Harm-Reduction

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

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

In the backdrop of a very busy Congress, members of the U.S. House are pushing a bill that would eradicate entire categories of flavored nicotine products.

This sweeping ban would directly harm consumers who use menthol tobacco, flavored cigars, snus, and vaping products by outlawing the products they use and pushing them to the black market.

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, also called e-cigarette, or vaping, product use-associated lung injury (EVALI).

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.

Read the Consumer Choice Center Policy Primer: Myths and Facts on Vaping: What Policymakers Should Know

Though scientific experts correctly identified the cause of the injuries – black market THC cannabis vape cartridges – that hasn’t stopped legislators from using that pretext to introduce new prohibitions on flavored tobacco products used responsibly by adult consumers.

H.R. 2339, named the Reversing the Youth Tobacco Epidemic Act of 2019, proposes several sweeping changes to flavored consumer products and is expected to soon hit the House floor for a vote.

The bill would outlaw the following:

  • Menthol products
  • Flavored cigars and cigarillos
  • Flavored smokeless tobacco, known as snus or dip.
  • Some flavored vaping products

The goal is to significantly reduce or eliminate youth use of these products, which is a noble pursuit.

But youth smoking is at an all-time low

Fewer young people than ever are using traditional tobacco products – less than 2.3%. That’s a significant decline since the year 2000, where nearly 15% of minors smoked cigarettes, according to the CDC.

  • This represents a public health victory, and one that has been achieved with sensible education, regulation, and innovation. The same is true for adult smokers. Just 13.7% of adults currently smoke, the lowest number ever recorded.
  • The latest CDC figures show that 20.8 percent of high schoolers have vaped at least once in the last 30 days. But 7 to 8% of those were vaping cannabis rather than nicotine.
  • A total flavor ban on all tobacco products and vaping products for adults would do little to curb use among youth.
  • It may even exacerbate the problem and only punish lawful adult consumers and deprive them of their choice, not to mention devastate the communities that rely on tobacco taxes to fund important social programs.

What’s more, by categorizing non-tobacco vapor products as tobacco products, House members are attacking the very innovation that has led to the lowest-ever figure of recorded tobacco use.

Prohibition Hasn’t Worked

The 100-year anniversary of the passage of Prohibition of alcohol took place last month.

  • All these years later, we know that outlawing certain consumer products does not eradicate their existence. Rather, it moves them from the legal, regulated market to the illicit and unregulated black market.
  • This makes the products themselves less safe, and the trade around those products even more dangerous.

After an entire nation had awoken to the disaster of Prohibition, it was successfully repealed in 1933.

Minorities are more likely to use menthol products

According to the CDC, African-Americans who use tobacco are 90% more likely to favor menthol products and represent the vast majority of consumers in the flavored tobacco market.

  • A ban would create an illicit market without regulations or ID checks
  • Such bans would then force police officers to crack down on illicit menthol cigarette trade, further straining relations between the African-American community
  • As seen in the case of Eric Garner, who was choked out by a police officer and later died in New York City for selling loose cigarettes on the street, bans and restrictions that create illegal markets can lead to devastating consequences.
  • If a law bans menthol and flavored tobacco products, the demand wouldn’t disappear.

Rather, it would be pushed into the unregulated market, siphoning away tobacco taxes and incenting police officers to use their power to enforce laws in minority communities.

Age-restriction by law is a powerful means of dissuading youth use

By penalizing convenience retailers that sell to minors, regulators have already created a significant barrier to youth access.

  • This allows law enforcement to prosecute bad actors and focus their efforts on illicit markets where dealers don’t ask for ID.
  • Recently, Congress’ raising of the age to purchase tobacco and vaping products to 21 years old also dissuades youth use, ensuring no high schooler will be able to legally purchase these products.
  • Nearly half of tobacco and vape shops don’t ID young customers.

Enforcing existing laws on youth access, including prosecuting shops that don’t check ID, are a powerful means of keeping youth away from tobacco products.

Bans Deny the Science on Harm Reduction by Vaping and Smokeless Products

For many adult smokers looking to quit, vaping products have been proven key to harm reduction.

  • About 4.4% of adults, nearly 11 million, are now using vaping devices
  • National health bodies around the world, including Public Health England, the New Zealand Ministry of Health, and Health Canada have endorsed vaping as a smoking cessation method.
  • The U.K.’s top health body has repeatedly said that vaping and e-cigarettes are 95 percent less harmful than smoking.
  • Bans that include flavored vaping products would deprive adult smokers of a less harmful method of consuming nicotine

We all have an interest in eliminating the number of young people who take up smoking. But counterintuitive bans would make that goal harder, not easier to achieve.

And depriving adult consumers of harm reducing technologies like flavored vaping products will reserve the decades of public health successes.

Let’s hope our members of Congress consider these facts before they vote on H.R. 2339.

Download the full policy note here.

Yes, The FDA Is In Trouble, But The New York Times’ Prescription Would Make It Worse

The FDA’s failures are a result of too much regulatory dithering and bureaucracy. Yet the Times’ prescriptions for change would just increase the dose.

