EU. The ice is broken,“ said Wirtz.

“Early press statements by the coalition partners indicate that it would only be legal for residents. That would be the wrong way to go, since it is not only discriminatory but could also increase black market presence in the area.

“We feel that cannabis should be legal for purchase to all adults, regardless of nationality. Doing so could help create a new tourism industry in the country. At the end of the day, there is no reason to treat legal cannabis more strictly than legal alcohol. If foreigners, of age, can buy legal alcohol in the country, they should also be able to buy cannabis.

“The government should open a broad consultation process on the legalisation procedure. We want smart legalisation that benefits responsible consumers, helps ensure market-friendly regulations, and will help protect the citizens of Luxembourg,” said Wirtz.

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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.

Luxembourg next to legalise recreational cannabis use

JUST FOOD: Consumer group Consumer Choice Center (CCC) said today that the measure is part of the coalition manifesto for the next five years. The group said the move is “overdue”.

“Luxembourg will become the first country in the EU to actually legalise cannabis, as the Czech Republic, Portugal, or the Netherlands either tolerate or decriminalise it,” said Bill Wirtz, policy analyst at the CCC. “This sends a strong message to other countries in the EU. The ice is broken.”

The group said early press statements by the coalition partners indicate that marijuana use would only be legal for residents.

“That would be the wrong way to go, since it is not only discriminatory but could also increase black market presence in the area,” said Wirtz. “We feel that cannabis should be legal for purchase to all adults, regardless of nationality. Doing so could help create a new tourism industry in the country. At the end of the day, there is no reason to treat legal cannabis more strictly than legal alcohol. If foreigners, of age, can buy legal alcohol in the country, they should also be able to buy cannabis.”

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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.

Incoming Luxembourg government plans to legalize recreational marijuana

MARIJUANA BUSINESS DAILY: “If the reform allows for sales to nonresidents, the impact would be massive,” Bill Wirtz, a Luxembourgian and policy analyst for the Consumer Choice Center, told Marijuana Business Daily.

“It would be great news for consumers and the beginning of a new era of drug policy in the EU.”

He noted that the country has a relatively small local consumer market, but the Greater Region of Luxembourg includes two German federal states, the French region of Alsace and Lorraine, and the Belgian province of Wallonia.

“If the reform ends up keeping nonresidents off the market, the government might even face antidiscriminatory lawsuits,” Wirtz added.

“Moreover, if you really want to solve the black-market issue, you need to open sales to anyone.”

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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.

Banning junk food ads to combat childhood obesity

MEDICINE NEWS LINE: On the November 23rd, London Mayor Sadiq Khan announced that as of February, all advertisements for food high in fat, sugar and salt will be banned from the London’s tube and bus network. The measure is part of the mayor’s plan to decrease child obesity rates.

The Consumer Choice Center’s London-based Managing Director Fred Roeder said that combating childhood obesity is a noble goal, but trampling on consumer choice and the rights of adult consumers isn’t an appropriate solution.

Even though we all agree that obesity is an important issue, marketing restrictions haven’t proved to be effective in stemming it. In 1980, junk food advertising was outlawed in Quebec and contrary to the expected outcomes, childhood obesity rates went up by 140% in the 15 years following the introduction of the ban.

In October, Public Health England indicated that more than 37 percent of 10 and 11 year-olds in London are overweight or obese. It is often mistakenly argued that this is caused by high energy intake, but the obesity rates are dependent on the physical activity, which according to the Public Health England has decreased by 24 per cent since the 1960s. Daily calorie intake in the UK is also decreasing each decade. We don’t have a junk food problem, but a calorie burning problem. Rather than impose the junk food ban, the mayor should advocate promoting healthy lifestyles that include physical exercise.

To back up the plan, the mayor explained that ‘advertising plays a huge part in the choices we make.’ While it is true that advertisements help distinguish products on the market, governments should preserve consumers’ rights to decide for themselves and avoid legislation that seeks to ban brands. Ultimately, we as a society need to focus on educating and empowering parents to ensure their children make healthy choices.”

