Harm Reduction Campaign

Lawmakers Approve Vaping Tax, Raises Age For Tobacco Products To 21

The Senate Finance Committee on Friday passed a measure to raise the tobacco tax in Georgia from 37 cents per pack to $1.35.

Lawmakers on the last day of the legislative session passed a bill taxing vaping products for the first time and raising the age to purchase tobacco products to 21.

The move, when signed by Gov. Brian Kemp, means an estimated $9.6 million and $14.5 million in extra revenue for the state. However, that is far less than the $600 million that was left on the table by not increasing the sales tax on cigarettes, according to the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute, or GBPI.

Georgia ranks 48th out of 50 for the lowest cigarette tax in the nation.

“If we just assessed that fee of $1.80 on vaping and cigarettes that would raise $600 million a year and just make us average in the nation,” GBPI analyst Danny Kanso said.

That’s because a bill to raise the tobacco tax in Georgia from 37 cents per pack to $1.35 stalled even after passing the Senate Finance Committee last Friday.

Sen. Chuck Hufstetler, who chairs the finance committee, talked about the cuts with GPB’s Bill Nigut on Political Rewind on Thursday morning.

“It’s not just money, it’s health care, too,” he said. “And I just don’t understand why our state doesn’t move forward in that.”

Opponents to the vaping tax said communities of color and lower-income Georgians will be most affected.

Yaël Ossowski, deputy director of the Consumer Choice Center, said such a significant vaping tax will come at the expense of poor consumers, and may push smokers across the state back to combustible products.

But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and public health organizations around the nation have been investigating illnesses related to vaping since last year. At least six Georgians have died from severe lung disease due to vaping, according to the Department of Public Health.

Dr. Saranya Selvaraj said she will never forget how school-aged children watched as their mother’s lung cancer metastasized to her brain before she died. The woman was only in her 50s.

“You go through chemo. You’re in the hospital. You’re on oxygen. You’re in hospice, and it’s a really long, drawn out process that involves a lot of pain,” Selvaraj said. “And then, eventually, you’re just separated from your family by death.”

She said thousands of similar deaths are completely preventable.

The doctor, who treats patients across the metro Atlanta area, said roughly 80 to 90% of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease cases are directly related to tobacco products. If people stopped smoking, they would see health benefits and long-term savings, Selvaraj said.

“In the long run, if we’re able to use the money on the tobacco tax to help fund tobacco-cessation programs (and)  tobacco-use prevention programs, we are going to help keep people in these communities have longer, healthier lives and save money,” she said.

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

Piden a AMLO reconsiderar la prohibición de cigarrillos electrónicos

CIUDAD DE MÉXICO (apro).—El Centro para la Elección de los Consumidores (CCC, por su siglas en inglés) hizo un llamado al gobierno de Andrés Manuel López Obrador a reconsiderar la prohibición de la importación y exportación de vaporizadores, a través de un decreto emitido el pasado 19 de febrero.

De acuerdo con la organización dicha medida va en contra de la necesidad de regular el mercado de dichos productos y, por el contrario, fomenta la distribución y venta de artículos ilegales, a través de cárteles y el crimen organizado.

El CCC, promotor de mercados reguladores en sector como alimentos, transportación y salud, alertó que las consecuencias de la disposición presidencial no terminan en el fomento de un mercado ilícito de sustancias y dispositivos de dudosa calidad, sino en el impacto que tendrán en los consumidores mexicanos.

“Ante la imposibilidad de comprar artículos legales y regulados, podrían caer en las garras de contrabandistas y adquirir productos que podrían provocarles enfermedades pulmonares e incluso la muerte, tal como sucedió en Estados Unidos en la segunda mitad del año pasado”, señaló en un comunicado.

Al respecto, la CCC recordó que la propia autoridad sanitaria de Estados Unidos afirmó categóricamente que la intoxicación y muertes de varios usuarios de cigarros electrónicos obedeció a la vaporización de líquidos ilícitos de THC provenientes del mercado negro.

Es decir, no respondió a la actividad propia del vapeo, sino al uso de sustancias prohibidas, lo cual podría ocurrir en México ante la negativa del gobierno por regular los vaporizadores, con todo y que se ha demostrado científicamente que son una auténtica opción para dejar el consumo de cigarros tradicionales.

Sobre este punto, la organización internacional destacó que el principal organismo de salud del Reino Unido, Public Health England, ha afirmado repetidas veces que el vapeo y el consumo de los cigarrillos electrónicos son un 95% menos perjudiciales que fumar, por lo cual los vaporizadores son parte de una política pública para combatir el tabaquismo en esa región.