Yes, The FDA Is In Trouble, But The New York Times’ Prescription Would Make It Worse

A recent New York Times editorial about the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reflects a systematic weakness at the once-venerable Gray Lady: The members of the editorial board often rely on sloganeering and popular wisdom instead of substantive evidence.

The editorial was headlined, “The FDA Is in Trouble. Here’s How to Fix It.” The agency is in trouble. But it’s due to the very kinds of “fixes” the Times recommends.

The FDA is highly bureaucratic and risk averse, leading to a slow and expensive drug approval process—at last count, more than $2.5 billion to bring a new drug to market. Yet the armchair quarterbacks at the Times want to slow it down even more and increase the cost and risks of innovating.

Supposedly, too many drugs are being approved “with too little data on how safe or effective they are,” according to the editorial. More specifically, regulators have supposedly made “compromises” by accepting “surrogate evidence” of efficacy.

In fact, there are good reasons that the clinical testing of new drugs can be accomplished with fewer and smaller trials. We are entering the era of precision, or personalized, medicine, the mantra of which is “the right dose of the right drug for the right patient at the right time.”

It reflects that treatments are gradually shifting from a relatively imprecise one-size-fits-all approach to a more personalized one, so patients can be matched to the best therapy based on their genetic makeup, the specific characteristics of their illness, and other predictive factors. This enables doctors to avoid prescribing a medication that is unlikely to be effective or that might cause serious side effects in certain patients.

How Smaller Trials Can Be More Accurate

The editorial ignores that those factors make possible drug testing in smaller, better-targeted populations. That is not a completely new concept. Under appropriate circumstances, the FDA has long used fewer and smaller clinical trials as the basis for approval.

What makes that possible is that medical research is increasingly discovering biological indicators, or “biomarkers”—such as variants of DNA sequences, the levels of certain enzymes, or the presence or absence of drug receptors—that can dictate how patients should be treated and to predict the likelihood that the intervention will be effective or elicit dangerous side effects.

Using biomarkers enables drug companies to better select patient populations for clinical trials to demonstrate efficacy. The reason is related to the statistical power of clinical studies: In any kind of experiment, a fundamental principle is that the greater the number of subjects or iterations, the greater the confidence in the results. Conversely, small studies generally have large uncertainties about results—and that is where biomarkers can make a difference.

By better defining the experimental groups, such as limiting the trial only to patients with a certain mutation in their genome or tumor, they can help drugmakers design clinical studies that will show “a high relative treatment difference” between the drug and whatever it is being compared to (often a placebo, but sometimes another treatment).

For example, a 2018 study of patients with certain rare pancreatic or gastrointestinal cancers found that analyzing the “protein-signaling networks” in the tumors could identify regulators of tumor survival. The researchers were then able to test the effect of various drugs on these regulators. That enabled them to predict in many patients which drugs would be effective in the tumors—the kind of precision oncology that makes possible smaller clinical trials.

Whiffing on Needed Critiques of the FDA

The Times editorial faulted the FDA for “its roles in the opioid epidemic (regulators allowed too many opioids on the market without properly flagging them as addictive or deadly),” but, in fact, the regulators did ensure that the drugs were safe and effective when used according to the labels, which do, in fact, warn about addiction potential. Analogously, can the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives be blamed for many Americans suffering from alcoholism?

Criticizing the FDA for its handling of e-cigarettes is easy. But the Times editorial even got that wrong, echoing the calls of prohibitionists to ban the sale of these products to adult smokers, rather than aggressively enforcing the existing ban on sales to minors.

The Times could have landed a powerful science-based critique of the agency for perpetuating the activist-created myth that nicotine e-cigarettes had anything to do with the past year’s lung disease outbreak, which was caused by adulterated THC oils, not nicotine vapes. By incorrectly blaming e-cigarettes for the illnesses, the FDA’s misinformation prevented countless adult smokers from switching to a truly less harmful alternative. The Times failed to hold the agency accountable for not telling the truth when it mattered most.

The Times editorial accuses the agency of having become “too susceptible to outside pressure,” which most FDA-watchers find to be groundless. If FDA has favored any special interests, they are “progressive” ones, including the organic food industry, which has systematically violated regulations concerning “absence claims” on labels (such as “GMO free”), and by acceding to the demands of “public health advocates” who reject harm reduction policies toward e-cigarettes. The remedy for such failings is better, smarter management.

The FDA Needs a Diet, Not More Money

The Times editorial claims the FDA “has too few resources and too little power to fulfill its key responsibilities.” The facts argue otherwise. According to the Congressional Research Service:

Between FY2015 and FY2019, FDA’s enacted total program level increased from $4.507 billion to $5.725 billion. Over this time period, congressionally appropriated funding increased by 21%, and user fee revenue increased by 35%. The Administration’s FY2020 budget request was for a total program level of $5.981 billion, an increase of $256 million (+4%) over the FY2019 enacted amount ($5.725 billion).

