fbpx

Open Letter

Coalition Warns Against Broadband Proposals

The Consumer Choice Center joined a coalition of consumer and tax advocacy organizations flagging concerning developments in the infrastructure bill negotiations. Price controls and rate regulation; dramatic expansion of executive brand and agency authority; and government-controlled internet should never be on the table.

You can read the letter below or click HERE for a full version:

July 23, 2021

RE: Broadband Infrastructure Spending

Dear Senators:

We write to you today over some concerning developments in the bipartisan infrastructure negotiations on broadband. We are guided by the principles of limited government and believe that the flaws in the infrastructure framework go well beyond the issues discussed here. Nonetheless, our present aim is to advocate specifically against proposals that would enact price controls, dramatically expand agency authority, and prioritize government-controlled internet. 

The infrastructure plan should not include rate regulation of broadband services. Congress should not authorize any federal or governmental body to set the price of any broadband offering. Even steps that open the door to rate regulation of broadband services will prove harmful in the long run.  

Nor should Congress continue to abdicate its oversight responsibilities to executive branch agencies like the National Telecommunications and Information Administration. Giving NTIA unchecked authority to modify or waive requirements, renders all guardrails placed by Congress meaningless. There must be oversight of the programs to ensure that taxpayer dollars go toward connecting more Americans to broadband as opposed to wasteful pet projects. 

Historically, attempts by NTIA to close the digital divide through discretionary grants have failed, leading to wasteful overbuilds, corruption, and improper expenditures. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 created the $4 billion Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) grant program administered by NTIA. From 2009, when BTOP was instituted, to 2017, at least one-third of all the reports made by the Inspector General for the Department of Commerce were related to the BTOP program, and census data showed that the BTOP program had no positive effect on broadband adoption. And this was with only $4 billion in taxpayer dollars. We cannot afford to make the same mistake with much greater sums.

Legislation must be clear and not create ambiguities that are left to the whims of regulators. While “digital redlining” is unacceptable, the FCC should not be allowed to define the term however it sees fit and promulgate any regulations it thinks will solve problems—real or imagined. Doing so would give the agency carte blanche to regulate and micromanage broadband in any way it desires. This would be an egregious expansion of FCC authority. Moreover, definitions and regulations could change whenever party control of the agency changes, leading to a back-and-forth that creates uncertainty for consumers and businesses. 

Legitimate desire to ensure that low-income Americans have access to broadband infrastructure should not be used as a smokescreen to codify aspects of the recent Executive Order on Competition, which should not be included in any bipartisan infrastructure agreement. Republicans fought hard to support the FCC’s Restoring Internet Freedom Order. Any legislating on the functions and deployment of Internet technologies must move as a standalone bill through regular order with committee review. These questions are far too important to shoehorn into a massive bill without rigorous debate.   

Any funding for broadband buildout must target locations without any broadband connection first, and this should be determined by the Congressionally mandated FCC broadband maps. Congress has oversight over the FCC and the FCC has already conducted several reverse auctions. Reverse auctions get the most out of each taxpayer dollar towards closing the digital divide. Areas where there is already a commitment from a carrier to build out a network, should not be considered for grants, and the NTIA should not be able to override the FCC’s map to redefine “unserved” and subsidize duplicative builds.  

Government-controlled Internet should not be prioritized in any grant program. With few exceptions, government-owned networks (GONs) have been abject failures. For example, KentuckyWired is a 3,000-mile GON that was sold to taxpayers as a $350 million project that would be complete by spring of 2016. Those projections could not have been more wrong.   More than five years past the supposed completion date, fiber construction for KentuckyWired is still “in progress” in some parts of the state and a report from the state auditor has concluded that taxpayers will end up wasting a whopping $1.5 billion on this redundant “government owned network” over its 30-year life. NTIA should certainly not encourage these failures to be replicated.

We appreciate your work to help close the digital divide and agree that access to reliable internet is a priority, however we should not use this need to serve as a cover for unnecessary government expansion. Please feel free to reach out to any of the undersigned organizations or individuals should you have questions or comments. 