La organización exhortó al gobierno mexicano a “impulsar la legalidad, escuchar las diferentes posturas y promover mercados regulados, con el objetivo de que los consumidores tengan acceso a productos de calidad y que no atenten en contra de su integridad”.

Además insistió en que el decreto presidencial mencionado causará exactamente lo que está tratando de prevenir: Más enfermedades pulmonares y constituirse en un programa de estímulo para los cárteles y el crimen organizado.

Originally published here.

Cigarette and alcohol bans are unprecedented and misguided

The cigarette ban has polarised South Africans. Picture: iStock/Gallo Images

Policies that were intended to make a public health crisis more manageable could end up adding fuel to the fire and be the last straw for the health system to collapse.


While South Africa’s alcohol ban has been partially relaxed, smokers and vapers are still being deprived of purchasing both cigarettes and e-liquids.

What was first a temporary health measure in March, during the early days of the lockdown, has now moved well beyond temporary and is actively infringing on South African’s freedom to choose.

Luckily, South Africa has not been one of the worst countries hit by Covid-19. That said, the country’s public policy response to fully ban the sale of alcohol and nicotine is one of the most heavy-handed in the world.

As a nicotine consumer in the United Kingdom, one of the most impacted countries globally, I was always able to go to my local corner store and purchase new vape cartridges or a pack of cigarettes. In normal times, these products are a nice distraction from a stressful day.

During an unprecedented lockdown, it played an important role in keeping me sane, allowing me to deal with the reality of having my movement limited, something that billions of people experienced for the first time.

In reflecting on my ability to purchase these products during the pandemic, it becomes quite clear that SA President Cyril Ramaphosa’s bans were a massive overreach. The ban was justified by the president under the banner of public health, but wasbased on flawed science.

While Ramaphosa justified the ban to protect the respiratory systems of South Africans, nicotine consumption might actually be beneficial to patients as it might prevent and reduce the likelihood of strong Covid-19 symptoms. Against scientific evidence, he and his health minister stated that smokers would benefit from the ban and announced an extension of the ban.

It looks like this policy had more to do with forcing smokers to quit cold turkey, than having anything to do with Covid-19.

And, while consumers and retailers in South Africa suffer from this government overreach, organised crime and the black market flourish.

Global networks, such as BBC and CNN, featured stories about booming alcohol and cigarette black market businesses in times of lockdowns, which acted as a real stimulus programme for illegal dealers.

When walking in my local grocery store in London, I see significant efforts from staff to keep the place clean, have as little interaction with clients, and keep physical contact to a minimum. All of this helps to reduce the spread of the virus.

Illegal dealers don’t comply with public health recommendations to help stop the spread of the virus because they are already engaging in illegal acts. Banning the sale of these products doesn’t mean that South Africans won’t be buying them, it just means that they won’t be getting them in safe, legal settings. An increase in black market activity puts more citizens at risk for spreading the virus, which is a losing scenario for everyone involved.

The danger from increased demand for illegal cigarettes or bootleg alcohol doesn’t end with the spread of the virus. Poor, and often dangerous, product quality could further strain South Africa’s public health system. We know from decades of observation that black market products are far riskier for consumers.

While committing these illegal acts, dealers and producers almost always cut corners, which just exacerbates the existing public health concerns that exist for alcohol and nicotine.

Simply put, in trying to stop South Africans from consuming alcohol or nicotine, Ramaphosa has pushed his citizens into the hands of criminal actors, and the dangerous products that they sell.

Policies that were intended to make a public health crisis more manageable could end up adding fuel to the fire and be the last straw for the health system to collapse.

South Africa should end the ban on product sales as soon as possible and follow countries like the UK, Brazil, Canada or Germany and legalise the sale of nicotine products.

– Fred Roeder is managing director of the Consumer Choice Center, a consumer advocacy group that has received funding from the tobacco, cannabis, energy, consumer goods and vaping industries.

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

Prohibition and paternalism are always wrong, especially in a pandemic

Canada, in contrast to South Africa, responded to Covid-19 by ensuring that Canadians would continue to have access to alcohol, nicotine, and even cannabis during the lockdown. Ontario also allowed cannabis retailers to offer kerbside pick-up and delivery options.