More important than the raw numbers is how FDA’s resources are being used. The agency has become extremely top-heavy, with ever more boxes appearing at the top of the organizational chart, even though the vast majority of day-to-day oversight and regulatory actions are taken at the level of FDA’s various “centers”—the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, Center for Food Safety and Nutrition, and so on. The FDA needs to be put on a diet, not to have additional “resources.”

The Times editorial endorsed a recent proposal to convert FDA from a component of the Department of Health and Human Services to an independent agency. That would be a prescription for disaster. Political meddling with the agency’s decisions has been extremely rare in recent years, and the genuine calamities in which the FDA has been involved have been self-inflicted wounds that might have been avoided with more, not less, accountability and oversight.

Three distinguished former federal officials presented in the journal Health Affairs compelling procedural arguments against making FDA an independent agency. As an independent agency, they said, FDA would not be bound by the policies of the Department of Justice, potentially leading to inconsistent positions being taken by different parts of the government on issues that could include foreign policy.

Furthermore, they point out, applying a consistent approach to rulemaking as required by working within Health and Human Services and Office of Management and Budget strictures is a useful check on highly expensive or wrong-headed regulation. “It’s also a way that Congress and the president can ensure consistency across government in the application of expertise in regulatory policy,” they wrote.

The FDA’s failures are a result of too much regulatory dithering and bureaucracy. Yet the Times’ prescriptions for change would just increase the dose.

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

E-Zigarette: Dem süßen Dampf eine Chance geben

E-Zigaretten und „Heat-not-burn“-Produkte erlauben weniger schädliche Wege Nikotin zu konsumieren, geraten allerdings zunehmend unter politischen Druck. Von unserem Gastautor Bill Wirtz.

Sie sehen aus wie USB-Sticks oder Feuerzeugasbehälter, riechen oft süß und stoßen manchmal große weiße Wolken aus. Viele Ex-Raucher machten den Sprung weg vom Glimmstängel zu E-Zigaretten. Dieses dampfende Produkt profitiert von motivierten Befürwortern und leidet unter uninformierten Politikern. Die Frage im Vordergrund bleibt, ob diese Alternative besser für Raucher ist.

Die Aussage, dass E-Zigaretten 95% weniger gesundheitsschädlich als konventionelle Zigaretten sind, stammt nicht aus einer Werbung von den Produzenten selbst, sondern von Public Health England (PHE). PHE ist Teil des britischen Gesundheitsministeriums und beschäftigt sich täglich mit den Gesundheitsfolgen von Konsumgütern.

Neuere Ergebnisse, die in den Annals of Internal Medicine veröffentlicht wurden, zeigen, dass langfristige E-Zigaretten-Nutzer, umgangssprachlich auch gerne Dampfer genannt, einen zwanzigmal niedrigeren Wert an krebserregenden Bestandteilen aufweisen. Dampfer zeigen auch viel niedrigere Werte für weitere tabakspezifische Giftstoffe, die zwei bis fünfmal unter denen der konventioneller Raucher liegen. Wer als Raucher Angst vor den möglichen Risiken einer Zigarette hat, kann E-Zigaretten-Flüssigkeiten (“e-liquids”) kaufen die lediglich Nikotin enthalten.

Doch wissenschaftliche Fakten schaffen es nicht immer in die öffentliche und politische Debatte. Für viele Gesundheitsaktivisten ist klar, dass auch bei diesen risikomindernden Produkten ein starkes Zeichen gesetzt werden muss. Resultat: Obwohl E-Zigaretten gänzlich andere Produkte sind, werden sie zunehmend wie Tabak reguliert. Der Kabinettschef des EU-Gesundheitskommissars Vytenis Andriukaitis, meint die Regulierung für E-Zigaretten in der Europäischen Union sollte gleich sein, wie die gewöhnlichen Tabaks. Er sagt dazu:

„Wir werden mit Fragen über gesündere Möglichkeiten etwas in die Lunge zu inhalieren bombardiert. Eine fremde Substanz in die Lunge zu bekommen, ist einfach nicht gesund.“

Oft wird bei Menge und Einnahmemedium kein Unterschied gemacht. So fallen ironischerweise auch die tabakfreien elektronischen Zigaretten unter die EU Tabakdirektive.

Bei der UN Welttabakkonferenz, die letztes Jahr in Genf stattfand, wurden E-Zigaretten explizit nicht als Alternative gepriesen. Ganz im Gegenteil, Anne Bucher, EU-Generaldirektorin für Gesundheit, sagte dort ebenfalls, dass es keinen Unterschied zwischen E-Zigaretten und konventionellen Zigaretten gibt.

