Harm reduction should drive all drug policy

Harm reduction-based policies are known to reduce the incidence of overdose, lower disease transmission rates and reduce the presence of organized crime, writes Heather Bone.

When the Canadian government introduced legislation to legalize cannabis, the rationale was clear: Canada would abandon a model of prohibition in order to, in the words of Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould, “protect youth from the health and safety risks of cannabis and keep those same criminals from profiting from its production, distribution and sale.” This policy was sensibly guided by a philosophy of harm reduction, which aims to reduce the dangers associated with the use of drugs, without expecting people to quit their habit. Harm reduction-based policies are known to reduce the incidence of overdose, lower disease transmission rates and reduce the presence of organized crime, which is why the approach is promoted by leading health organizations, including the Canadian Mental Health Association. However, politicians at the federal, provincial and municipal levels of government have failed to extend this approach and enact harm reduction-based policies more broadly, and at times have moved in the opposite direction completely.

Take the issue of decriminalization: Liberal party members voted overwhelmingly to support decriminalizing all drugs at their most recent policy convention in April, including hard drugs like cocaine and heroin. This policy has proven to be successful in Portugal, where the annual number of drug-related deaths declined by nearly 28 per cent between 1999 (when drugs were decriminalized) and 2006. Additionally, by treating drug use as a public health issue rather than a crime, Portugal saw HIV rates among drug users plummet by more than 50 per cent. Despite this, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reiterated his intention to maintain the status quo. As a result of this inaction, the opioid crisis will continue to take its toll on Canadian lives. According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, there were roughly 4,000 apparent opioid-related deaths in 2017 — nearly 1,000 more than the year before. Without a shift in government policy, the number of lives claimed by the opioid epidemic will continue to climb.

Safe injection sites have also been heavily politicized. These facilities provide a hygienic environment for recreational drug users to consume intravenous drugs while supervised by medical professionals. Monitoring drug users is crucial, as the Public Health Agency of Canada estimates 92 per cent of opioid-induced deaths are accidental. Studies show that safe injection sites lower overdose rates, facilitate access to treatment and lower the transmission rates of blood-borne illnesses such as HIV. A site in London, Ont., for instance, has reversed 37 overdoses and referred more than 180 people to treatment since it opened. Unfortunately, in Ontario, the PC government recently increased the red tape associated with operating a site, including subjecting the sites to random audits and increasing reporting requirements. The province capped the number of injection sites at 21 and will not allow pop-up sites to operate. Currently 19 sites are operating, which limits the potential for new locations and introduces the possibility that communities will compete against each other

To make matters worse, the two-sided nature of drug policy in Canada extends far beyond illegal drugs. The use of vaporizers, which are widely regarded as both a harm reduction mechanism and cessation aid, is increasingly under attack. Unlike traditional cigarettes, vaping devices don’t contain tobacco, or any form of combustion, which is what leads to cancer in cigarette smokers. The University of Victoria Centre for Addictions reports that vaping products only have 18 toxicants, as compared to the 79 found in cigarettes. Importantly, vape devices also deliver no tar. For this reason, Public Health England and the British Medical Association have concluded that smokers should be encouraged to make the switch to vaping because it is 95 per cent less harmful than smoking.

Despite this evidence, federal law places restrictions on how vape companies can advertise their products to smokers and bans them from correctly labelling their product as a harm reduction tool or possible aid to quitting smoking. At the provincial level, eight provinces have additional e-cigarette legislation, among which only Ontario allows product promotion. Even some municipal governments, such as the City of Halifax and Town of Port Albert, have targeted e-cigarette use with anti-vaping bylaws that treat vaping products in the same way as traditional cigarettes.

Harm reduction is a pragmatic framework, but it requires a radical change in thinking. It starts with the realistic assumption that criminalization is not an effective deterrent mechanism and rests on the belief that individuals should not be punished for crimes against their own bodies. The evidence is clear: the war on drugs has a body count, and harm reduction approaches are the solution. To reduce the harms associated with drug use, governments should apply the same logic behind cannabis legalization more widely.

Heather Bone is a research fellow at the Consumer Choice Center and an Economics PhD Student at the University of Toronto.