David Clement and Martin van Staden – The recent full-scale lockdown is something that most people experienced for the first time in their lives. Countries like Canada and the United Kingdom, hit harder by Covid-19, enacted public policy that attempted to keep life as normal as possible by expanding consumer choice to compensate for the disruption. South Africa, in contrast, made the reality of the lockdown leaps and bounds worse by preventing consumer access to alcohol and nicotine, which drove consumers to the black market and forced addicts into withdrawal amidst a pandemic.

The continued prohibition on cigarette (and even e-cigarette) sales – alcohol is being sold freely again – is now being heard in court. South Africa is one of only three countries, the others being India and Botswana, to ban cigarettes during its lockdown. Government has asked, should the court find Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma’s regulations to be unlawful, that the matter be referred back to her for reconsideration rather than declaring them void.

Canada, in comparison to South Africa, responded to the pandemic by expanding consumer choice, and ensuring that Canadians would continue to have access to alcohol, nicotine, and even cannabis during the lockdown. Ontario, which is Canada’s largest province, declared convenience stores essential businesses, allowing them to operate from the start of the lockdown onward. This ensured that residents could still have access to nicotine products.

For alcohol, Ontario declared their state-owned liquor stores were essential, mandated that they remain open throughout the lockdown, and even went so far as to liberalise the hours of sale to offer consumers more choice and to avoid overcrowding. In addition, the Ontario government allowed for restaurants to offer alcohol with their food order deliveries, something that was previously prohibited. The province even did the same for cannabis retailers, allowing them to remain open by offering consumers kerbside pick-up and delivery options.

South Africa enacted its alcohol and tobacco/nicotine ban under the mantra of public health and protecting the healthcare system. This is a problematic approach for a few reasons. The first is that a full ban on these products recreates prohibition, which puts consumer safety at risk when consumers seek these products in the illegal market. Consumers accessing dangerous black-market products run the risk of increasing hospitalisations.

It will no doubt be argued that South Africa is unlike Canada. There is an underdeveloped healthcare system which has come under unbearable strain during the Covid-19 pandemic, and our population suffers from a host of ailments not easily found in the West, particularly tuberculosis. This, to some, means the drastic limitations imposed on personal freedoms here are justified.

The horrific stories of a man from Brakpan and a couple from Port Nolloth dying after consuming unsafe, homemade alcohol are illustrative of the consequences of prohibition. The proximate cause of their deaths might have been the dangerous substances they consumed, but the source of the problem was the government’s insistence that it knew best. The social contract never included an agreement that it was acceptable for the government to use a pandemic to paternalistically ban otherwise legal products. As a result, citizens have continued to, and will continue to, buy those products whether they are prohibited or not.

To make matters worse, South Africa’s approach flew in the face of harm reduction by also banning the sale of vaping products, which are 95% less harmful than traditional tobacco products. Not only has the government of South Africa pushed consumers into the hands of the black market, it has also banned one of the most successful smoking cessation tools available to consumers. If the goal of banning products is to protect public health, the last thing that should be banned is reduced risk cessation tools like vaping.

But the ban on vaping does not depart from the South African government’s already well-known paternalistic opposition to this alternative to smoking. The facts will not be allowed to stand in the way of political ideology and alliances.

It will no doubt be argued that South Africa is unlike Canada. There is an underdeveloped healthcare system which has come under unbearable strain during the Covid-19 pandemic, and our population suffers from a host of ailments not easily found in the West, particularly tuberculosis. This, to some, means the drastic limitations imposed on personal freedoms here are justified.

But a study in 28 countries found that there are fewer smokers, who presumably have weaker lungs, among Covid-19 hospitalisations than non-smokers. Research indicating that nicotine might in some way be inhibiting the spread of Covid-19 has hardly been limited to a single, vested interest source, but has come from all over. Nicotine, in other words, may help ensure that one does not contract the virus. If a smoker does end up being hospitalised for Covid-19, however, then there is certainly a greater risk.

Moreover, the overstretched and hopelessly inadequate public healthcare system is the government’s own making. Not only has the government historically done everything in its power to waste the money taxpayers have paid over to it through inefficiency, corruption, and incompetence, but the government has also let the lockdown, which was intended to allow for capacity-building, go to waste.

Rumours of another billion-rand bailout for South African Airways, or the establishment of another doomed national airline, should leave no room for doubt in the minds of our critics that the government has had, and currently has, the resources to run a tight ship in its healthcare system. It is by corrupt choice, and the lack of market-driven incentives, that this does not materialise. The constitutional freedoms South Africans are endowed with should not fall victim to the desire to give a malicious government “another chance”.