Aus dem Nanny State Index on Nicotine des Institute of Economic Affairs geht hervor, dass Schweden, Großbritannien, Tschechien, Deutschland und die Niederlande die liberalste Politik gegenüber E-Zigaretten betreiben. Die Schweiz hingegen schneidet sehr schlecht ab, vor allem durch das Verbot gegen nikotinhaltige E-Zigaretten. Der Verkauf ist nicht erlaubt – importiert werden dürfen nur 150 ml alle 60 Tage. Norwegen wird diese Produkte demnächst erlauben (die Gesetzgebung ist hier bereits in Arbeit) und damit wird die Schweiz das einzige europäische Land sein, das ein komplettes Verbot pflegt.

Natürlich kann man sagen, dass man am Besten einfach ganz mit dem Rauchen aufhört. Doch komplette Abstinenz ist für viele Raucher einfach nicht möglich. Entweder weil sie es nicht wollen, oder weil die Aufgabe von Nikotin zu schwierig ist. Sogar in extremen Situationen, wie die erzwungene Einstellung des Rauchens im Gefängnis, zeigt sich, dass Inhaftierte auch nach mehreren Monaten in Haft, in der Freiheit wieder mit dem Rauchen anfangen. Wenn man „einfach aufhören“ könnte, würde die Empfehlung einen Arzt zur Rauchentwöhnung zu befragen (so wie es heute auf vielen Zigarettenschachteln steht), nicht sonderlich viel Sinn ergeben. Wir wissen inzwischen ebenfalls, dass das “vaping” bei der Rauchentwöhnung besser abschneidet als konventionelle Methoden wie z.B. Nikotin-Pflaster.

Wer nikotinhaltige E-Zigaretten verbietet, muss damit rechnen, dass Raucher wieder auf die normale Zigarette umsteigen. Und das kann ja nicht das Ziel moderner Gesundheitspolitik sein. Verbote von E-Zigaretten führen dazu, dass viele Verbraucher sich wieder dem altbewährten Glimmstängel zuwenden. Gerade Großbritannien zeigt, dass eine liberale Dampfpolitik die klassische Zigarette besser abgewöhnt. Zwischen 2011 und 2017 ist die Raucherzahl in Großbritannien von 19,8% auf 14,9% gesunken. Gleichzeitig stieg die Zahl der E-Zigaretten Nutzer: Fast die Hälfte dieser Verbraucher nutzen E-Zigaretten als Mittel zur Rauchentwöhnung.

Der Markt bietet Rauchern nun eine Alternative, die bezahlbar und angenehm ist und zudem noch weitaus geringere Risiken mit sich bringt. Anstatt alles zu tun, um diese Alternative mit Überregulierung zu überschütten, sollte die Politik Verbrauchern erlauben Zugang zu diesen innovativen Nikotinprodukten zu haben.

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

Trump’s Vape Pod Flavor Ban is Just Another New Year’s Hangover

Trump’s Vape Pod Flavor Ban is Just Another New Year’s Hangover


Washington, D.C. – As millions of Americans awoke on New Year’s Day, we learned the Trump Administration and the FDA will soon present a ban on all flavors except tobacco and menthol in pod-based vaping devices.

Though the ban is not as sweeping as first rumored, it will still deprive millions of adults of the harm-reducing flavors they have enjoyed to switch away from using cigarettes.

Yaël Ossowski, deputy director of the D.C.-based Consumer Choice Center, said a ban of this magnitude is still bad public policy, and deprives adults of more options for harm reduction.

“To be clear, the new policy is less egregious than a blanket ban or a ban on the open systems favored by advanced vapers. But it still denies the science on harm reduction and the reality of using flavors to convince adults to switch to less harmful methods of consuming nicotine,” said Ossowski.

“Pod-based devices are popular among former smokers because they’re portable, easy to maintain, and provide just the right amount of nicotine and taste to keep them away from normal combustible cigarettes. Flavors are instrumental to that equation.

“The debate on flavors has been framed by the radical tobacco control groups who need a new enemy. It’s unfortunate that vaping, which has been proven to be 95% less harmful than smoking, will now become less available to the people who need it the most.

“The facts are on the side of those who champion harm reduction and consumer choice. And in this case, because of the myths peddled by well-funded tobacco control groups, an innovative technology that has saved and will save millions of people has been demonized.

“We have a system in our country to age-prohibit certain goods like alcohol and tobacco. Rather than taking away options from adult consumers, we should investigate why kids are getting their hands on their devices and pods in the first place, and concentrate resources there instead of resorting to outright bans.

“It’s more a question of enforcement than a question of whether flavors should exist at all.

“Yet more prohibitions will only embolden sellers and dealers on the black market, who were the main culprits in the much-hyped vaping “crisis” of last year, and unlike traditional retailers and vape shops, don’t ask for ID.

“We need to continue fighting for effective harm reduction, and that won’t end here,” said Ossowski.

Check out the CCC’s Top Myths and Facts on Vaping here.

CONTACT:
Yaël Ossowski
Deputy Director
Consumer Choice Center
[email protected]

###

The Consumer Choice Center is the consumer advocacy group supporting lifestyle freedom, innovation, privacy, science, and consumer choice. 

We represent consumers in over 100 countries across the globe and 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.

