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Elizabeth Warren Outraged by Social Media Bans She Champions

In a tweet she published on Tuesday, Democratic Presidential Candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren blasted Twitter’s new ad policy that won’t approve any political advertising.

The problem with Sen. Warren’s outrage is that she herself is a champion of breaking up social media networks as an end goal, and restricting political advertising in the meantime.

Therefore, when such policies are then implemented by social networks as a way to placate political interests and ensure good relationships with lawmakers, shouldn’t that be celebrated?

It seems Warren is upset that the policy affects more people than those she intended.

Here is a good lesson in advocating public policies and regulations that affect real people: they actually affect, and sometimes harm, real people.

Because regulations are rules that impact everyone and considering that these regulations are promoted as part of a candidate’s platform, it doesn’t take much to understand that ordinary groups, charities, and organizations will actually end up getting penalized. Noble intentions are great, but the actual impact is what matters.

This is something we’ve discussed before, and we’d advocate against.

The Consumer Choice Center, the consumer organization I work for, now won’t be allowed to make ads because Twitter’s algorithms consider our content “political advertising,” even though we do not endorse candidates. We discuss ideas and advocate for ideas that promote consumer choice.

Bans on political advertising, as promoted by Warren, are effectively an attempt to regulate speech, albeit in the private sphere. And not just the speech of the fossil fuel companies or political candidates from parties she deplores.

It also affects environmental groups, pro-LGBT groups, political clubs, NGOs, and everyday civil society organizations like ours.

Let that be a warning to those who promote tech regulation that stifles speech. It won’t just be speech that you don’t like that will end up censored, but all political speech. That’s bad for ordinary social media users, and it’s bad for well-meaning organizations who are just trying to spread a message.

For more, check out this Consumer Choice Center poll that shows that 77% of Americans believe government should not interfere with newer tech-enabled businesses where possible to ensure consumers have the greatest possible choice of services.

The green rush is already here and we need smart cannabis policy to direct it

This week, 60 Minutes ran a report on the failure of cannabis policy in California, specifically the marijuana-rich region of the Emerald Triangle. Though California legalized cannabis beginning in 2017, the region has created a special conundrum for law enforcement and regulators.

The northwestern region of the state, with its ideal growing climate, grows an estimated 70% of the nation’s cannabis. A good chunk of that, as you can guess, is sold illicitly in states where cannabis is not yet legal, recreationally, medically, or otherwise. 

Much more, 78% of all cannabis sold in California is estimated to be grown illegally, beyond the reach of taxes and regulations. Police have seized more than $30 million worth of cannabis, and are spending more time policing cannabis now than when it was illegal. It’s a disaster.

On a recent trip to New York, I saw California brands and products for sale in an illegal dispensary just off Times Square. Supply is liquid and flexible, even if the regulations are not.

And herein lies the problem.

The impressive growth of the national black market of THC cannabis is enabled by its legality in states like California, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington, but cemented by burdensome regulation and taxes that discourage consumers from using the legal market.

That’s why we need to transition urgently to smart cannabis policy, one that encourages competition, entrepreneurship, avoids red tape, and eradicates the black market.

Consumers know why current policies have failed. States, counties, and municipalities view cannabis as a cash crop for public budgets rather than a new consumer product. High taxes at all levels of production and sale, as well as expensive fees, licenses, and local prohibitions on dispensaries make it a racket.

Comparing prices alone easily nudges consumers to buy the cheaper, illicit products. The same issues plague Canada, which legalized cannabis just one year ago, but where 42% of cannabis purchases are outside the legal system. That’s a problem no one in government is addressing, much less discussing.

The regulatory burden faced by growers and retailers alike erects immense barriers to entry, practically guaranteeing the emergence of a new generation of scofflaws not seen since the days of Prohibition. This enables low-quality and sometimes harmful products to reach consumers, without significant testing or verification for pesticides or other chemicals.