In 2017, Canada ranked 8th highest in the world for respecting the economic freedom of citizens. It is this deference to adults who can make their own decisions that, over the years enabled Canada and other countries in the top quintile of economic freedom to have economies and societies capacitated enough to deal with Covid-19. 

South Africa, ranked a poor 101st in the same index, has through its policy choices dug its own grave. It’s never too late to course-correct, but this requires paternalistic attitudes to be abandoned. 

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

Enfermedades respiratorias detonará el decreto de prohibir vaporizadores

Los vaporizadores constituyen la alternativa para dejar el consumo de cigarros, pues son 95% menos dañinos que fumar

Activistas afirman que los vaporizadores constituyen la alternativa para dejar el consumo de cigarros, pues son 95% menos dañinos que fumar.

Se realizó la 7ª edición del Global Forum on Nicotine, que en esta ocasión se llevó a cabo online y en donde participaron más de 30 especialistas de 15 países.

Contrario a su objetivo, el decreto presidencial para prohibir la importación y exportación de vaporizadores detonará en México la presencia de enfermedades pulmonares, alertaron especialistas en el marco del Séptimo Foro Global de Nicotina (GFN), en donde participaron más de 30 especialistas de 15 países.

En el marco del evento, que tuvo lugar lo días 11 y 12 de junio y que por esta ocasión se desarrolló por internet por la emergencia sanitaria, el Centro para la Elección de los Consumidores (CONSUMER CHOICE CENTER), afirmó que el decreto que emitió el gobierno de México el pasado 19 de febrero para prohibir la importación y exportación de cigarros electrónicos y/o productos de tabaco calentado tendrá graves consecuencias negativas para la salud, al presionar a los usuarios de vapeadores mexicanos a comprar productos en el mercado negro.

“México -explicó la organización-, tiene un mercado bien desarrollado para sustancias ilícitas, liderado por los carteles y, sirve como un centro de tránsito masivo para el tráfico mundial de drogas. No le costará mucho al crimen organizado contrabandear productos de vapeo de países vecinos a México y venderlos en el mercado negro o (aún más preocupante) vender líquidos de vapeo falsificados a vapeadores mexicanos”.

“La crisis de vapeo en Estados Unidos que refiere el propio decreto presidencial mexicano -agregó la institución-, fue causada por líquidos ilícitos de vapeo con THC y acetato de vitamina E del mercado negro. Empujar a los vapeadores mexicanos al mercado negro causará exactamente lo que el Decreto intenta evitar: Más enfermedades pulmonares”.

En el marco del evento que reunió a especialistas de países como el Reino Unido, Canadá, Estados Unidos, México, India, Italia, Grecia, Nueva Zelanda y Suiza, el Centro para la Elección de los Consumidores dijo que irónicamente la Organización Mundial de la Salud (OMS), reconoció la prohibición de vapear de México como un logro de salud pública, aunque la postura antivapeo de México mantendrá a los fumadores y consumidores de nicotina limitados al consumo único de cigarrillos tradicionales.

Al respecto, John Oyston, Jefe de Anestesiología del Hospital Scarborough de Canadá, y quien también participó en el foro, destacó los beneficios que han demostrado los vaporizadores en el proceso para abandonar el consumo de cigarros convencionales, tal como lo sostiene el principal organismo de salud del Reino Unido, el Public Health England, el cual afirma que el vapeo es 95 por ciento menos dañino que fumar.

Por ello, al igual que el resto de los participantes, reprochó la intención en algunos países, como Estados Unidos, de prohibir el uso de vaporizadores.

Cabe destacar que la principal diferencia entre los vaporizadores y los cigarros convencionales es la combustión, pues mientras que en los primeros se genera vapor (vaporización de sustancias), en el segundo es humo, derivado de la quema de tabaco y químicos, lo que daña directamente la salud de quien lo consume y de terceros que inhalan el humo.

En el evento también participó el mexicano Roberto Sussman, director de Provapeo México, quien alertó que existe una avalancha de desinformación sobre el uso y ventajas del vapeo respecto al consumo de cigarros convencionales. 

Por lo general, el GFN se financia únicamente con tarifas de registro. Este año, se ofreció de forma gratuita con los organizadores a cargo del costo. El evento tiene una política de puertas abiertas. Los consumidores, los encargados de formular políticas, los académicos, los científicos y los expertos en salud pública participan junto con representantes de fabricantes y distribuidores de productos de nicotina más seguros.