Regards,

Grover G. Norquist
President
Americans for Tax Reform

Jennifer Huddleston*
Director of Technology & Innovation Policy
American Action Forum

Phil Kerpen
President
American Commitment

Krisztina Pusok, Ph. D.
Director
American Consumer Institute
Center for Citizen Research

Brent Wm. Gardner
Chief Government Affairs Officer
Americans for Prosperity

Jeffrey Mazzella
President
Center for Individual Freedom

Andrew F. Quinlan
President
Center for Freedom and Prosperity

Jessica Melugin
Director Center for Technology and Innovation
Competitive Enterprise Institute

Matthew Kandrach
President
Consumer Action for a Strong Economy

Yaël Ossowski
Deputy Director
Consumer Choice Center

Roslyn Layton, PhD
Founder
China Tech Threat

Ashley Baker
Director of Public Policy
The Committee for Justice

Tom Schatz
President
Council for Citizens Against Government Waste

Katie McAuliffe
Executive Director
Digital Liberty

Annette Thompson Meeks
CEO
Freedom Foundation of Minnesota

Adam Brandon
President
FreedomWorks

George Landrith
President
Frontiers of Freedom

Garrett Bess
Vice President
Heritage Action for America

Carrie Lukas
President
Independent Women’s Forum

Heather Higgins
CEO
Independent Women’s Voice

Tom Giovanetti
President
Institute for Policy Innovation

Ted Bolema
Executive Director
Institute for the Study of Economic Growth

Seton Motley
President
Less Government

Zach Graves
Head of Policy
Lincoln Network

Matthew Gagnon
Chief Executive Officer
Maine Policy Institute

Matthew Nicaud
Tech Policy Specialist
Mississippi Center for Public Policy

Brandon Arnold
Executive Vice President
National Taxpayers Union

Tom Hebert
Executive Director
Open Competition Center

Ellen Weaver
President & CEO
Palmetto Promise Institute

Eric Peterson
Director
Pelican Center for Technology and Innovation

Lorenzo Montanari
Executive Director
Property Rights Alliance

Jeffrey Westling
Resident Fellow, Technology & Innovation Policy
R Street Institute

James L. Martin
Founder/Chairman
60 Plus Association

Saulius “Saul” Anuzis
President
60 Plus Association

David Williams
President
Taxpayers Protection Alliance

Dann Mead Smith
President
Washington Policy enter

Mark Harmsworth
Small Business Director
Washington Policy Center

Consumer Choice Center Joins Coalition Urging PMTA Enforcement Extension

The Honorable Janet Woodcock
Acting Commissioner
U.S. Food and Drug Administration
10903 New Hampshire Avenue
Silver Spring, Maryland 20993

June 30, 2021

Dear Acting Commissioner Woodcock:

On behalf of millions of taxpayers and consumers across the United States, we, the undersigned 23 organizations, believe that, in the interests of public health, adult access to safe e-cigarette products must be maintained in order to reduce cigarette consumption nationwide and save millions of lives.

A substantial body of scientific evidence suggests these products save lives by reducing the use of traditional combustible tobacco products. Pulling e-cigarettes and other vapor products from shelves will harm consumers and small businesses. Therefore, we urge you to pursue a court-ordered extension to allow vaping products to remain available to adult consumers while undergoing their premarket review, as requested by the Small Business Administration (SBA) Office of Advocacy on June 7.

While we recognize the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has promised to exercise discretion in enforcement action, this does not provide the degree of certainty necessary for businesses who have complied with all relevant regulations and have not received authorization due to processing delays by the FDA. If an extension is not granted, there could be devastating consequences for businesses, particularly small businesses. Furthermore, any potential reduction in the supply of safe alternatives to tobacco could have a negative impact on public health across the United States and lead to an increase in tobacco-related mortality.

The FDA requires manufacturers and importers of electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS), also known as e-cigarettes or vapor products, to submit a premarket tobacco product application (PMTA). The application must demonstrate to the agency, among other things, that the marketing of the e-cigarette or vapor product would be appropriate for the protection of the public health. Applications for products on the market were due September 9, 2020, with enforcement to commence against unauthorized products from September 9, 2021. Manufacturers have submitted millions of official PMTA applications. However, due to the significantly higher than expected volume of applications, it is highly likely that the FDA will be unable to process all applications prior to the deadline.

In addition, the FDA has withdrawn the final rule published January 19, 2021, which declared that each product must be “appropriate for the protection of the public health” in light of the risks and benefits of the product to the general population. As a result, there is no final rule in place governing the PMTA process and therefore it is possible that a significant number of products may be removed from the market following the deadline. Millions of consumers who depend on ENDS products for their health and thousands of businesses who depend on these products for their livelihood are threatened by this needless bureaucratic uncertainty. The only sure why to avert a disastrous outcome is for the FDA to obtain a court order allowing it to extend the existing moratorium on enforcement by another year.