California’s problems will soon migrate to Massachusetts and Michigan, cobbling together their regulatory regimes to tackle the green rush but not adapting the lessons learned from the western experience.

The culprit isn’t regulation or taxation per se, but rather an unbalanced and uninformed cannabis policy that puts the state’s tax earnings ahead of the consumer experience.

The same issues are beginning to plague the CBD and hemp market, the non-intoxicating cannabis derivatives quietly legalized via the 2018 Farm Bill. 

With little to no clarity from the FDA, states such as North Carolina will ban different forms of CBD, much to the detriment of farmers converting millions of dollars’ worth of fields to hemp production, and to consumers relying on CBD to address anxiety, pain relief, and depression. This is a national problem, rather than limited to states with recreational cannabis markets.

This is compounded by the DEA’s Schedule 1 classification of cannabis, more severe than opioids or cocaine, making it illegal for legal cannabis firms to establish legitimate bank accounts, take out loans, and offer public shares of their businesses. Not to mention the myriad of issues that force dispensaries to deal in cash for transactions, tax payments, and equipment procurement.

Thankfully, both Republicans and Democrats in Congress are close to passing the SAFE Banking Act to alleviate these concerns. But bad cannabis policy at the state and local levels still exists. And that’s bad for consumers and entrepreneurs alike.

Nascent cannabis companies should be able to establish brands and consumer loyalty, comply with reasonable and smart regulation, and not face unreasonable tax burdens. That will make the experience much better for consumers, and it’s the only way to eradicate the black market and ensure smart cannabis policy.


By Yaël Ossowski

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

Democratic Presidential Debate: How did consumer choice fare?

With the 2020 presidential race running on full steam, 12 Democratic candidates for president participated in yet another televised debate last night in Ohio.

Considering consumers will be directly impacted by many of the policies mentioned, here’s a breakdown by categories mentioned by the candidates and our own spin on how it relates to consumer choice.

HEALTHCARE

Mayor Pete Buttigieg makes some good points on keeping competition for healthcare insurance, blasting Sen. Elizabeth Warren for not being straight on whether taxes will go up with her Medicare For All plan.

Buttigieg: “No plan has been laid to explain how a multi-trillion-dollar hole in this Medicare For All plan that Sen. Warren is putting forward is supposed to get filled in.”

He prefers “Medicare For All Who Want It,” continuing to allow private healthcare insurance and a public option for those who want it. As we’ve written before, more choice in healthcare is what should be championed.

And Buttigieg had another great line:

“I don’t think the American people are wrong when they say that what they want is a choice…I don’t understand why you believe the only way to deliver affordable coverage to everybody is to obliterate private plans, kicking 150 million Americans off their insurance in four short years.”

Warren, on the other hand, calls her plan the “gold standard,” again stating that while taxes on the wealthy will go up, costs for middle-class families will go down. Here, she’s taking an objective view of the total costs to families, mixing taxes and healthcare expenses. Of course, that’s very convoluted, and doesn’t leave much clarity to consumers.

Sen. Bernie Sanders is more honest: “I do think it’s appropriate to acknowledge that taxes will go up…but the tax increase they pay will be substantially less than what they were paying for premiums and out-of-pocket expenses.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar: “We owe it to the American people to tell them where we’re going to send the invoice…we need to have a public option.” She calls Medicare For All a “pipe dream,” calling for an expansion of Obamacare.

Former Vice President Joe Biden: “The [Medicare For All] plan is going cost at least $30 trillion over 10 years.” He similarly wants to just expand Obamacare.

Overall, it seems there is still a lot of support for competition in healthcare, and that is to be celebrated. Medicare For All, which would remove all aspects of competition and free choice, only got moderate support by all except Sanders and Warren.

CANNABIS LEGALIZATION

The idea of a smart cannabis policy was quite absent from the debate. That’s quite a mishap, considering the ongoing issue of federal cannabis prohibition while select states continue with their own version of legalization.