Vaping ban in Alberta would harm public health

Alberta should rise above the vaping hysteria and follow harm reduction principles when developing regulations on e-cigarettes.

There’s a panic brewing about the use of e-cigarettes following reports by the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that hundreds vapers in the US have contracted severe lung injuries, with a handful of fatalities. Politicians responded quickly to the reports, and several states moved forward with vaping regulations. These ranged from bans on flavoured vaping products in New York to a four month ban on all vaping products in Massachusetts. However, a later report by the CDC in November revealed that none of the recent patients with lung injuries had used conventional nicotine vapes, but instead used black-market THC products – many in states where marijuana is illegal. 

Unfortunately, various Canadian provinces have put further vaping regulations on the agenda. Nova Scotia has banned all flavoured e-cigarettes and vaping juice as of April 1st, and Ontario is considering a similar ban. So far, it looks like Alberta is headed down a similar path. Health Minister Tyler Shandro has committed to developing regulations on vaping products as part of a review of the province’s tobacco and smoking laws, with the hope that any amendments will be in place by spring 2020. It would be misguided for Alberta to follow the bad policies that have been proposed and implemented in the US, in Canada, and abroad.

If our goal is to save lives, it is important to compare the harms caused by vaping products with their closest substitute: cigarettes. Acomprehensive report by Public Health England suggests that while e-cigarettes are not risk-free, they are comparatively much safer than traditional cigarettes. While it is nicotine that causes cigarette addiction, it is the thousands of other chemicals contained in cigarettes that causes almost all of the harm. E-cigarette vapour does not contain tar or carbon monoxide, which are two of the most harmful components of tobacco smoke. While e-cigarette vapour does contain some of the chemicals also found in tobacco smoke, they are present at much lower levels. Additionally, Public Health England reports that in a recent study, cancer potencies of e-cigarettes were under 0.5 per cent of the risk of smoking. For these reasons, Public Health England’sadvice on vaping remains unchanged: “There is no situation where it would be better for your health to continue smoking rather than switching completely to vaping”.

This is especially important considering that most people who use e-cigarettes are current or former smokers. Arecent survey administered by Statistics Canada found that among people who had used e-cigarettes in the past 30 days, 65 per cent were current smokers and 20 per cent were former smokers. If vaping products were banned or regulated in a way that made them difficult to access, it is reasonable to suggest that these people would increase their use of traditional cigarettes. For this reason, stock prices of cigarette manufacturers jumped when India announced they would enact a vape ban. This response is in large part because there is evidence that e-cigarettescan be used as a cessation mechanism. Restricting access to e-cigarettes may be in effect taking away a tool that helps people quit smoking.

Even if e-cigarettes were as dangerous as their critics say, there is no reason to believe that restricting access to them would be good public policy. One of the main lessons from the war on drugs is that if there is demand for a product, it will be sold regardless of its legal status. Banning flavoured e-liquids or significantly limiting access will only create an unregulated black market for the product, exacerbating any existing safety concerns. E-cigarette users will no longer be able to have confidence in the safety of their products. 

In fact, the very hospitalizations that inspired the recent panic over vaping products are a testament to the dangers of drug prohibition. In November, the CDC linked the hospitalizations to vitamin E acetate, which is not found in legal e-cigarettes. However, it is often used by drug dealers to cut THC vape cartridges in an attempt to increase their profits. These products are illicit and thus unregulated in the United States. In Canada, THC vaping products were only just legalized, and nothing legally for sale in Canada contains vitamin E acetate. If vaping products are banned, we should only expect more harmful additives in an unregulated black market. 

Despite the facts, political responses to the CDC’s report have been anything but measured, and it would be misguided for Alberta to follow suit. Moving to ban flavoured e-liquids, or even worse, e-cigarettes in general, is a trigger-happy response that flies in the face of existing evidence about vaping as a harm reduction tool. Blanket bans on vaping are bad public policy and bad science, and will only serve to harm millions of vapers and harm public health. Alberta should rise above the vaping hysteria and follow harm reduction principles when developing regulations on e-cigarettes. 


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

Vaping is a more effective smoke reduction tool than government policies

Middle schoolers, high schoolers, and university students have increased their use of e-cigarettes, despite rising public concern. While underage nicotine consumption and smoking-related lung disease deaths are a real problem, legal vaping products, and accurate consumer information can combat instead of worsen these effects. We should welcome the presence of alternatives to tobacco, and endorse safe, and legal options.

At the beginning, there were the strange cigarette look-alikes that light up as you took a drag. Now, the e-cigarette market has expanded to include safer alternatives, ranging from popular Juul products to vapes the size of a pistol grip. In Europe, the so-called “heat-not-burn” also constitutes a new type of vape, by heating up the tobacco instead of burning it, thus avoiding the more unhealthy effects of tobacco combustion. The idea that these alternatives are a good thing will raise eyebrows for many, and rightfully so. If you’ve followed the health scare surrounding vaping, you’d think that the mere thought of encouraging e-cigarettes is problematic.