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About Heather Bone

Heather Bone is pursuing a doctorate in economics at the University of Toronto. Her research interests are broad, but generally relate to public policy. Right now, she is particularly focused on studying the economic functioning of cryptomarkets, including what they mean for consumer choice and how online drug markets are shaped by public policy decisions. For several years, Heather has been a dedicated advocate for consumer choice. She performed research to help advocate free trade while working in the Office of the Chief Economist in the Canadian Department of Global Affairs. She then went on to work as a legislative assistant in Ontario’s provincial government before working for the Manning Centre in Calgary, Alberta where she studied the economics of Business Improvement Areas. A list of Heather’s working papers and publications can be found on her website, heatherlynnbone.com.

UK supermarket meals could face calorie limits to combat obesity

Bill Wirtz, policy analyst for the Consumer Choice Center, said: “The intentions of PHE are understandable, but rectifying the bad nutritional habits and lack of exercise of some with outright bans for others is just blatantly unfair.”

He added: “Nobody is denying that we could all lose weight by only living on water and crispbread, but being a free society means being able to enjoy a pizza, a burger or an ice cream when you like. Educating rather than banning should be our aim.

“Ultimately it’s the government that needs to make the decisions regarding these proposed bans on food items. Even a simple execution of PHE’s recommendations would be [a] clear message that this government does not believe in informed and responsible consumers.”

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About Bill Wirtz

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

Going for a run is better than feel-good “junk food” bans

On November 23, London Mayor Sadiq Khan announced that, as of February, all advertisements for food high in fat, sugar and salt will be banned from the London tube and bus network. The measure is part of the mayor’s plan to decrease child obesity rates, but it is set to do nothing of the sort.

The city mayor has taken the example of Amsterdam, which introduced a similar ban last year, and which has seen significant reductions in childhood obesity in the past. However, associating those reductions with the metro ad ban is intellectually dishonest: for one thing, the ban only came into force in January this year, but the claims for significant reductions in childhood obesity are made for periods preceding the ban. In fact, the city of Amsterdam was already showing off with a 16 per cent reduction between 2012 and 2015. Back then, it boasted the advantages of the “Healthy Weight Campaign” by talking about raising awareness of parents, and investing into education regarding physical activity.

In October, Public Health England indicated that more than 37 percent of 10 and 11 year-olds in London are overweight or obese. It is often mistakenly argued that this is caused by high energy intake, but the obesity rates are dependent on the physical activity, which according to the Public Health England has decreased by 24 per cent since the 1960s. Daily calorie intake in the UK is also decreasing each decade.

So the problem isn’t that children eat too much, but that they move too little. When public health advocates use Amsterdam as an example, they act in bad faith.

But the advertising ban reveals more than just a disinterest in the facts, it is also a display of blatant distrust towards consumers. In essence, the message is: consumers don’t have free will, and are subjugated to advertising. Very few people will find this to be true. We see thousands of ads every year, of products that we’ll never buy. London City basically tells us that we’re mindless consumers, and not responsible individuals. If Sadiq Khan, buys his shampoos on impulse after passing Waterloo station, that’s his problem, not ours.

Advertising establishes brand recognition, and thereby consumer loyalty. There might be a lot of ads, yet the argument that it is oppressive reaches too far. Those billboards in the Tube, or at bus stations also aren’t targeted at children anyways, since most consumers using these services are adults. The city uses the iconic “think of the children” argument to ruin the fun for everyone else. A bulletproof case, since anyone who opposes the ban must be against children.

This doesn’t even mention the £25 million/year in lost ad revenue for TfL. Now that the ban also extends to river services, trams, coach stations, taxi and private hire, those losses could be even more considerable.

Meanwhile, there are actual ways of combating childhood obesity. Educators should not only focus on facilitating a workable diet – even though those are important – but also provide parents and schools with the tools to get children interested in sports. Whenever the World Cup is taking place, the number of children wanting to become football champions spikes, and so does the number of football matches popping up on playgrounds around Britain. Maintaining this sort of enthusiasm should be the goal: offering long-term sporty distractions to children is how they burn calories, and how we get those disconcerting obesity numbers down.

Banning ads in the tube is feel-good policy with no actual effects. It’s head-in-the-sand tactics of believing the problem will disappear if we get rid of advertising, when we actually know it won’t.

Let our politicians chew on that.