Should the FDA choose not to do so, we encourage you, in lieu of case-by-case enforcement, to publicly declare that the agency will not enforce the removal of any products that have submitted a timely PMTA application while such application is still under review. This compromise solution would be an effective, equitable, and simple way to provide certainty to the millions of consumers and thousands of sellers of ENDS products.

The PMTA timeline has been changed before. Further delay is appropriate and consistent with regulatory precedent. Last April, a federal judge concurred with the FDA and allowed the PMTA deadline to be modified. A significant motivation behind this extension was the FDA’s expectation that they would receive thousands of PMTA applications and would be unable to fully process all of them by the previous deadline. The agency has received more than 6 million applications, with each application containing thousands to millions of different supporting documents, ensuring that there is a near-zero chance of all PMTA applications being processed on time. The FDA itself has agreed with this assessment. Mitch Zeller, Director of the Center for Tobacco Products, has said publicly that PMTA applications are being reviewed in order of market-share, with the most popular products being reviewed first. Maintaining the September 9, 2021, deadline could disproportionally affect small businesses and impact tens of thousands of jobs.

The vaping industry, unlike many others, was created by small businesses, and these same small businesses continue to drive innovation in the market. As noted in SBA’s letter:

“Small businesses drive the American economy, with approximately 99.9 percent of all firms being classified as small. The vaping industry is a perfect example of that statistic. Small businesses created the industry and have been the drivers of the industry’s major innovations. While the Census Bureau’s Statistics of U.S. Businesses does not report data specifically on the vaping industry, the data show that well over 90 percent of tobacco stores (NAICS 453991) are small. According to industry sources, there are approximately 14,000 ENDS firms located across the country, and there are over 20,000 establishments listed under ‘Vape Shops & Electronic Cigarettes’ in the Yellow Pages.”

Without these entrepreneurs, the vape industry will be consolidated into a few large corporations, causing prices to rise and consumer choice to decrease.

The science on ENDS is clear. Vaping is at least 95% less harmful than traditional combustible cigarettes and is the most effective available method of smoking cessation, more than twice as effective as traditional nicotine replacement therapies like patches or gum. This is why vaping has been endorsed by more than 60 of the world’s leading public health organizations as safer than smoking and an effective way to help smokers quit.

When e-cigarettes entered the market in 2003, the U.S. adult cigarette smoking rate was 21.6%. Due in no small part to increased access to vaping, the U.S. adult smoking rate has plummeted to 13.7% as of 2018. A large-scale analysis from Georgetown University Medical Center estimates that 6.6 million American lives would be saved if a majority of cigarette smokers made the switch to vaping. Furthermore, the analysis finds, increased vaping use among cigarette smokers would “reduce health disparities,” since smoking rates are highest among those with lower income and education, and this reduction would “translate directly into lower medical costs” and “an improved quality of life.”

For these reasons, we strongly urge you to follow the recommendation of the Small Businesses Administration and pursue a court-ordered extension as soon as possible to modify the current September 9, 2021, PMTA deadline. Tens of thousands of jobs and millions of American lives depend upon it.

Sincerely,
 

Grover Norquist
President
Americans for Tax Reform

Christopher G. Sheeron
President
Action for Health

Marty Connors
Chair
Alabama Center-Right Coalition

Krisztina Pusok
Director
American Consumer Institute

Amanda Wheeler
President
American Vapor Manufacturers Association

Brent Wm. Gardner
Chief Government Affairs Officer
Americans for Prosperity

Ryan Ellis
President
Center for a Free Economy

Andrew F. Quinlan
President
Center for Freedom & Prosperity
 

Yael Ossowski
Deputy Director
Consumer Choice Center


Tom Schatz
President
Council of Citizens Against Government Waste

James Taylor
President
The Heartland Institute

Mario H. Lopez
President
Hispanic Leadership Fund

Julie Gunlock
Director, Center for Progress and Innovation
Independent Women’s Forum