While no potentially harmful product should ever be encouraged, we should recognize its harm-reducing effects. The UK’s Department of Health and Social Care, Public Health England, assessed in 2015–confirmed since then–that vaping is at least 95% less harmful than smoking conventional cigarettes. Between 2011 and 2017, the number of smokers in the UK fell from 19.8% to 14.9%. At the same time, the number of e-cigarette users rose: almost half of these consumers use e-cigarettes as a means of quitting smoking. The UK is an example that shows how a permissive vaping policy is better at helping those who want to quit smoking.

On the other hand, the US Food and Drug Administration, as well as most European nations, have released serious public health warnings regarding vaping. A recent spike in vaping-related lung illnesses has made officials afraid of the rise of e-cigarettes. Symptoms of those affected by recent illnesses include trouble breathing, chest pain, fatigue, and vomiting. About half the patients are teenagers or young adults.

Here is where giving the full picture is important.

The two main ingredients used in vape liquids, propylene glycol (PG) and vegetable glycerin (VG), are used to form their vapor and add flavor. Added to these two ingredients is a third, usually a common food flavoring found in cakes, oils, and other food items. All of these compounds are common food ingredients that are deemed healthy and safe by regulatory bodies including the FDA. Other variable ingredients include the stimulant alkaloid nicotine. Although not all vape liquids contain nicotine, the addictive chemical is the main draw for smokers that want to quit smoking. Compared to other alternatives, like the Nicotine Replacement Therapy patches and drugs, vaping has been found to be more effective.

On Dec. 6, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) released a report which uncovered that none of the patients affected in recent cases had used conventional nicotine vapes. Most of the affected consumers had used black-market THC products—many in states that have not legalized marijuana. In most of these terrible cases of vaping-related lung disease, Vitamin E has been found in these moonshine liquids. Vitamin E is very harmful when inhaled.

In Europe, more countries are approaching the issue from a different direction. Portugal’s Directorate-General for Health released a statement saying users should refrain from modifying their e-cigarette liquids or add any substances that aren’t legally marketed and labeled. That is certainly a more consumer information-based approach than the state of Michigan, which decided to ban flavored vaping outright (at least as a temporary measure).

If we want to combat deaths arising from black market products, we have to embrace safe legal products. A legal and regulated market is the best method for rooting out bad products and actors. A ban on flavored liquids will only drive those who wish to use flavored vaping products to the black market, or back to cigarettes. Recent studies have shown that if vaping products are outlawed, current vapors are more likely to return to smoking. That would be very consequential for public health.

A lot of myth-busting needs to be done on the issue of e-cigarettes. More than that, however, let’s just consider what harm-reducing products have actually done. The government has tried for decades to get people to stop smoking. In order to do that, it has utilized paternalistic policies, like taxation, restrictions on packaging and sales, which have all been shown to be ineffective. All reduction in cigarette sales has been offset by a spike in black market sales. In this shadow economy, consumers are being misled, and people get hurt.

We need to encourage the marketing and branding of safe and legal vaping products. Consumer information is necessary in order to crowd out dangerous black market products.

Vaping has achieved what decades of government policies couldn’t–gave consumers a viable alternative. This type of innovation should be celebrated, not reprimanded.

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

Therapeutic CBD oil doesn’t belong under restrictive Cannabis Act

The federal election is behind us, and all Canadians are probably pretty thankful for that.

That said, in what was arguably Canada’s most irritating, and cynical, election, no one spoke about Canada’s cannabis market. The opposition parties did not take aim at the Liberals for their mistakes, nor did the Liberals really use legalization as a talking point on their legislative success. Now that we have a minority government, it is important that this new government enacts change to make Canada’s cannabis market more open and consumer-friendly.

Much has been said regarding the issues with excise taxes, the federal government’s overly paternalistic marketing and packaging rules, and burdensome production regulations that have handcuffed producers. All of these missteps have hurt the attractiveness of the legal market, and that only benefits those who are selling cannabis illegally.

One mistake made in the Cannabis Act that hasn’t gotten any coverage is the federal government’s failure to differentiate appropriately between THC and CBD.

For those who don’t know, CBD (cannabidiol) is one of the over 100 cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. On its own, it has a variety of medicinal and wellness uses. CBD can be used for pain in patients with disorders such as fibromyalgia and can be used to prevent seizures for people who suffer from neurological disorders such as epilepsy. It can also be used to treat common issues such as joint pain, inflammation, and act as a sleep aid. Most importantly, CBD is not an intoxicating substance like THC.

Because CBD products are not intoxicating, and have a significantly lower risk profile, they shouldn’t be treated the same as cannabis products with THC. All that would be required to right this wrong would be to remove non-intoxicating CBD products from the Cannabis Act altogether.

Quite simply, any CBD product with a THC concentration of less than 0.3 per cent (the U.S. legal standard) should be treated as a natural health product, and exempt from the rules and regulations of the Cannabis Act.