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

Narcos 3.0: Mexico declares War on Vaping and repeats old prohibitionists mistakes

When Mexico’s far-left President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (or short AMLO) ran for office in 2018, he and his platform promised an end to the decade-long war on drugs in Mexico. He acknowledged that prohibitionist policies cause more harm than they do good. Ironically that same President issued a surprise presidential decree on February 19 banning the import of e-cigarettes, vapes, and heated tobacco products. The order even forbids the import of nicotine-free vaping liquids.

AMLO declared the War on Vaping

The Presidential decree relies heavily on scare tactics, invoking the U.S. “vaping crisis” to justify Mexico’s ban. But even the U.S. CDC and AMLO’s decree concede the “vaping crisis” was actually caused by illicit black market vaping liquids. Pushing Mexican vapers to the black market will exactly cause what the order claims it is trying to prevent: more lung diseases.

Even before this decree, Mexico had opaque vaping regulations, that had to be clarified by a supreme court ruling and allowed at least certain manufacturers to sell e-cigarettes to the country’s roughly 1.2 million vapers.

These vapers are now being left alone with no access to nicotine products that are less harmful than conventional cigarettes, and that in times of lockdowns and people spending most of their week at home thanks to COVID. Two scenarios are most likely to happen if the decree does not get annulled:

  • Narcos 3.0: Mexico has a well developed black market for illicit substances, and, as regular Netflix viewers know, it serves as a massive transit hub for the global drug trade. It wouldn’t take much for organized crime to either smuggle legal vaping products from neighboring countries into Mexico and sell them on the black market or (even more concerning) sell counterfeited vaping liquids to Mexican vapers. The vaping crisis in the United States, which the Presidential decree instrumentalizes for its ban, was caused by illicit black market vaping liquids. Pushing Mexican vapers to the black market will exactly cause what the order tried to prevent: More lung diseases. 
  • Back to the ciggie: Even is the more dramatic scenario of a booming vaping black market might not come true (mainly due to the low margins on nicotine products compared to Cannabis or Cocaine), we would still see over a million vapers left behind. It is more likely that most of them will switch back to smoking regular cigarettes instead of switching to nicotine patches or entirely quit. That, in turn, would also lead to worse public health outputs.

We can see that AMLO’s decree will have serious, negative unintended consequences contrary to its own objectives.

Perhaps the most concerning is that the World Health Organization lauded Mexico’s vaping ban as a public health achievement, it fails to recognize that Mexico’s anti-vape stance will keep smokers and nicotine consumers locked in with combustible cigarettes. This policy deprives them of the choice to switch to the 95% less harmful vapes. The Consumer Choice Center’s interactive vaping map shows that up to 3.3 million additional Mexican smokers could switch to vaping if the government would emulate the UK’s progressive and science-based vaping laws.

Better vaping policies could help millions of Mexicans

So instead of cracking further down on vaping, Mexico should embrace tobacco harm reduction. Due to COVID and the parliamentary schedule, the Mexican Congress is currently out of session. Still, there is a window for legislative action when Congress returns to operation in the fall.

Consumer groups, vaping advocates, and the scientific community need to use this window of opportunity to explain more Mexican politicians and regulators the benefits of vaping and help busting myths around the United States’ vaping crisis. Initial protests against this misguided decree started already in March. This multi-lingual paper on the Myths and Facts on Vaping, written by my colleagues Yael Ossowski and Bill Wirtz explains the reasons behind the perceived vaping crisis in the US and is also available in Spanish. Probably an essential message in this paper for politicians is this one:

MYTH #3: VAPING IS THE CAUSE OF RECENTLY REPORTED RESPIRATORY ILLNESSES

Much cause for concern of late has been a flurry of reports of illness and hospitalizations blamed on traditional vaping devices and liquids. The CDC has reported nearly 380 cases of lung illnesses related to vaping. Sensational headlines and opinion articles have convinced leaders in several states and even President Donald Trump to consider banning vaping flavors outright.

But careful analysis of the reported cases reveals that a vast majority of the patients with symptoms were found to have used illicit vape cartridges mixed with the cannabis compound THC. 

A study in the New England Journal of Medicine that examined cases in Illinois and Wisconsin found that 84% of hospitalized patients report using illicit THC vaping cartridges prior to their illness. No illnesses have yet been tied to store-bought vaping pods or liquids containing nicotine.