Seton Motley
President
Less Government

Kim “Skip” Murray
Specialist
Minnesota Smoke-Free Alliance

Douglas Carswell
President & CEO
Mississippi Center for Public Policy

Tim Jones
Fmr. Speaker, Missouri House
Missouri Center-Right Coalition

Stefan Didik
Executive Board Member
Neighborhood Business Alliance

Lorenzo Montanari
Executive Director
Property Rights Alliance

Paul Gessing
President
Rio Grande Foundation

David Morris
Vice President
Smoke-Free Alternatives Trade Alliance

Lindsey Stroud
Director, Consumer Center
Taxpayers Protection Alliance

Casey Given
Executive Director
Young Voices

The full letter can be downloaded HERE

California’s AB 286 is a hidden tax on consumers and small businesses. The legislature should vote NO

Our coalition of community organizations, minority-owned businesses, small businesses,
taxpayer advocates restaurants, merchants and app-based drivers strongly oppose Assembly
Bill 286. While AB 286 purports to help restaurants and merchants, the bill will result in
increased costs to consumers, reduced business and revenues for restaurants, and fewer
income-earning opportunities for drivers.

AB 286 is a hidden tax on consumers and small businesses and would hurt the very restaurants
it is intended to protect.

App-based delivery platforms connect restaurants, customers, and drivers. Fees are carefully
balanced to reflect the mutual benefits to each party: fees on restaurants help pay for marketing,
payment and insurance for drivers, customer service, and other services that help restaurants
gain customers and grow business. Fees on customers reflect the convenience and value of the
delivery service while also ensuring fair payment to drivers.

AB 286 would arbitrarily and permanently cap fees paid by restaurants and will force prices to
rise on consumers in order to ensure adequate revenues to provide app-based delivery
services. For instance, a 15% cap on a typical $20 food order is $3. That $3 is insufficient to
pay for the driver, insurance, marketing, credit card processing fees, customer support,
technology, and costs of operating the platform.

Because of this, in communities that have passed these arbitrary fee caps, consumer prices
have increased to compensate and ensure that app-based delivery remains viable. In cities that
have implemented these arbitrary fee caps, consumer costs have immediately gone up by $2-3
per order.

Higher prices are proven to reduce demand by as much as 30%, taking away customers and
business from restaurants that are struggling to stay afloat during these challenging times. AB
286 will be particularly harmful to small independent restaurants trying to compete with larger
chains that have their own marketing and even delivery services. Furthermore, while AB 286
purports to help restaurants struggling with the pandemic, it is permanent in nature and won’t
even go into effect until 2022.

And the higher prices also harm drivers working with app-based platforms, as reduced demand
for services means fewer work opportunities for drivers, less income for drivers and reduced
sales tax revenues for municipalities.

Finally, AB 286 is unnecessary. California recently passed legislation (AB 2149) that requires
app-based platforms to enter into a contract with every restaurant and merchant they list on
their app. As a result, every restaurant or merchant that utilizes app-based delivery services
has voluntarily entered into an agreement with full transparency into the terms, fees, and
benefits of partnering with these platforms.

We strongly urge you to vote No on AB 286. It hurts restaurants, customers, and app-based
drivers.

Sincerely,

Lily Rocha, President, Latino Restaurant Association
Julian Canete, President & CEO, California Hispanic Chambers of Commerce
Pat Fong Kushida, President & CEO, CalAsian Chamber of Commerce
Rev. KW Tulloss, President, Baptist Ministers’ Conference of Los Angeles and Southern California
Matt Regan, Senior Vice President, Bay Area Council
Cindy Roth, President & CEO, Greater Riverside Chambers of Commerce
Reuben Franco, President & CEO, Orange County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
Elise Swanson, Chair, South Bay Association of Chambers of Commerce
Jessica Lall, President & CEO, Central City Association – Los Angeles
Yaël Ossowski, Deputy Director, Consumer Choice Center
Heidi L. Gallegos, President & CEO, Brea Chamber of Commerce
Leah Vukmir, VP of State Affairs, National Taxpayers Union
Moises Merino, President, Latino Leadership & Policy Forum
Ruben Guerra, President and Chair, Latin Business Association

Rev. Jonathan E. Moseley, Western Regional Director, National Action Network – Los Angeles
David Cruz, President, League of United Latin American Citizens Council 3288
Jay King, President & CEO, California Black Chamber of Commerce
Faith Bautista, CEO, National Diversity Coalition
Stuart Waldman, President, Valley Industry & Commerce Association (VICA)
Marc Ang, Founder/President, Asian Industry B2B
Peter Leroe-Muñoz, General Counsel, SVP, Tech & Innovation, Silicon Valley Leadership Group
Thomas Hudson, President, California Taxpayers Protection Committee
Adam Ruiz, Chair, Southwest California Legislative Council
Faith Bautista, President & CEO, National Asian American Coalition
Brandon M. Black, Director of Public Policy, Sacramento Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce
Thomas Hudson, President, Placer County Taxpayers Association
Dominik Knoll, CEO, Redondo Beach Chamber of Commerce
Cindy Spindle, CEO, Garden Grove Chamber of Commerce