Removing CBD products from the Cannabis Act would have several immediate benefits for consumers. The first is that it would exempt CBD products from the overly heavy-handed marketing, branding and plain packaging restrictions set out in the Cannabis Act. Having cannabis regulated in the same way as tobacco was a huge mistake, given the differences in risks between products. Regulating cannabis like tobacco was a mistake, but treating CBD products like tobacco is downright comical.

Beyond the chance to peel back federal paternalism, the removal of CBD products from the Cannabis Act would allow for products to brand their desired impact, something that is currently, and irritatingly, illegal for all cannabis products. The current prohibitions are a huge disservice to consumers because they prevent them from being presented with more product information when making purchases. Public policy should encourage informed consumer decisions, not actively prevent them. Removing CBD from the Cannabis Act would allow for these products to free themselves from the silliness of the act’s marketing regulations, which will serve to empower consumers.

In addition to giving consumers more information through appropriate marketing and branding, removing CBD from the act would significantly increase consumer access. As it currently stands, non-intoxicating CBD products are only available via outlets that are licensed to sell cannabis.

This is problematic because for many consumers, the rollout of storefronts has been horrendous, with the government-run online alternatives taking days to deliver product. Removing CBD from the act would, overnight, allow for these products to be sold alongside other natural health products. It would also allow for products to become available in cities and towns that made the misguided decision to ban cannabis retail within their boundaries, as in Ontario. Increasing points of sale for CBD products would increase consumer access, which could help steer people away from the black market alternatives that currently exist.

Whether in co-operation with Andrew Scheer’s Conservatives, or Jagmeet Singh’s NDP, Trudeau needs to make changes to CBD regulations. Removing CBD from the act would be simple, and would actually be in line with concessions Health Canada has already made.

When the new regulations were announced for edibles, extracts and topicals, Health Canada explained that the excise tax would only be applied based on THC level, which means that CBD topicals, edibles or extracts wouldn’t come with any excise tax whatsoever. Removing CBD from the act would be a straightforward and consistent continuation of that regulatory correction. Most importantly, it would be a correction that would benefit consumers nationwide.

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

PHE: E-Dampfen sicherer als Rauchen

Bremerhaven: Jugendliche panschen Liquids // Medienhysterie: mehr Menschen rauchen

Aufgrund der Medienhysterie zu den Atemwegserkrankung durch gepanschte, illegale Liquids in den USA ist die Sorge groß, dass so etwas u. U. auch in Deutschland passieren könnte. In Bremerhaven sind nun tatsächlich mehrer Jugendliche in ein Krankenhaus eingeliefert worden aufgrund des Konsums von gepanschten Liquids. In den Liquids wurden verbotene Zusatzstoffe gefunden wie Schmerzmittel und syntethische Cannabioide. Es sind auch zwei Tatverdächtige ermittelt worden, welche die Liquids illegalerweise gepanscht haben sollen.

Als Verbraucherverein weisen wir wiederholt darauf hin, keinerlei Zusatzstoffe oder dubiose Substanzen in Liquids zu mischen welche nicht dafür gedacht sind! Dies kann gesundheitsgefährdende Auswirkungen haben! Zitat: “Dumm ist der, der Dummes tut!”. Der Consumer Choice Center spricht sich dagegen aus, dass dieser Fall des Drogen-/Substanzmissbrauch nicht der E-Dampfe zugeschoben werden kann.

Die mittlerweile monatelang anherrschende Hysterie in den Medien, sowie einiger Anti-Raucher-Anti-Dampfer-NGOs haben ihre Wirkung nicht verfehlt: der Händlerverband BfTG spricht von erheblichen Umsatzeinbussen. Grund: die Kunden sind durch die irreführende Berichterstattung verunsichert und viele greifen daraufhin wieder zur schädlichen Tabakzigarette. Somit haben die Medien eine Mitschuld daran, dass viele Raucher den Umstieg auf die E-Dampfe nicht schaffen bzw. viele Dampfer wieder zur alten Gewohnheit zurückkehren.

Die englische Gesundheitsbehörde, Public Health England, stellt nochmals ganz deutlich klar, dass es keinerlei Zusammenhang zwischen Atemwegserkrankungen in den USA und des Dampfens regulierter Liquids gibt. Die Rückkehr vom Dampfen zum Rauchen ist die schlechteste Entscheidung.

Originally published here.


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


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

The CCC represents consumers in over 100 countries across the globe. We closely monitor regulatory trends in Ottawa, Washington, Brussels, Geneva and other hotspots of regulation and inform and activate consumers to fight for #ConsumerChoice. Learn more at 
consumerchoicecenter.org

$1.1 billion worth of cannabis sold in Canada’s first year of legalization

One year after the legalization of recreational cannabis, Cannabis Benchmarks, a company that tracks cannabis prices, estimates that Canadian licensed producers have sold approximately 1.1 billion dollars worth of pot in the past 12 months, the equivalent to 105,000 kilograms—enough to fill almost two rail freight cars.

According to Statistics Canada, licensed retail outlets sold more than $100 million worth of pot in July, the fifth straight month that sales hit an all-time high.