To that end, two Wisconsin brothers were recently arrested in connection with a multi-million dollar operation that mixed various chemicals (including Vitamin E) with THC in cartridges meant for vaping devices, which they then sold illegally. Authorities have identified this large scheme spread across much of the Midwest as a culprit in the recent lung illnesses there.

What this reveals is that illicit vaping products sold on black markets, rather than licensed retailers, have actually caused the most severe of the lung illnesses reported in the media. 

As such, a ban on regulated devices and liquids, whether with flavors or not, would not address the problem as it currently exists.

By pushing vaping into the black market and Mexican vapers going back to the cigarette, AMLO will (despite the thunderous applause from the World Health Organization) further weaken Mexico’s public health outputs. If he is passionate about fighting lung diseases he should make access to legal and safe ways of consuming nicotine easier and not harder. Everything else is just a stimulus program for organized crime and lung specialists.

Alberta’s new vape laws will discourage smokers from making the switch

For every vape pod not purchased, 6.2 extra packs of cigarettes were purchased instead.

Alberta’s new vaping regulations are a huge step backwards for harm reduction, and ultimately public health. This week, Health Minister Tyler Shandro announced that Alberta – in an attempt to curb youth vaping – will move to regulate vaping in the same manner as cigarettes, which includes age restrictions, restrictions on where consumers can vape, where advertising can be displayed, and possibly a ban on flavours.

It should be clearly said that vaping products are harm reduction tools for adult smokers, and that curbing youth access is a noble and worthy cause. That said, beyond the age restriction, Alberta’s approach to vaping is bad public policy.

First off, the provincial government has now shown that it is incapable of regulating based on the risk associated with a product. We know from credible public health agencies like Public Health England that vaping is at least 95 per cent less harmful than smoking. Because of that, vaping should be regulated in a different manner, one that recognizes the continuum of risk. Regulating vaping like smoking is problematic because it sends the wrong signal to adult smokers, primarily that vaping and smoking are of equivalent harm. By sending this false message to consumers, it can be expected that fewer smokers will make the switch to vaping, which is a net negative for public health, society at large, and more importantly, adults who are trying to quit cigarettes or consume nicotine in a less harmful way.

Take in store displays for example. In Alberta, cigarettes are purchased (mostly) at convenience stores where they are behind a screen so that products cannot be seen. Unfortunately, Alberta’s new regulations apply that same restriction to vaping products. Allowing for modest forms of in-store display will help prompt and inform adult smokers that reduced risk products exist, and will increase the likelihood of them making the switch. In order to encourage smokers to make the switch they have to know that these products exist, and the best way for them to acquire that information is at the point of sale where they traditionally purchase cigarettes. By placing all vaping products out of view, they will largely be out of mind for the 15.8 per cent of Albertans who currently smoke.

The same goes for the prospect of a flavour ban, which Alberta is now paving the way for with its new regulations. A ban on flavours, while done under the banner of curbing youth access and use, would hurt adult ex-smokers the most. Harm reduction research on the usage patterns of adult vapers – who were former smokers – shows that the availability of flavours is a significant factor in their decision to switch from smoking to vaping. In evaluating the purchases of over 20,000 American adults who vape, researchersconcluded that prohibiting non-tobacco flavoured vapes would significantly discourage smokers from switching.

While these arguments may seem like hypotheticals to some, figures from the UK have shown us in real time, the impact a harm reduction approach has on smoking cessation. The United Kingdom is arguably the leader in embracing vaping as a harm reduction tool and as a means to steer adults away from smoking. So much so that over1.5 million people in the UK have completely switched from smoking to vaping. In addition to that, 1.3 million people in the UK used vaping as a means to quit smoking, and no longer vape or smoke. Because of the UK’s harm reduction approach, 2.8 million British have switched away from cigarettes, or quit altogether.

These regulations are further compounded by Alberta’s misguided 20 per cent vape tax, which further discourages smokers from switching. Supporters of the tax will argue that an increase in the price of vape devices will reduce the amount of people who vape. This is true, however it also has the consequence of increasing the amount of people who smoke cigarettes.  Research from theNational Bureau of Economic Research, evaluating 35,000 retailers, showed that every 10 per cent increase in vaping price resulted in a 11 per cent increase in cigarette purchases. In terms of product sales, this means that for every vape pod not purchased, 6.2 extra packs of cigarettes were purchased instead. This is exactly the opposite of what public health officials should be encouraging via public policy.