The only two mentions came in the context of the opioid crisis, by Sen. Cory Booker and Andrew Yang. They only mentioned that cannabis could be used as an alternative for those addicted to opioids.

What about the very real fight to have smart cannabis policy implemented at the federal level? We hope this is covered more in future debates.

AUTOMATION

The idea of a federal job guarantee was fresh on the lips of Bernie Sanders, but that was shot down by most people on the stage.

Entrepreneur Andrew Yang hit it out of the park with this one:

“Most Americans do not want to work for the federal government. And saying that is the vision of the economy of the 21st Century is, to me, is not a vision that most Americans would not embrace.”

He promotes his Freedom Dividend, offering $1,000 a month to every American as a replacement for welfare, as a way to boost consumer spending, and help workers who lose their jobs due to automation.

There is much that could be written about whether or not this universal basic income would be good for consumers, but it is at least a different policy debated by mainstream presidential candidates on a national state.

TECH REGULATION

There was much room for beating up tech companies that offer great services for ordinary consumers. That includes services like Facebook, Amazon, and Google. We’ve written about the trust-busters and their desire to usurp consumer choice before.

Warren led the salvo, using a quip about separating the umpire and the baseball team as some kind of strange metaphor about Amazon selling its own products on its website. Enter her zinger: “We need to enforce our anti-trust laws, break up these giant companies that are dominating big tech, big pharma, all of them.” Pretty clear there.

Yang: “Using a 20th-century anti-trust framework will not work. We need new solutions and a new toolkit…the best way to fight back against tech companies is to say that our data is our property. Our data is worth more than oil.” He made the case for his Value Added Tax on digital services as well, which we’ll examine below.

Sen. Kamala Harris pleaded her fellow candidates to support her call to get Twitter to ban President Donald Trump from Twitter but got no love.

The person who made the most consumer-friendly response about tech regulation was, surprisingly, former Rep. Beto O’Rourke.

“Treat them as the publishers as we are. But I don’t think it’s the role of the president to specify which companies will be broken. That’s something Donald Trump has done…we need tough rules of the road, protect your personal information, privacy, and data, and be fearless in the face of these tech giants.”

He was one of the only people in the debate to mention consumer privacy and pushed back against trust-busting, and should hence get a pat on the back.

TRADE

No Democrat mentioned the trade wars, the harmful impacts of tariffs, and the promise of free trade. Rather, trade got mostly slammed.

Elizabeth Warren: “The principal reason [for losing jobs] is trade. Giant multinational companies have been calling the shots on trade…they are loyal only to their bottom line. I have a plan to fix that: accountable capitalism.”

Warren’s version of accountable capitalism:

  • 40% of corporate boards should be elected by the employees
  • We should give unions more power when they negotiate

Again, no mention of the USMCA free trade agreement, no talk of free trade with the European Union or any other countries.

Sen. Cory Booker agrees that unions should be empowering to offer Americans a “living wage.”

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard says universal basic income is a “good idea to help provide that security so that people can have the freedom to make the kinds of choices that they want to see.” It’s not a total endorsement for freedom of choice for consumers, but at least invokes a good notion of free choice. Not sure her take on global free trade.

TAXES

Though the candidates mentioned many new taxes they’d endorse, the one that concerns consumers the most would be the idea of a VAT – Value Added Tax.

Andrew Yang mentioned that instead of Warren’s wealth tax, he’d pass a VAT of 10%, like in European countries to help fund his Freedom Dividend. That would be akin to a national sales tax, but allowing the opportunity for businesses to claim this amount back if it’s a legitimate business expense, and the same for tourists visiting on vacation.

On its face, an American VAT would raise costs for ordinary consumers and be regressive. As the Tax Policy Foundation notes, this tax would have a disproportionate impact on lower-income households, as they tend to spend more of their income on consumption. Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich made the same point while watching the debate:

Many states and municipalities have their own sales taxes or none at all, and that does impact consumers who spend more. But a move to a national VAT would mean higher prices for ordinary goods and services for all consumers.