However, some industry analysts believe those numbers would be much higher if not for the many stumbling blocks the industry has encountered in the first year of legalization. They cite several problems, ranging from non-compliant packaging to the failure of some producers to increase cultivation capacity in time to meet demand. But according to many analysts, the number one problem has been the regulators.

An article published by the Motley Fool, a financial services company, said federal regulators were not prepared to handle legalization of recreational cannabis. Health Canada had more than 800 cultivation, processing, and sales applications when the year started, but took several months or more to review them, the article stated. That “kept cultivators, processors, and retailers waiting in the wings to meet [consumer] demand.”

“There are many risks involved in overseeing cannabis and Health Canada tries to manage risk,” Alanna Sokic, a senior consultant for Global Public Affairs, told Leafly.  “The industry runs at breakneck speed and government does not.”

“Canadian licensed producers have sold approximately $1.1 billion worth of cannabis in the past 12 months, the equivalent to 105,000 kilograms—enough to fill almost two rail freight cars.”

Cannabis Benchmarks

Sales figures should be higher

Analysts have criticized some provinces for being slow to approve retail licenses. In Ontario and Quebec, for example, there are so few brick-and-mortar stores that many consumers are faced with the prospect of buying cannabis online—an unappealing option for the many consumers who want to see and smell their product before buying it legally—or getting it on the illicit market.

Many of them have chosen the latter route. The amount of legal cannabis Canadians have purchased in the past year (105,000 kilos) represents just 11.4% of the total amount they are thought to consume annually.

Canada’s most populous province has completely botched the rollout of the cannabis retail market according to analysts. After Doug Ford became premier of Ontario in June 2018, he announced that his government would award cannabis retail licenses through a lottery system. Two lotteries have been held so far.

This system has been fraught with problems, including inexperienced winners and concerns that some of them have sold their licenses on the illicit market.

“If you needed a brain surgeon, would you pick one through a lottery? Cannabis retail is best left to those who are knowledgeable and reliable,” BCMI Cannabis Report author Chris Damas told Leafly.

There are also indications the lottery system has been gamed by big players. A physical address was required for each entry. In the second lottery, in August, the average number of entries per each winning address was 24. One address was entered into the lottery 173 times. Each entry cost $75.

The amount of legal cannabis Canadians have purchased in the past year (105,000 kilos) represents just 11.4% of the total amount they are thought to consume annually.

Some of the applicants are so unhappy with the system they have taken their case to court. Eleven of them won the right to apply for a retail license through the second lottery but were later disqualified for not providing required documents by the regulator’s deadline. They responded by asking the court for a judicial review. The province’s plan to hold another lottery was suspended until Sept. 27, when the court dismissed the applicants’ request.

There are now just 24 retail outlets in a province that has a population of more than 14 million. “Ontario could support a thousand stores—and that’s a conservative estimate,” Damas told Leafly. “The provincial government blew it. If Ontario was punching at the weight it should be, Canadian sales numbers would be much higher.”

The Ford government attributes the slow rollout of retail to supply issues at the federal level. They say stores might go out of business if they open while there is limited cannabis supply. But as David Clement of the Consumer Choice Center stated in The Globe and Mail, the province doesn’t have the same approach when it comes to granting alcohol licenses for restaurants, bars, or clubs even though there is a high failure rate (60%) for these businesses.

Also, all the provinces are dealing with the same supply issues, yet some have done a much better job of establishing a cannabis retail market. For example, there are more than 300 retail outlets in Alberta, even though the province’s population is just 4.3 million—less than a third the size of Ontario’s population. Alberta outlets sold $124 million dollars’ worth of cannabis in the first eight months of legalization while Ontario outlets sold $121 million.

They key to Alberta’s success is its comparatively free-market regime, say analysts. The province’s regulatory body is the sole distributor of recreational cannabis just as it is in Ontario. However, in Alberta, anyone can apply for a license to open up a retail location. The opening of retail outlets is driven by market demand.

‘Gong show’ will get sorted out

“Sales numbers are what can be expected when some provinces (in the Prairies) embrace a free-market model and others don’t,” Damas said. “It has been a fiasco in certain provinces,” he said, referring to Ontario as well as Quebec, which has 22 stores and a population of eight million.

But Damas and other analysts are optimistic about the future of cannabis retail in Canada. Economist Trevor Tombe at the University of Calgary said in a tweet that “the gong show” in Ontario will get sorted out. Indeed, the province just announced it was launching consultations aimed at getting the private sector more involved in cannabis storage and delivery.

“Sales numbers are what can be expected when some provinces (in the Prairies) embrace a free-market model and others don’t.”

Chris Damas, BCMI Cannabis Report author

“If you look across Canada you will see a patchwork of regulation. Some provinces are performing much better than others because they have prioritized access,” Sokic told Leafly. “In the past year, some lessons have been learned. Provinces who haven’t prioritized market access are considering it so that they can accomplish their objectives. I think the future looks bright.”

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.

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