PDF LINK HERE

Coalition Letter in Support of Mileage-Based User Fees for US Highway Funding

Dear Member of Congress,

As Congress considers surface transportation reauthorization, its top priority should be restoring the longstanding users-pay/users-benefit principle for highway funding. Further increasing the reliance of the Highway Trust Fund on revenue streams untethered from use, as well as general fund bailouts, would not only fail to address the core fiscal challenges of the present, it would threaten the future health of America’s highways.

Congress should closely examine lessons learned in the numerous ongoing state road usage charge pilot programs and build any future federal trials upon those findings, including ensuring that all forms of surface transportation are covered, including heavy trucks and passenger vehicles. A federal road usage charge trial should be nationwide in scope and done in cooperation with the states, building on best practices developed across the states, and should focus on replacing fuel taxes.

When Congress passed the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956, which created the modern Interstate Highway System, this was coupled with the Highway Revenue Act. The Revenue Act established the Highway Trust Fund, which authorized the Treasury to collect taxes on producers and importers of fuel, who then pass most of that tax burden on to road users.

Set at a per-gallon rate, the rationale for the taxes was to link highway use with highway infrastructure investment. Prior to the creation of the Highway Trust Fund, federal-aid highways were funded out of general revenues and drivers did not bear the costs of the infrastructure they used. In addition, all federal taxpayers—even those who did not drive—were thereby forced to pay for highways.

Adhering to the users-pay/users-benefit principle is superior to general revenue funding for a number of reasons:

  1. Fairness: Highway users benefit from the improvements their user fees generate.
  2. Proportionality: Users who drive more pay more.
  3. Self-limiting: The imposition of a fee under which proceeds may only be used for the specified purpose imposes a de-facto limit on how high that fee can be.
  4. Funding Predictability: Highway use and therefore highway user revenues do not fluctuate wildly in the short-run.
  5. Signaling Investment: Because revenue roughly tracks use, the mechanism provides policy makers with an important signal as to how much infrastructure investment is needed to maintain a desired level of efficiency.

Congress should also make clear what the users-pay/users-benefit principle is not intended to do:

  1. Road usage charges should replace fuel taxes, not supplement them.
  2. Road use charges are not a tax, but a user fee.
  3. Any users-pay/users-benefit program is not intended to force behavioral change, nor should the program have any environmental or social goals beyond the adequate funding of the Trust Fund.
  4. User fees are not a surveillance program and best practices being developed at the state level ensure that users’ data are protected from misuse.
  5. User fees are not intended to force rural drivers to pay more, any more than fuel taxes punish rural drivers who tend to drive longer distances in less fuel-efficient vehicles.

For these reasons, we urge you to prioritize protecting and strengthening the users-pay principle in the 2021 surface transportation reauthorization and support the development of a nationwide, interoperable road usage charge trial.

Sincerely,

Iain Murray
Vice President for Strategy
Competitive Enterprise Institute

The Honorable Andrew H. Card, Jr.
Former White House Chief of Staff, United States Secretary of Transportation

Douglas Holtz-Eakin
President
American Action Forum*
*Affiliation for identification purposes only

Hon. Samuel K. Skinner
Former United States Secretary of Transportation

James L. Martin
Founder/Chairman
60 Plus Association

Saulius “Saul” Anuzis
President
60 Plus Association

Steve Pociask
President / CEO
American Consumer Institute

Ike Brannon
President
Capital Policy Analytics

Andrew F. Quinlan
President
Center for Freedom and Prosperity

Matthew Kandrach
President
Consumer Action for a Strong Economy

Yaël Ossowski
Deputy Director
Consumer Choice Center

Ian Adams
Executive Director
International Center for Law & Economics

Brandon Arnold
Executive Vice President
National Taxpayers Union

Adrian Moore, Ph.D.
Vice President of Policy
Reason Foundation*
Former Commissioner, National Surface Transportation Infrastructure Financing Commission
*Affiliation for identification purposes.