PROTECTING CONSUMERS

Really the only direct mention came when Warren tooted her own horn on her consumer protection agency.

“Following the Financial Crash of 2008, I had an idea for a consumer agency (Consumer Financial Protection Bureau) that would keep giant banks from cheating people. And all of the Washington insiders and strategic geniuses said “don’t even try” because you won’t get it passed…it has now forced big banks to return more than $12 billion directly to the people they cheated.”

The Trump Administration has taken the CFPB to court over whether or not it is constitutional, and Republicans have consistently attacked the organization since its founding during the Obama Administration.

“Make no mistake, it does little to protect consumers and was created during the Obama administration to enforce burdensome regulations which have stunted economic growth and negatively impacted small businesses and consumers,” said Sen. Ted Cruz, who has introduced legislation to abolish the agency.

“America has three branches of government – not four,” said Senator Sasse, who has also co-sponsored the bill. “Protecting consumers is good, but consolidating power in the hands of Washington elites is harmful. This powerful and unaccountable bureau is an affront to the principle that the folks who write laws must be accountable to the people.”

CONCLUSION

There wasn’t much mention of the impact the debated policies would have on consumers, and unfortunately no mention of free trade and lifestyle freedom.

Regardless, on healthcare and tech regulation, there were good debates and some good principles that should be championed, but still, more could have been mentioned on ways to promote innovation, privacy, science, and consumer choice.

What should consumers know about cannabis edibles?

In the second season of the Netflix series Rotten, there is an entire episode exploring the world of cannabis edibles. It is highly recommended.

The documentary itself does a great job uncovering the latest innovations, the legal hurdles, and many questions left for consumers who want to try cannabis edibles where they’re legal.

Going beyond the documentary, what should consumers know about cannabis edibles?

Check out Rotten Season Two: “High on Edibles

First, we should make clear that markets are evolving as quick as the laws are being written.

Cannabis products containing THC, the actual psychoactive compound, remain a Schedule 1 drug per the Controlled Substances Act. This means the federal government believes cannabis (all strains) has a high potential for abuse, has no accepted medical use, and there is a lack of safety even under medical supervision.

However, since 2018’s Farm Bill, industrial hemp has been legal, opening the door for cannabis strains that contain the non-psychoactive CBD to be sold around the country. I testified on this important subject at an FDA hearing this spring.

Therefore, though we’re mostly discussing THC edibles, there is also a booming market for CBD edibles in stores throughout the United States, the legality of which seems to be supported by the legalization of industrial hemp. It is a gray zone that has not been clarified by any federal law.

Therefore, for THC edibles, they’re only technically legal for general consumers in the eleven U.S. states (including D.C.) that have legalized recreational cannabis.

Though the states differ in regulation, the most mature markets are in California, Oregon, Washington, and Nevada, which have fully functioning legal markets that include edible cannabis products, topicals, and cannabis extracts.

CANADA

Canada legalized recreational cannabis in October 2018, but the first phase only included cannabis flowers, to be smoked or cooked into edibles by consumers.

My colleague David Clement has written about the problematic laws in Canada, which differ by province and will only allow edible products this year.

Though cannabis edibles and extracts will be technically legal by Oct. 17, 2019 (nearly a year after legalization), Health Canada rules require companies to inform the federal government of their plans starting on that date, at least 60 days before they can sell. So it’ll be December before we see any edibles, topicals, and extracts on Canadian shelves.

EUROPE

The only jurisdiction that has any legal market in (THC) cannabis is in the Netherlands, but it is far from a commercial market. Because the cultivation and shipment of cannabis are technically illegal, the Dutch system is actually also a gray area, one in which the government tolerates cannabis sales but gives very little legal legitimacy.

That said, many European countries have shops that sell edible CBD products, usually containing less than 0.3% THC in most countries. And several countries such as Germany and Spain do offer medical cannabis, including edibles, but only in highly regulated circumstances.