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About Fred Roeder

Fred Roder has been working in the field of grassroots activism for over eight years. He is a Health Economist from Germany and has worked in healthcare reform and market access in North America, Europe, and several former Soviet Republics. One of his passions is to analyze how disruptive industries and technologies allow consumers more choice at a lower cost. Fred is very interested in consumer choice and regulatory trends in the following industries: FMCG, Sharing Economy, Airlines. In 2014 he organized a protest in Berlin advocating for competition in the Taxi market. Fred has traveled to 100 countries and is looking forward to visiting the other half of the world’s countries. Among many op-eds and media appearances, he has been published in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Wirtschaftswoche, Die Welt, the BBC, SunTV, ABC Portland News, Montreal Gazette, Handelsblatt, Huffington Post Germany, CityAM. L’Agefi, and The Guardian. Since 2012 he serves as an Associated Researcher at the Montreal Economic Institute.

The Consumer Choice Center: A Lobby for consumers

A Freedom Today conversation with Fred Roeder of the CCC

Why did you decide to launch the Consumer Choice Center?

Back in 2014 i lived in Berlin and started loving the recently started services by the ride sharing company Uber. But just after a few months of service taxi drivers across Europe decided to go on a massive strike to protest the new competition. Part of this strike was a large manifestation in front of the Olympic Stadium In Berlin. A motorcade of 1,000 taxis drove towards the stadium. That morning me and two friends decided to go to that manifestation in order to show flag for our right as consumers to pick the ride of our choice. We went to a copy shop and printed some A3-sized signs saying “Taxi monopoly is so yesterday” and “Uber on!”  Our little stunt got wide media attention and the taxi drivers went so crazy that Police had to escort us away from the angry taxi drivers. That day I realized that there’s no organized lobby for consumers that love choice. At the same time companies weren’t used to support consumers to drive policies that would benefits both: consumers and innovators.

After two years of running some campaigns for choice and against the Nanny State within Students For Liberty we decided to take this consumers advocacy to the next level and founded the Consumer Choice Center.

With Yael Ossowski and David Clement in North America and Luca Bertoletti and me in Europe we aimed to create a consumer group that actually cares about our desire to freely choose.

Students For Liberty was tremendously important to get this launched. Their support and trust helped us to focus on this new project.

So whom does the Consumer Choice Center represent?

Broadly we represent the silent majority of consumers that feel confident making their own choices. Those who are fed up with regulatory overreach. Consumers who would benefit from innovation such as home sharing or harm reducing technologies if they wouldn’t be banned by paternalistic policies.

Over the past two years we got support from millions of social media users who watch, like, and share our work in the web. We also got endorsed by policy makers from Europe, North- and South America and more and more regulators including the European Commission are curious about our work and invite us to help shaping consumer friendly policies.

According to representative polls we have conducted in several countries the vast majority of consumers prefer choice. And this is was the Consumer Choice Center stands for.

We also just launched a new program that allows consumers to support the CCC through annual membership fees and become card-carrying Consumer Choice Center supporters.

Who funds the Consumer Choice Center?

That is an important and frequently asked question. We are very transparent about our funding: Most of our funding comes from private businesses, family foundations also fund our work, and more and more consumers start supporting us with small but important donations.

Don’t you see a conflict of interest being co-funded by companies?

We do have a code of ethics that strictly separates our fundraising efforts and editorial decisions. A Chinese Wall between donors and editorial decisions allows us to remain fully independent from corporate interests. For the sake of transparency we publish all industries that support us in our website.

Have you ever said “No” to a potential donor?

Yes, we have to do that very regularly as often the expectation of donors is that they can just pay us for spreading their issues but this is not how we work. We only promote issues that enable and increase consumer choice. We aren’t interested in picking winners. This is something consumers have to do on the marketplace and not lobbyists or politicians. We turn down nearly half of funding proposals we receive. Everything else would cause mission creep and would destroy what we have built up with the Consumer Choice Center in the past.

What has the Consumer Choice Center achieved so far?

We have several campaigns I am particularly proud of. In Ontario, Canada we helped to allow private retail of recreational Cannabis and thus give the black market a much harder time come April 2019. We helped to prevent a piece of regulation that would have massively increased airline ticket prices in the United States. In 2017 we helped to delay a sneaking branding ban in the Republic of Georgia by five years. That same year we successfully campaigned against a soft drink tax in the city of Montreal. Right now we are working on creating a true single market for digital services and infrastructure in Europe. Consumers traveling between countries would benefit a lot from this: Just think that every European country has a different fee system for digital rights which makes it so hard to stream abroad. My colleague Bill Wirtz does currently also great work on liberalizing the European bus market.

What currently excites you the most in your work with the Consumer Choice Center?