David Williams
President
Taxpayers Protection Alliance

Roslyn Layton, PhD
Aalborg University
Senior Contributor, Forbes

Tom Giovanetti
President
Institute for Policy Innovation

FULL PDF

Consumer Choice Center joins group pushing back on breaking up U.S. tech companies

On January 21, the first full day of President Joe Biden’s administration, the Consumer Choice Center joined a coalition of taxpayer and consumer groups in calling on members of Congress to avoid using antitrust to break up tech firms.

Dear Leader McConnell, Leader McCarthy, and Republican Members of Congress:

On behalf of the undersigned organizations, representing taxpayers, consumers, and free market advocates across the nation, we write in strong opposition to proposals from across the ideological spectrum to change substantive antitrust standards that encourage courts to break up and destroy American technology companies. While we sometimes are concerned with the actions of these companies, as long-time supporters of free markets and free expression, we are troubled to see that some fellow conservatives would try to use the sledgehammer of big government to attack companies they may disagree with on a political or ideological basis.

This is a divisive period in our nation’s history, and with the democratization of news and information many policymakers are asking tough questions about the role technology plays in modern society. Congress may decide to legislate in the near future on matters like online consumer protection, data privacy, content moderation, and more. Regardless of what bills lawmakers introduce in the coming months — or what regulations or lawsuits are introduced by a new administration — our organizations firmly believe that the courts, not Congress, should determine whether America’s most successful companies have violated the antitrust laws. Congress should not change substantive laws to address political or ideological concerns about the companies in question. This is also the wrong message to send to entrepreneurs who are actively working to provide Americans with competitive alternatives to today’s household names.

In the past, conservatives and free market advocates agreed that the powers of the federal government are too great, and the societal and economic benefits of emerging technologies too strong, for true advocates of limited government to support politically-motivated efforts to tear apart successful firms simply because they’re big or for any number of other arbitrary reasons. These companies provide valuable services to hundreds of millions of American and global consumers. That assumption has now been challenged by recent “conservative” calls to “demand the breakup” of major technology companies. As policymakers face a White House and Congress controlled by one party for the next two years, it is imperative to avoid setting a precedent that companies who do not abide by the norms and rules of the governing party find themselves in the crosshairs of vindictive punishment down the road.

Therefore, it is worth reiterating to our allies in Congress and our colleagues throughout civil society: antitrust enforcement should never be used as a political or ideological tool. Instead, antitrust regulators and lawmakers should adhere to the prudent, decades-old consumer welfare standard, which has long been a ‘north star’ for antitrust enforcement and that — when properly applied — allows free-market economies to innovate and thrive.

Thank you for your consideration, and should you like to discuss these matters further we are at your disposal.

Sincerely,

National Taxpayers Union

Taxpayers Protection Alliance

ALEC Action

American Consumer Institute

Americans for Prosperity

Center for Freedom and Prosperity

Competitive Enterprise Institute

Consumer Choice Center

FreedomWorks

Libertas Institute

Lone Star Policy Institute

Market Institute

NetChoice

R Street Institute

Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council

TechFreedom

Proposed ban on all vape flavours

To whom it may concern,

On behalf of the Consumer Choice Center, a global consumer advocacy group representing millions of consumers in Europe and globally, I am writing to express our great concern at the proposed ban on all vape flavours. We need policies that are science-based and enhance consumer choice instead of hurting adult consumers and undermining their ability to choose for themselves. 

The Netherlands has always been one of the few islands of liberalism, an exemplar of rational openness to innovation. In the Netherlands, 3.1% of adults use e-cigarettes, and with the ban in place, nearly 260,000 Dutch vapers might return to smoking. Both short-term and long-term, that is too high of a price to pay, especially in light of our shared European efforts to reduce cancer rates.

In order to see why the proposed vape ban would be a disastrous move that the Dutch government should avoid. 

First, vaping was invented as a harm reduction tool aimed at adult smokers to help them switch to a safer alternative and conversely reduce health-associated risks.

Vaping has been proven to be 95% less harmful than smoking and has been endorsed by the UK, New Zealand, and Australia government bodies as a safer alternative.