UNITED STATES

Returning to the legal THC edible markets for cannabis in the United States, and to the most mature markets mentioned above, legal products in these states have grown in popularity in the years since legislation.

The latest figures from 2017 in Colorado, for example, show that edibles and concentrates now make up 36% of cannabis sales, up from just 30.5% two years prior.

These edibles range in potency and form, but often are found in gummies, cakes, cookies, lollipops, capsules, chocolates, drinks, and much more. Cannabis “shake” – pre-ground flower – is often sold to be infused with food at home.

According to the market firm CBD Analytics, gummies are now the most popular edible item found in cannabis dispensaries. In the first four months of 2019, sales of gummies alone in California, Oregon, and Colorado amounted to more than $115 million.

The states differ in how many milligrams of THC they allow, but following Colorado’s rules, each package contains 10mg or 100mg, 10mg being the standard “dose”. It is recommended that newcomers not ingest more than 5mg during their first try. Too high of a dose will result in a strong effect on the user.

TESTING

Testing of edibles is a requirement in these jurisdictions, mostly for potency, dangerous substances, and pesticides, and the results of these tests must be made available to both regulators and consumers. Thus far, most testing is conducted by private labs, which must be licensed by the states.

TAXATION

Of course, THC cannabis products are highly taxed in the jurisdictions where they are legal. The average excise tax is 15%, but then one must also add significant sales taxes as well. The Tax Foundation keeps great documentation on the competing tax rates on cannabis in states where it is legal.

It is recommended that these jurisdictions keep taxation moderate, lest they push consumers back into the illegal market because of too high prices.

ADVERTISING AND BRANDING

Laws on advertising and banding also are quite different between legal jurisdictions for these products. As we have noted in our Policy Primer on Smart Cannabis Policy, Washington State has some of the better laws when it comes to how much information companies can share or how much branding they’re allowed to put on the packages for edibles.

More branding and the ability to advertise make it possible for consumers to establish loyalty and root out bad apples. They also give consumers better information on the potency of edibles, the form, tastes, and what the products are best used for. That’s crucial for consumer choice.

WHAT SHOULD CONSUMERS KNOW?

  • Only a handful of U.S. states have legal THC cannabis edible markets
  • CBD edibles, thanks to the 2018 Farm Bill, are now widely available around the country
  • Cannabis edibles range in potency and form
  • Testing of cannabis edibles is highly regulated and must be conducted to check for potency, dangerous substances, and pesticides
  • Taxes are generally very high, but should be moderate to encourage the legal market
  • Advertising and branding rules sometimes limit what companies are allowed to tell consumers

Counterpoint: What about freedom to choose your care?

From atop the lecterns at the Democratic presidential debates and the White House, a common trope is dismantling and rejiggering how health care is delivered in America.

For those on the left, the emphasis is on expanding who can access government-backed health insurance programs while cutting off the role of the private sector. And on the right, President Donald Trump is looking to import drugs and pharmaceutical price controls from abroad.

Missing in both of these visions is the essential component that governs every other sector of the economy: the freedom to choose.

Much like housing, transportation and education, it’s clear that the entire health care sector needs disruption. We need some out-of-the-box thinking, innovation and on-demand delivery that will bring costs down for ordinary people.

It’s this formula that has empowered millions to rise out of poverty, make a decent living for their families, and expand consumer choice to makes their lives better.

But both the Democrats and Trump are leading Americans astray on what really matters when it comes to health care.

Sens. Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker and Kamala Harris have serious proposals to totally ban the private health care market in favor of a “Medicare for All” system. That means every American would be thrown into the government insurance program reserved for our seniors.

All administration, billing, reimbursement claims and hospital contracts for more than 350 million people would be handled by the federal government. For a country as unique, diverse and large as the United States, this just couldn’t be carried out effectively.