Originally published at https://www.europeanscientist.com/en/features/going-for-a-run-is-better-than-feel-good-junk-food-bans/

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About Bill Wirtz

Bill Wirtz is policy analyst for the Consumer Choice Center, based in Brussels, Belgium.

Originally from Luxembourg, his articles have appeared across the world in English, French, German, and Luxembourgish.

He is Editor-in-Chief of Speak Freely, the blog of European Students for Liberty, a contributing editor for the Freedom Today Network and a regular contributor for the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE).

He blogs regularly on his website in four languages.

Banning junk food ads to combat childhood obesity

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

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

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

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

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

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About Fred Roeder

Fred Roder has been working in the field of grassroots activism for over eight years. He is a Health Economist from Germany and has worked in healthcare reform and market access in North America, Europe, and several former Soviet Republics. One of his passions is to analyze how disruptive industries and technologies allow consumers more choice at a lower cost.

Fred is very interested in consumer choice and regulatory trends in the following industries: FMCG, Sharing Economy, Airlines.

In 2014 he organized a protest in Berlin advocating for competition in the Taxi market.

Fred has traveled to 100 countries and is looking forward to visiting the other half of the world’s countries.

Among many op-eds and media appearances, he has been published in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Wirtschaftswoche, Die Welt, the BBC, SunTV, ABC Portland News, Montreal Gazette, Handelsblatt, Huffington Post Germany, CityAM. L’Agefi, and The Guardian.

Since 2012 he serves as an Associated Researcher at the Montreal Economic Institute.

Eighty-Five years since prohibition, but have we learnt anything?

This Wednesday was a special day. In the Netherlands, Dutch children celebrated the coming of Sinterklaas (along with his controversial helper Zwarte Piet). Walt Disney would have celebrated his 117th birthday. It was also world soil day, apparently. But the 5th of December 2018 also marked a particularly special anniversary: the end of prohibition in the United States. Eighty-five years ago, the Twenty First Amendment to the US Constitution was ratified, officially repealing the Eighteenth Amendment banning the sale and transportation of intoxicating liquors. After thirteen years, American citizens could at last enjoy a drink, legally.

Today, prohibition is widely regarded as a colossal failure. Driven by pressure from the Temperance Movement, who saw alcohol and the drunkenness it causes as detriments to society. Alcohol was blamed for crime, disorder, and poverty. A ban on booze, it was seemingly thought, would protect drinkers from themselves, and society from their behaviour while under-the-influence.

Of course, this wasn’t the case. Rather than eradicating the American market for booze, it simply drove the import, production, and sale of drinks into the hands of bootleggers and mafiosos.

In fact, the black market for booze during the prohibition era was so vastly profitable that some have credited the ban with creating the modern mafia. The total control over the market for alcohol provided a great incentive for gangs, such as those that came with the mass immigration from Italy in the late-1900s, to transform from small-time racketeers to firm-like, hierarchical organisations.

While these gangs certainly filled a gap with their black-market liquor and speakeasies, consumers and the rest of society undoubtedly suffered. Gangs, famously, preferred to treat friendly competition with a pair of concrete shoes than a new marketing campaign. Meanwhile, those indulging in illegal booze received no protection from the state, and no guarantee of what exactly went into their drink. While gangsters made millions, everyone else had to pay the price.

So, the eighty-five year anniversary of the death of such a disastrous attempt at social engineering undoubtedly warrants celebrating (perhaps with a drink?). But have we actually learned from the experience?

Not fully. In fact, you could read through the first half of this article, replace ‘booze’ with ‘cocaine’ or ‘cannabis’, and ‘Mafia’ with ‘Cartel’, and you’d have a pretty accurate description of the ongoing war on drugs.

Just like the Americans of the 1920s who fancied a beer, someone wanting to indulge in something harder today is left fully at the whims of organised criminals, and receives no help from the state. According to the drug policy alliance, almost 1.4 million people in the US have been arrested solely on possession charges.

Moreover, consumers of drugs today often have no guarantee that what they’re taking is actually what they paid for. While cities like Amsterdam now offer anonymous testing of substances, most people have no way if they just snorted a line of coke or laundry detergent.

Meanwhile, those selling on the black market enjoy participation in a global industry worth an estimated half a trillion dollars. While cartels and drug runners line their pockets, however, the communities around them have to deal with the violence and murder that comes whenever markets become criminal.