As demonstrated by Public Health England, vaping is 95% less harmful than tobacco cigarettes. Prof. Peter Hajek stated “My reading of the evidence is that smokers who switch to vaping remove almost all the risks smoking poses to their health”. Prof. McNeill et al., E-cigarettes around 95% less harmful than tobacco estimates landmark review, 2015

Second, allowing smokers to experiment with vape flavours is a key part of cessation through vaping.  Two-thirds of current vapers are using some form of flavoured liquids. Vapers prefer non-tobacco flavours over tobacco flavoured e-cigarettes, mainly because flavours don’t remind them of the taste of cigarettes. 

A nationally representative longitudinal study of over 17,000 Americans, over a five year period, showed that adults who used flavoured vaping products were more likely to quit smoking cigarettes when compared to vapers who consumed tobacco flavoured vaping products. When comparing the two groups, those who use flavours and those who use tobacco flavours, vapers that used flavours were 2.3 times more likely to quit smoking than those vaping tobacco flavoured products.

According to research on vapers in Canada and the U.S, a majority of vapers use non-tobacco flavoured vape products as their personal preference. Consumers generally prefer flavours over tobacco flavoured vaping products because of their taste, but also because tobacco flavours remind consumers of conventional cigarettes. Of those surveyed, who are considered regular users, 63.1% use non-tobacco flavoured products (fruit, mint, candy). These adults found vaping more satisfying (compared with smoking) than vapers using tobacco flavour. 

In our latest paper Vaping as a gateway out of smoking, we have debunked the most spread myths related to vaping, including youth vaping and nicotine addiction. After reviewing an extensive number of studies on the topic, we at the Consumer Choice Center are of the opinion that banning vape flavours would not only be a violation of consumer choice but, above all, a scientifically ignorant policy. The Dutch government can do better than such proposals and continue a long tradition of freedom on the continent instead of resorting to unjustified paternalism.

Adult smokers should have a choice to switch to a safer alternative that has proved to be an effective cessation tool, and vape flavours are instrumental in making those efforts a success. We need to embrace vaping to reduce health-associated risks such as cancer. For smokers, and for future generations.

Kind regards,

Maria Chaplia
Research Manager 
Consumer Choice Center

Open Letter on EU Airlines

Dear Director-General Mr. Hololei,

On behalf of the Consumer Choice Center, the consumer advocacy group representing and empowering consumers in the EU and globally, we would like to express our deep concerns about the Commission’s intention to extend the waiver of the “use-it-or-loseit” rule for the entire 2020-2021 winter season. In our view, such a move would be extremely protectionist, distortive, and would do more harm than good.

The overwhelming uncertainty around the second wave of coronavirus, travel restrictions, and a significant drop in demand are some of the crucial issues the aviation industry has faced. It is therefore in the interest of consumers, airports, and the industry itself to arrive at a mutually satisfactory solution. What we need in these times is to encourage more connectivity and not less. Extending the waiver will likely keep flight connections and destinations way below the pre-COVID times. Now might be the right time for new entrants into the market to connect people across Europe and the world.

The current waiver of the requirement to fly 80% of granted slots or lose them is set to expire on October 24th. Multiple associations have called on the Commission to extend the waiver “to ensure that the flying of empty planes is avoided” so that “flights are operated in the most sustainable
way possible.” However, the extension would create the situation in which the biggest airlines will get a chance to monopolise the slots making it impossible for the smaller ones to enter. This explains why low-cost airlines such as Wizz Air oppose the extension of the waiver calling it anti-competitive and such that “would hinder rather than help the recovery of the EU aviation industry and, therefore, European economies.”

Airport slots are scarce, and that is why they are so valuable and have to be put to the most efficient use. Though pursued out of noble motives, the Commission’s waiver policy implies that the airlines are the sole owner of the slots.

The airport slot ownership shouldn’t be static. On the contrary, it should constantly rotate between airlines to guarantee the most efficient allocation of the facilities and to encourage responsible use of airports. The “use-it-or leave-it” rule is, in this sense, fair and just, and should be sustained at all
times.

Flying has changed our lives in many ways. Now that consumers all across Europe have got a taste of life without travelling, they would want to fly more not less once the pandemic is over. The European Commission should focus on ensuring that they have a chance to choose between multiple airlines keeping in mind their budget constraint. In order to achieve this,
both big and low cost companies have to be treated equally and compete for airport slots.

It is still not too late to preserve competition and consumer choice. With that in mind, the Consumer Choice Center calls on the Commission to reconsider formalising the extension for the entire 2020-2021 winter season. On our end, we would be keen to elaborate further on our
view and help the Commission find the most optimal solution.

Scroll to top