Such plans would make it illegal for Americans to choose the type of health care coverage that fit them best, depriving them of fundamental choices.

Many younger working people don’t have comprehensive insurance because it doesn’t make economic sense. They would rather pay out of pocket for small expenses and use high-deductible disaster insurance when necessary.

For the 8.8 percent of Americans without health insurance, would they benefit from a mass reorganization of the system that would offer the care reserved for our seniors if the cost comes in the form of higher taxes and less consumer choice?

The same applies to Trump’s well-intended but flawed plans on importing drugs from single-payer systems around the world.

The reason pharmaceutical drugs are more expensive has more to do with subsidies than cost. Most drugs are born from innovative American firms but are subsidized greatly or negotiated for lower rates by governments who import them.

Firms can afford this because it’s offset by American prices, meaning the rest of the world is free-riding on American innovation and intellectual property.

They achieve this by reducing access and choice. It’s no secret that the lion’s share of pharmaceutical drugs are available in the United States while they’re unavailable in the countries that refuse to pay for them. So yes, the prices of drugs may be cheaper in Canada or Norway, but the supply and choices are lacking.

Do we want fewer choices of drugs for lower costs or more choices and prices at market rate?

What matters most when it comes to our personal health is the freedom to choose. Whether it is our doctor, insurance program or drugs we buy, Americans want to be able to pick what works best from them.

Grandiose plans that seek to completely reorganize how many taxes we pay and how we receive care would severely restrict that.

Originally published here.


The Consumer Choice Center is the consumer advocacy group supporting lifestyle freedom, innovation, privacy, science, and consumer choice. The main policy areas we focus on are digital, mobility, lifestyle & consumer goods, and health & science.

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

Green Activists Hate Trump More Than They Love Animals

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) just made history by announcing a plan to end wasteful taxpayer-funded animal testing by 2035. This is a huge win, but regulation-happy green groups criticizing the move have made clear that they hate the Trump administration more than they love animals and the environment.

Upon its release, the EPA’s landmark proposal was welcomed by animal-loving taxpayer advocates like us, as well as industry leaders, animal advocates, and scientists because it will eliminate wasteful and misleading animal tests that reduce consumer access to safe products, cost taxpayers tens of millions of dollars annually, handcuff industry, and needlessly harm animals. The news even united lawmakers at far opposite ends of the political spectrum like Republican Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz and Democratic Tennessee Rep. Steve Cohen who worked together with White Coat Waste Project to expose the EPA’s animal tests last year.

Bloomberg’s Adam Allington tweeted, “In a rare moment of accord, the Trump EPA has done something many progressives can get behind — Setting a fairly ambitious plan to phase out chemical testing on animals.”

But not all progressives are cheering. In response to the EPA’s announcement, the Natural Resource Defense Council (NRDC) voiced partisan outrage, alleging: “Trump Administration Guts Collection of Data on Toxic Chemicals.” NRDC alleges that without animal studies, it would be “much harder to identify toxic chemicals — and protect human health.” How so?

Animal testing represents the dark-ages of regulatory policy. It was more relevant when our tools to measure risk were primitive, but today’s technology allows much more precise ways to evaluate real-world risks. Researchers have repeatedly shown that 21st century technologies based on human biology — not crude and contrived tests in which rabbits, dogs and other animals are forced to swallow and breathe massive doses of chemicals — are best at predicting health effects in humans. Because of the inherent uncertainty of extrapolating from results on animals to humans, it is necessary to build in huge safety factors for human exposure.

But now, with more accurate scientific methods, we no longer need to rely on animal studies and the precautionary regulatory limits we had to accept a generation ago. Better precision will allow us to safely benefit from advanced chemistry such as the use of silicones which are essential to environmentally-friendly technologies such as modern energy-efficient lighting.

So why would environmental activists, who we’d think have an affinity towards animals, be up in arms over the move? We have a theory.

It’s that these activists are so hell-bent on banning synthetic chemicals that they are willing to support outmoded risk analysis tools to achieve their political agenda, even if it requires torturing animals.