While youth vaping is a problem – and one that needs to be addressed – it is important that the government doesn’t sacrifice adult smokers trying to switch or quit in the process. Regulating vaping like cigarettes ultimately means that more Albertans will continue to smoke, which certainly isn’t anything worth celebrating.

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

NEWSUCP brings in new law aimed at vapers and smokers

The UCP government is cracking down on smoking and vaping after consulting with more than 10,000 Albertans.

Bill 19, the Tobacco and Smoking Reduction Amendment Act, follows a review of the Tobacco and Smoking Reduction Act led by MLA Jeremy Nixon in response to the increase in vaping, smoking and tobacco use in Alberta. 

Alberta is the only province without vaping legislation.

Teen vaping rates (used in past 30 days) surged from eight per cent in 2014-15 to 22 per cent in 2016-17 and to 30 per cent in 2018-19 (Grades 10-12).

“The proposed act specifically addresses youth vaping, and would add enforceable restrictions on the possession, promotion, display, sale and use of these products, in alignment with tobacco laws. It would also include the expansion of smoke and vape-free areas, especially at places frequented by children and youth,” the government said in a release.

Albertans who smoke or vape also appear to be at higher risk of developing more severe symptoms if they contract COVID-19. The government didn’t provide any medical evidence to back up that statement.

The proposed new legislation says:

  • Minimum age for purchasing, possessing or using vaping products would align with tobacco products (18 years and older).
  • In convenience stores and gas stations, vaping displays, advertisements and promotion would need to align with tobacco restrictions.
  • Aligning places where vaping and tobacco products can not be used will reduce confusion for the public and law enforcement. New places where vaping and smoking will not be allowed include:
    • on hospital, school or child care properties
    • on playgrounds, sports or playing fields, skateboard or bicycle parks, public outdoor pools or splash pads, zoos and outdoor theatres
  • Restrictions on the locations of vaping product sales will align with tobacco restrictions, and include:
    • health facilities
    • public post-secondary institutions
    • stores where pharmacies are located
    • vending machines or temporary facilities
  • Alberta’s proposed legislation will establish the authority to consider restrictions on flavoured vape if it is not covered by potential federal legislation.

“This proposed legislation sends a strong message to youth, and anyone who thinks it is OK to supply them with vaping products – there will be fines for possession and consumption. Selling or giving these products to minors will have consequences. Reducing health harms by keeping vaping products out of the hands of youth is a priority for both me and this government, and it’s what Albertans asked us to do,” said Health Minister Tyler Shandro.

But the moves were slammed by David Clement, the North American Affairs Manager for the Consumer Choice Center.

“Alberta’s regulations are a huge step backwards from the perspective of harm reduction. Simply put, regulating vaping on par with cigarettes shows that the government is incapable of regulating based on the risk of each product,” Clement told the Western Standard.

“We know, from credible health agencies like Public Health England, that vaping is 95 per cent less harmful than smoking, which is why the rules around vaping should not be as strict as cigarettes. More importantly, regulating vaping like smoking discourages adult smokers from making the switch and quitting cigarettes, which is a net negative for public health.”

Addiction to tobacco products is the leading cause of preventable illness, disability and death in Alberta and yet the prevalence of smoking in Alberta is second highest in Canada.

Health costs for Alberta as a result of the use of tobacco products are estimated at $6 billion over the next four years.

In 2018-19, 15.6 per cent of Albertans aged 18 or older indicated they smoked cigarettes daily or occasionally.

“We thank the Alberta government and the Minister of Health for introducing legislation to help curb the youth vaping epidemic. Effective vaping legislation will be aligned with existing tobacco legislation to the greatest extent possible in order to provide maximum protection for youth. The Tobacco and Smoking Reduction Act has contributed to achieving the lowest smoking rates among adults and youth on record in Alberta,” said “Les Hagen, executive director, Action on Smoking & Health.

In October, Nixon was tasked by Shandro with reviewing Alberta’s smoking and vaping laws.

“Thank you to everyone who participated in our consultations, wrote in, or completed our survey. Your insights and solutions were truly inspiring. Bill 19 reflects the feedback we received and ensures that we are taking the right steps to protect our youth from both the known and yet-to-be-known harms of vaping,” said Nixon

In February, the government put a 20 per cent tax on vaping products.

“This legislation is long overdue and serves as an additional deterrent to limit young people’s access to harmful vaping products. School boards across Alberta welcome additional restrictions that will keep our children safer and healthier at school and in their communities,” said Lorrie Jess, president, Alberta School Boards’ Association.