Two issues I am very passionate about right now are self driving cars and littering laws. We could safe thousands of lives in Europe if we would pass legislation that allows self driving cars given that most deadly accidents are caused by human error. The entire world currently debates bans on single use plastics in order to clean up the oceans. What is not much mentioned in that debate is that Europe and the US combined cause merely 2% of marine pollution and most of it is caused by a few emerging markets such as China and India. Enforcing property rights in these countries would have an actual impact on marine pollution whereas symbolic bans in Europe and the US will merely cause unintended consequences but not clean up the oceans. I live in the UK which has a very progressive approach towards tobacco harm reduction which allows millions of nicotine consumers to switch to safer alternatives such as electronic cigarettes or heat not burn products. I recently traveled to Brazil to meet up with our new staffer Andre Freo and had to learn that these products are banned in Brazil since 2009. By legalizing novel nicotine products tens of millions of Brazilian smokers would have less harmful alternatives. It is insane that governments prevent people from accessing safer products. This is something that gets me out of bed every morning. If we don’t fight for our right to choose we have no right to complain about paternalism. Our Senior Fellow Jeff Stier has done great work on this in the United States and Israel.

Where else do you see consumer choice being attacked?

A simple but frightening example in many liberal democracies is the power of the public health lobby. Freedom of speech and brands are being limited with the argument that this is good for public health. We got so far a wide coalition of European policy makers in the BrandsMatter Group that pledged to defend consumers’ rights to enjoy brands.

The recent discussion on taxing red meat and banning milkshakes in the UK are other examples of public health overreacting to studies on toxicity of total fine products and reports on obesity levels. If you look at government data you will actually see that calorie intake has constantly declined in the past 5 decades in Western countries. The problem is that people don’t exercise enough. Maria Chaplia and our fellow Richard Mason have done some great work on these issues. I am really happy that we have more and more smart consumer advocates joining us and raising the voice and profile of the Consumer Choice Center.

In the past twelve months we have been quoted and published in outlets such as The Telegraph, Die Welt, Le Monde, Politico, USA Today, The Washington Post, Toronto Star, the Express, The Guardian, FoxNews, And The New York Times. Consumers have finally a voice and we are keen to take this to the next level.

Thank you for the Interview Fred Roeder, Managing Director of the Consumer Choice Center

Originally published at https://ftn.media/consumer-choice-center-lobby-consumers

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About Fred Roeder

Fred Roder has been working in the field of grassroots activism for over eight years. He is a Health Economist from Germany and has worked in healthcare reform and market access in North America, Europe, and several former Soviet Republics. One of his passions is to analyze how disruptive industries and technologies allow consumers more choice at a lower cost. Fred is very interested in consumer choice and regulatory trends in the following industries: FMCG, Sharing Economy, Airlines. In 2014 he organized a protest in Berlin advocating for competition in the Taxi market. Fred has traveled to 100 countries and is looking forward to visiting the other half of the world’s countries. Among many op-eds and media appearances, he has been published in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Wirtschaftswoche, Die Welt, the BBC, SunTV, ABC Portland News, Montreal Gazette, Handelsblatt, Huffington Post Germany, CityAM. L’Agefi, and The Guardian. Since 2012 he serves as an Associated Researcher at the Montreal Economic Institute.

Manitoba’s social responsibility fee could send pot customers to black market: consumer watchdog

VANCOUVER SUN: A consumer watchdog says the province’s incoming social responsibility fee will only place a burden on the legal cannabis industry and will counterproductive in quelling the black market.

David Clement, North American Affairs Manager for the Consumer Choice Center, says overtaxing cannabis in the province flies in the face of what the revenue from the promised 6% tax is supposed to do.

The Pallister government introduced legislation on Thursday to create the fee, with the money raised from the tax going to cover public education, safety, health and addictions programming.

Clement says it does the exact opposite.

“It appears both the federal government and various provincial governments, in this case, the Manitoba government, hasn’t realized the role that price plays from diverting people from the black market,” Clement said. “In terms of prices, we have to have a pricing system that competes with the black market. When you add a 6% social responsibility fee on top of the 10% excise tax… the 5% GST, on top of a half-billion dollars applied at different levels in production, it creates a situation that we might be passing policies that are counterproductive to the goal of taking consumers away from the black market.”

