Luxembourg is expected to become the next country to legalise recreational cannabis – which would make it the first country in the EU to pass such a motion.

THE SPIRIT BUSINESS: According to the Consumer Choice Center (CCC), the incoming coalition has announced it will legalise the recreational use of cannabis, which will form part of the coalition manifesto for the next five years.

Bill Wirtz, policy analyst at CCC, from Luxembourg, said the move by coalition would send a “strong message to other countries in the EU”.

“The ice is broken,” Wirtz said. “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.”

READ MORE

mm

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.

Politically charged European Court of Justice rules for continued ban on snus

The European Court of Justice on 22 November decided against overturning the European Union-wide ban on the smokeless tobacco snus. The ruling displays a political public health motivation, writes Bill Wirtz, policy analyst for the Consumer Choice Centre, for EU Reporter.

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 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.

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

Republished at https://www.medicalbrief.co.za/archives/politically-charged-european-court-justice-rules-continued-ban-snus/

mm

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.

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.

READ MORE

mm

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/

mm

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.”

READ MORE

mm

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.

READ MORE

mm

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.”

READ MORE

mm

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.”

READ MORE

mm

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.

Invoering neutrale sigarettenverpakkingen zal geen effect hebben op publieke gezondheid

MEDICAL FACTS: De Nederlandse overheid probeert om, samen met de Belgische overheid, een van de nieuwe landen in Europa te worden die neutrale verpakkingen voor tabakswaren invoert. Deze maatregel zou Nederland met dezelfde ongewenste gevolgen opzadelen als die reeds zichtbaar zijn in landen waar neutrale verpakkingen reeds de norm zijn.

Bill Wirtz, beleidsanalist voor het Consumer Choice Center (CCC) zegt dat de Nederlandse overheid moet kijken naar de feiten.

“Neutrale verpakkingen bestaan reeds in Australië, Frankrijk, het Verenigd Koninkrijk en Ierland. In geen een van deze landen blijkt dat het tabaksgebruik gedaald is door deze neutrale verpakkingen”

Rookgedrag

“De faculteit economie van de Universiteit van Zurich in Zwitserland voerde in 2014 reeds een onderzoek naar de mogelijke effecten van dergelijke verpakkingen op het rookgedrag van jongeren in Australië. Uit dit onderzoek blijkt dat de neutrale verpakking geen enkel effect had op het tabaksverbruik bij jongeren van 14 tot 17 jaar.”

“De Franse overheid heeft zelfs 100 miljoen euro uitgegeven om alle resterende gekleurde tabaksverpakkingen te kopen, terwijl de onverschilligheid van gebruikers reeds aangetoond was. De globale tabakscomsumptie kende daarbij geen daling.”

Neutrale verpakking

“Meer nog: de neutrale verpakkingen faciliteren de verkoop van valse sigaretten op de zwarte markt, aangezien alle verpakkingen op elkaar gelijken. Australië, die de neutrale verpakkingen in 2012 invoerde, kende een stijging van 30% namaak-tabak in amper 2 jaar. In Frankrijk toonde een onderzoek uit 2015, voor de invoering van de neutrale verpakkingen, reeds aan dat het land maar liefst goed was voor de consumptie van 15% van namaak-tabak op de Europese markt. Dit aandeel kan enkel gestegen zijn door de nieuwe wetgeving”, vervolledigt Wirtz.

READ MORE

mm

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.