According to Budget 2020, the goal of the tax is to discourage usage, especially among youth who will hopefully see the increased cost as a deterrent from either picking up or maintaining their vaping habits.

Alberta will became the fourth province in Canada to tax vaping products, along with with Nova Scotia, B.C. and Saskatchewan.

Officials have said every 10 per cent hike in the price of tobacco, researchers have noted an eight to 12 per cent decrease in use among youth.

The government expects the new tax will not only discourage youth vaping, but also net the province $4 million in 2020-21 and a total of $8 million by 2022-23.

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

In light of COVID-19, what does banning flavored vaping achieve?

The nation is focused on containing a virus of mass proportions and mitigating the disastrous economic consequences of lockdowns.

But that didn’t stop Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo from cheerily pushing his flavored vape ban in the state budget passed a few weeks ago in Albany.

This follows Cuomo’s September 2019 emergency ban on vaping flavors, excluding tobacco and menthol, later struck down by the State Supreme Court because the governor “exceeded” his authority.

Now passed by the State Legislature, the new measure prohibits the sale of tobacco and vaping products in pharmacies, bans online sales, and restricts vape shops from selling any vaping liquid but tobacco flavor.

Move over drug dealers, flavored vapes are the new hot product to sling on the streets.

At a time when New York’s hospitals are overburdened with coronavirus patients, is this really the time for a ban that effectively creates a novel black market for unregulated flavored vaping products?

Demand for flavored vapes by responsible adults, the majority of whom are former smokers trying to consume nicotine in a less harmful way, may disappear from storefronts, but it’ll easily be replaced and sourced by street dealers with a new customer base.

The governor and his allies claim the measure was necessary to prevent teen vaping and lung illnesses, but that’s false on two counts.

First, this measure punishes adult smokers who’ve found alternative products to protect kids who seek out risky products — as they’ve always done. Mind you, the state hates flavored vapes, won’t dare touch alcohol ice cream cones, and is considering legalizing cannabis in the next few months. The hypocrisy is blaring.

Shops selling vapes to kids were already breaking the law but not getting penalized. Rather than outsourcing the product to the black market — where dealers don’t ask for ID — we should implement harsher penalties on shops that sell to underage kids. Simple.

When it comes to lung illnesses caused by vaping, the CDC has repeatedly stated this was the result of illegal vape cartridges containing THC, not nicotine. This is like banning Bud Light in hopes of tackling the running of moonshine.

By banning nicotine vaping flavors, New York is inviting yet more bad actors to produce their own products, beyond the purview of regulations and safety. Could we see a new wave of lung illnesses due to these bootleg products already found on the street?

Perhaps the state would focus more on the very real pandemic it is facing rather than trying to crack down on products that responsible adult users depend on to quit smoking.

As late as February, Cuomo was lauding his anti-vaping efforts as “leading the nation in confronting this new and deadly epidemic.”

Little did he know he’d be consumed with a global pandemic of this magnitude just weeks later.

If you want to uphold public health, we must continue to fight for the legal production and sale of flavored vaping products.

Yaël Ossowski is deputy director of the Consumer Choice Center.

This article was originally published in Newsday

The Myth of the Vaping Crisis is Sparking a New War on Flavored Nicotine Products – And That Harms Consumers

Washington, D.C. – In the lull after impeachment, members of the U.S. House are pushing a bill to eradicate entire categories of flavored nicotine products.

This sweeping ban would target menthol tobacco, flavored cigars, snus, and vaping products.

Yaël Ossowski, Consumer Choice Center Deputy Director, said “The goal is to significantly reduce or eliminate youth use of these products, which is a noble pursuit. But unfortunately, the proposed bill would fall short.

“The proposed law comes in the wake of the much-hyped “vaping crisis” that transpired over the summer, in which thousands of individuals suffered lung damage from inhaling vapor products.

“In the end, the culprit was revealed to be illegal cannabis vaping cartridges loaded with Vitamin E acetate and not nicotine vaping products, according to the Centers for Disease Control,” said Ossowski.

“Despite those facts, the bill uses the debunked narrative on vaping to push a ban on unrelated items such as flavored cigars and smokeless products, and would outlaw menthol products that are used primarily in minority communities.

“This comes as both youth and adult-use of tobacco are at an all-time low. New harm-reducing technologies and education are already bringing down the use of tobacco in our country, and this bill does nothing but chase ghosts and punish responsible adult consumers,” said Ossowski.

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

Scroll to top