It’s probably wise to put in a disclaimer here: I am not advocating the use of hard drugs. Rather, I am advocating to follow the path of least harm. Just as the prohibition of alcohol created the mafia, bringing with it violence, more-dangerous products, and general suffering, the war on drugs, too, has done nothing to protect users or prevent crime; quite the opposite, in fact.

Eighty-five years ago the US government learned its lesson, and took the path of least harm. In doing so, they allowed users access to help and support and deprived criminals of their monopoly. While we’re starting to make progress, as countries like Canada, Luxembourg, as well as certain US states begin to decriminalise cannabis, there’s lots more work to be done before all the suffering brought on by the war on drugs can be ended.

Originally published at https://thebroadonline.com/eighty-five-years-since-prohibition-but-have-we-learnt-anything/

Are ‘middle men’ the culprit?

ONE NEWS NOW: “One of the real hidden costs that we’ve been seeing [in drug prices] is the role that the pharmacy benefit mangers (PBMs) play,” says Jeff Stier, senior fellow at the Consumer Choice Center. “Those are the middle men who negotiate between the drug companies – the companies that innovate, that make the drugs we so badly need – and our insurance companies.”

Having such “go-betweens” may sound like a great thing to have, but following two recent mergers, Stier says all major PBMs are now part of the health insurance industry.

That causes Stier to question whether PBMs are playing a crucial role in containing medical costs for patients. “Or, are they so conflicted – because they take a share of rebates offered by pharmaceutical companies – that they are incentivized to keep prices high?” he wonders.

But to answer that, Stier says, will require more transparency through the entire supply chain to show whether consumers are, in fact, benefiting from negotiations.

“There are changes we can do to find some common ground,” he shares, “and common ground, I think, would be necessary to actually lower the price of drugs without stifling innovation.”

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About Jeff Stier

Jeff Stier is a Senior Fellow at the Consumer Choice Center.

Mr. Stier has been a frequent guest on CNBC, and has addressed health policy on CNN, Fox News Channel, MSNBC, as well as network newscasts. He is a guest on over 100 radio shows a year, including on NPR and top-rated major market shows in cities including Boston, Philadelphia, and Sacramento, plus syndicated regional broadcasts.

Jeff’s op-eds have been published in top outlets including The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Post, Forbes, The Washington Examiner, and National Review Online.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

However, two paragraphs in the ruling stand out:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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About Bill Wirtz

Bill Wirtz is policy analyst for the Consumer Choice Center, based in Brussels, Belgium.

Originally from Luxembourg, his articles have appeared across the world in English, French, German, and Luxembourgish.

He is Editor-in-Chief of Speak Freely, the blog of European Students for Liberty, a contributing editor for the Freedom Today Network and a regular contributor for the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE).

He blogs regularly on his website in four languages.

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.

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About Bill Wirtz

Bill Wirtz is policy analyst for the Consumer Choice Center, based in Brussels, Belgium.

Originally from Luxembourg, his articles have appeared across the world in English, French, German, and Luxembourgish.

He is Editor-in-Chief of Speak Freely, the blog of European Students for Liberty, a contributing editor for the Freedom Today Network and a regular contributor for the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE).

He blogs regularly on his website in four languages.

Menthol ban will make a bad situation worse

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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About Jeff Stier

Jeff Stier is a Senior Fellow at the Consumer Choice Center.

Mr. Stier has been a frequent guest on CNBC, and has addressed health policy on CNN, Fox News Channel, MSNBC, as well as network newscasts. He is a guest on over 100 radio shows a year, including on NPR and top-rated major market shows in cities including Boston, Philadelphia, and Sacramento, plus syndicated regional broadcasts.

Jeff’s op-eds have been published in top outlets including The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Post, Forbes, The Washington Examiner, and National Review Online.

FDA宣佈對電子煙銷售實施全面新規定

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

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About Jeff Stier

Jeff Stier is a Senior Fellow at the Consumer Choice Center.

Mr. Stier has been a frequent guest on CNBC, and has addressed health policy on CNN, Fox News Channel, MSNBC, as well as network newscasts. He is a guest on over 100 radio shows a year, including on NPR and top-rated major market shows in cities including Boston, Philadelphia, and Sacramento, plus syndicated regional broadcasts.

Jeff’s op-eds have been published in top outlets including The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Post, Forbes, The Washington Examiner, and National Review Online.