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About David Clement

David Clement is the North American Affairs Manager for the Consumer Choice Center and is based out of Oakville, Ontario. David holds a BA in Political Science and a MA in International Relations from Wilfrid Laurier University. Previously, David was the Research Assistant to the Canada Research Chair in International Human Rights. David has been regularly featured on the CBC, Global News, The Toronto Star and various other major Canadian news outlets.

Don’t let cities ruin the scooter revolution

In major urban centers across the globe, a handful of companies have deployed technology due to be one of the most innovative solutions to the mountains of traffic and mobility issues that plague our cities.

Electric scooters are smart mobility vehicles that offer a revolution in dealing with problems of traffic congestion and the “ last mile” problem.

As noted by innovation consultant Jeffrey Philips, electric scooters have proven to be successful where Segway, the two-wheeled self-balancing transporter first developed in 2001, failed.

They are cheap, small, emission-free, easy to use, and ubiquitous. The previous generation of Segways was a favorite tool of the 1 percent, priced high enough to lock out the average consumer, and too big to be left on busy corners.

Less than one year ago, however, that changed, as Silicon Valley entrepreneurs unveiled rentable electric scooters to disrupt the gridlock and fumes of car-congested streets.

The major players thus far are Bird, LimeBike, and Spin. The latter was purchased by Ford Motor Company earlier this month for close to $100 million.

But as with any innovation in transportation, the calls for regulation or outright bans have dampened the bright prospects scooters bring. And it’s not just the ire of Luddites.

San Francisco, where practically all electric scooter companies are based, banned all scooters from the streets in June. Only two major companies were given permits to operate again in late August. Seattle, one of the worst cities for traffic congestion, promptly banned them earlier this year, despite embracing dockless bicycles that use practically the same technology.

Similar to Uber and Lyft’s quick deployments in 2011-2012, the quick and stealthy unloading of hundreds of scooters overnight kept many cities scrambling to regulate. Cease and desist orders followed by the dozens.

Public safety, order, and taxation (not necessarily in that order) have been the key motivators for regulators. More often than not, cities claimed they weren’t asked permission.

Beverly Hills justified its swift ban due to a “concern for public safety and a lack of any advance planning and outreach by the motorized scooter companies.”

The “regulate first, innovate later” mentality will no doubt be an impediment to solving the issues that cities face across the country.

That said, problems exist. Riding at high speeds near cars and pedestrians without protection makes users susceptible to crashes and injuries. The class-action lawsuit filed in California by injured riders speaks to this. But if cities are able to accommodate bicycles, why wouldn’t they be able to do the same for electric scooters?

An oft-heard complaint is that scooter users ride on the sidewalk, ignore traffic signals, and abandon them in high-trafficked areas.

But that can be solved with smart regulation: Allow scooters to use bike lanes and park in bike areas. Provide clear guidance for riders and companies.

Bird and LimeBike require users to snap a picture when they park their scooter, ensuring it’s in a safe and legal area. Violators can be barred from the platform. That’s technology providing compliance rather than a bureaucratic rule.

When ridesharing apps such as Uber, Lyft, DriveNow, and Car2go hit the streets, detractors used similar arguments. Cities that embraced the technology, though, succeeded in removing cars off the street, reducing pollution, and offering new economic opportunities. Low-income communities saw a huge benefit.

Too often, studies on the effects of ridesharing examine what they aim to disrupt: single-car commuters, public transportation, and taxis. Rather than asking whether they affect specific industries, we should ask whether they are helping society at large. And by any objective measure, they are.

Most importantly, the new innovations on our streets are solving what civil and urban planners call the “ last mile” problem, the gap between where one mode of transportation leaves us and our final destination.

More often than not, the innovations that will solve problems in various strata of society will be the initiatives of private entrepreneurs and inventors. If cities want to embrace that positive change, they should pass reasonable and smart regulation on electric scooters.

Yaël Ossowski is a writer, consumer advocate, and deputy director at the Consumer Choice Center.

Originally published at https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/dont-let-cities-ruin-the-scooter-revolution

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About Yaël Ossowski

Yaël Ossowski is a journalist, activist, and writer. He's currently deputy director at the Consumer Choice Center, and senior development officer for Students For Liberty. He was previously a national investigative reporter and chief Spanish translator at Watchdog.org, and worked at newspapers and television stations across the country. He received a Master’s Degree in Philosophy, Politics, Economics (PPE) at the CEVRO Institute in Prague. Born in Québec and raised in the southern United States, he currently lives in Vienna, Austria.