An NRDC staffer told reporters about the modern non-animal tests, “If the tests themselves are not indicating a toxic effect, then EPA is presuming there is no toxic effect.” So, even though these new technologies are more accurate at predicting human risks, the greens apparently prefer the animal tests precisely because of the uncertainty they introduce, which can delay or prevent safe products from coming to market.

Last year, based on misleading animal testing, a California judge ordered Starbucks and other coffee sellers in the state to put cancer warnings on coffee. But it turned out the results were irrelevant to humans, for whom normal amounts of coffee consumption is safe, and the warning was called off.

Warning about a product when risks are not well-understood is prudent. But it would be absurd to continue to warn after the best science tells us there’s nothing to worry about, like in the case of 1,000 studies showing coffee is safe for humans and actually has health benefits. That’s exactly what environmentalists want.

Why? They have an extreme agenda that seeks to eliminate as many synthetic chemicals as possible based on an unscientific view that synthetic chemicals are killing the earth. So to gain broader public support, they’ve long feasted on uncertainty about human health allegations to build support for their anti-chemical ideology. But with better regulatory science now available, the ploy is no longer viable.

The move should please just about everyone except for extremists. A 2018 national poll found that 79 percent of Republicans and 68 percent of Democrats want to cut EPA’s animal testing.

Scientific innovation, appropriate regulation and bold leadership can resolve some of the world’s most intractable problems — and advance a more civil society at the same time.

Opposition to the EPA’s embrace of better regulatory science exposes the true colors of the radical green groups: they are willing to needlessly sacrifice not only animals, but scientific advances themselves, in order to achieve their narrow agenda.

Originally published here.


The Consumer Choice Center is the consumer advocacy group supporting lifestyle freedom, innovation, privacy, science, and consumer choice. The main policy areas we focus on are digital, mobility, lifestyle & consumer goods, and health & science.

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

The Consumer Choice Center talked with Vicki McKenna about the “Don’t Vape” hearing

Washington D.C – Our Senior Fellow Jeff Stier sat down with Vicki McKenna for a quick chat about #Vaping, her recent testimony for the House Oversight and Reform Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy hearing, and how she became a public health hero for the harm-reduction campaign.


For more facts on vaping, read our research on the Myths and Facts on Vaping: What Policymakers Should Know


The Consumer Choice Center is the consumer advocacy group supporting lifestyle freedom, innovation, privacy, science, and consumer choice. The main policy areas we focus on are digital, mobility, lifestyle & consumer goods, and health & science.

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

Public security must be a priority in Europe’s 5G rollout

A national assessment of the risks associated with the next generation of communications infrastructure is the first step toward an EU-wide cyber-security strategy.

The European Commission’s incoming president, Ursula von Der Leyen, will have a series of politically delicate hurdles to contend with in the field of cyber security when she assumes office on 1 November 2019.

Not least is the domain of 5G communications, where the EU has come under increased pressure from its American counterparts to adopt a hostile position against next-generation technologies emanating from Asia-based companies.

Following a Commission recommendation for a common EU approach to the security of 5G networks, member states have recently submitted national risk assessments that provide an overview of their most pressing concerns in the future development of 5G infrastructure. These will feed into the next phase, an EU-wide risk assessment to be completed by 1 October 2019, which the Commission says will be the first step toward implementing a real cyber-security strategy across the EU.

Is this so important for ordinary users and consumers? It’s not so long ago that we heard the news about vendors from illiberal countries being involved in scandals such as the backdoors in Vodafone Italia’s fibre network provided by Huawei. As we move to a society where connected devices are part of daily life, from smart lights to smart home locks to connected cars, the privacy and security of the network will be central to everyday life.

According to research by analysts Berg Insight, there were a total of 22.5 million smart homes in Europe at the end of 2017. This number is predicted to grow to 84 million homes by the end of 2022, representing a market penetration of 35 per cent. Add to this an estimated 45 million smart homes in the United States at the end of 2017.

Consumers want to be able to rely on their network provider to keep what happens inside their smart buildings private and stored securely. For this reason, security must be a defining feature of the standards and norms that govern the global ICT supply chain, as well as the individual pieces of software and hardware that businesses and consumers depend on. Inaction risks undermining the ability of businesses and individuals to exercise meaningful choice in critical 5G and other ICT products and services.

Some of the EU’s largest member states, including Germany and Italy, have used the auctions of spectrum licenses as a cash cow for their national budgets instead of seeing newly utilised frequencies as a gamechanger for consumer connectivity. This has led to the undesired consequence that many operators are cash-strapped and tend to go for cheaper and less trustworthy infrastructure providers. The result is a toxic reliance on very few suppliers, some of whom are accused of operating with questionable motives.

If the next Commission wants to successfully secure the digital ecosystem, it has to coordinate technical standards for interoperability, such as the more trustworthy open-source solutions, and promote an environment based on transparency and trust to make sure national governments will implement liability rules for operators and resellers of software and devices that expose consumers to the risk of malicious and illegal interference. This is the only way to protect consumers, promote innovation and foster safe digital lives for consumers.

Luca Bertoletti is senior European affairs manager at consumer advocacy group the Consumer Choice Center.

Article originally published here.


The Consumer Choice Center is the consumer advocacy group supporting lifestyle freedom, innovation, privacy, science, and consumer choice. The main policy areas we focus on are digital, mobility, lifestyle & consumer goods, and health & science.

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

Lawyers are already using misinformation on vaping to start class action lawsuits

The goal of these legal firms is to drum up as much misinformation on vaping as possible in order to file large class-action lawsuits that will end up financially benefiting them. This is outrageous and irresponsible.

Consumer Choice Champions: The Legislators Fighting Michigan Governor’s Vape Ban

Earlier this month, the state of Michigan took the unprecedented step of outlawing the sale of all vaping and e-cigarette products.

This move will deprive millions of Michiganders of the opportunity to switch away from more harmful methods of consuming nicotine.

Since the ban was announced unilaterally by Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, several committee hearings have been held in the capital of Lansing to discuss the broader issue of vaping’s effects on health, nicotine, and teen access to these products.

Witnesses have provided testimony on the effectiveness of vaping products, how they saved their lives, and why a ban on flavors will directly lead to more harm for thousands of former smokers.

Once such testimony, by Mark Slis, a scientist, vape shop owner, and former smoker in Houghton County, has since gone viral.

Some lawmakers, as a result of these hearings, have taken it upon themselves to fight against the governor’s rash ban.

On Thursday, a bill was introduced in the Michigan State House of Representatives to rescind the ban and to limit the governor’s authority to carry out such orders without properly consulting the State Legislature.

Led by State Rep. Beau LaFave from the Upper Peninsula, the other co-sponsors on the bill were State Reps. Greg Markkanen, Steven Johnson, Matt Maddock, Gary Eisen, Jack O’Malley, Aaron Miller, and Luke Meerman.

“I am getting frustrated with the governor’s double-speak,” said primary bill sponsor LaFave. “First she said she was going to ban flavored e-cigarettes immediately, then after intense public pressure, she decided her administration would take two months to reevaluate. Unfortunately, New York has announced it will implement a similar ban. In a rush to be the first state in the nation to implement this stupid policy, the governor has changed her mind once again, and ordered all businesses to destroy millions of dollars in merchandise within 14 days.”

“I don’t care if the executive is a Republican or Democrat nor a governor or president,” said LaFave. “Bad public policies implemented without input from lawmakers should never be ignored. I urge my colleagues from both sides of the aisle to look at all the facts before we rush to judgement and put thousands of Michiganders out of work and force thousands more back to smoking combustible cigarettes.”

The bill has now been sent to the Committee on Government Operations and will be heard next week.

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