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Press Release

New survey shows MEPs know worryingly little about vaping

According to the findings of the new ECigIntelligence survey, 57 per cent of Members of the European Parliament have no knowledge of vaping (with 16 per cent not even being aware of its existence).

Given that European politicians are now determining Europe’s approach to vaping, these results are extremely worrying.

ECigIntelligence surveyed Members of the European Parliament (MEP) for the second time (the last survey was in 2020). The results show that many MEPs continue to be misinformed or uninformed about vaping and other less harmful smoking alternatives.

Maria Chaplia, Research Manager of the Consumer Choice Center, commented on the survey: 

“Currently, 140 million people in the European Union still smoke, and most of them struggle to quit. It is key that European policymakers have sufficient knowledge of life-saving alternatives such as vaping and their potential to tackle this problem. The low awareness signals an increased risk of making the wrong decisions that could cost Europe lives of current and future smokers. The MEPs should take these issues more seriously and open their minds to a growing plethora of studies on vaping.”

Key findings of the survey: 

  • More than a third of MEPs have no knowledge of any new nicotine product (vaping, heat not burn, pouches), and over one in ten are not even aware of them.
  • Incredibly, 28% believe that vaping is as harmful or more harmful than smoking, and a further 18% don’t know at all.
  • Also, 16% incorrectly believe that vaping is likely to lead non-smokers to smoking cigarettes. 
  • On flavours, the worrying trend from last year continues. 53% are in favour of regulating flavours the same or even more than cigarettes.

“The World Health Organisation’s misguided recommendations against vaping have skewed the discourse against evidence-based policymaking in Europe and across the world. Vaping is 95 per cent less harmful than smoking. Vape flavours help smokers quit once and for all, and nicotine is not our enemy. It is crucial that the stigma around vaping ends before it is too late,” concluded Chaplia.

New paper slams the nicotine stigma

Today, the Consumer Choice Center and the World Vapers’ Alliance published a new paper on the war on nicotine, arguing that there are evidence-based reasons to end it in Europe and globally.

Vaping and other alternatives such as nicotine pouches have been recognised as far less harmful than smoking, and yet their lifesaving qualities continuously come under fire for a variety of reasons. The consumption of nicotine is one of them.

The Consumer Choice Center’s paper examines six main reasons why the war on nicotine is unreasonable, ineffective and ignorant of a growing body of evidence.

Six main reasons why the war on nicotine should end:

  1. People consume nicotine, but they die from smoking  
  2. Nicotine in patches & gums is not a problem — it is neither when vaped nor in a pouch
  3. Addiction is complex and not solved by a war on nicotine
  4. Nicotine makes some people smarter, stronger and more attractive
  5. Misconceptions about nicotine are hindering public health progress 
  6. Prohibition never works

Nicotine is not your enemy

Commenting on the findings, Michael Landl, Director of the World Vapers’ Alliance and a co-author of the paper, said: “The anti-vaping discourse is riddled with double standards about nicotine. If we are to be consistent about nicotine, we have to treat vaping with the same openness and encouragement as nicotine replacement therapy, such as patches. Due to innovation nicotine consumption can finally be decoupled from the hazardous effects of smoking and therefore help millions of smokers to improve their health. And yet, nicotine is unjustifiably demonised. This must end.

Reducing the number of smokers and allowing them to rapidly and efficiently switch to a less harmful alternative should be a major priority for governments and public health agencies worldwide. To achieve that, the stigma around nicotine should stop. 

“We aim to use our new paper as a factsheet to debunk many myths that surround nicotine prohibition. Potential benefits of nicotine must be explored, and unbiased scientific endeavours must be ensured,” said Maria Chaplia, Research Manager at the Consumer Choice Center.

Ottawa Should Axe The Sin Tax On Non-Alcoholic Beer

Consumer demand for non-alcoholic beer is surging in Canada, but Canada oddly maintains it’s “sin tax” on non-alcoholic beer at a rate of $2.82/hectolitre.

The Consumer Choice Center’s Toronto based North American Affairs Manager David Clement called on the Federal Government to remove the excise tax stating “The first problem with the excise tax for non-alcoholic beer is that non-alcoholic wine and spirits are exempt from the tax. For some reason, the federal government doesn’t treat all non-alcoholic beverages equally. Removing the excise tax for non-alcoholic beer would simply apply the government’s own logic consistently.”

“Removing the tax on non-alcoholic beer would help reduce costs for health-conscious consumers, giving them better access to reduced-risk products. It would also very likely help expand the domestic production of these beverages, given that Canada is unique in its excise treatment of non-alcoholic beer,” said Clement.

“Exempting non-alcoholic beer from the federal excise tax would be consistent with the principles of harm reduction, a policy approach the Trudeau government has championed. When regulating and taxing products that could present some risk to consumers, it is important that legislators evaluate what that risk actually is. For non-alcoholic beer it is near zero, which is why it is not appropriate for the government to treat it the same as beer. The main justification for taxes on beverage alcohol is to help cover any alcohol-related health-care costs that might arise. But what is the alcohol-related health-care burden of non-alcoholic beer? There isn’t any, which is why it should be exempt,” said Clement.

Consumer Choice Center Praises Rep. Nancy Mace’s Smart Cannabis Legalization Bill

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Consumer Choice Center Praises Rep. Nancy Mace’s Smart Cannabis Legalization Bill

Washington, D.C. – On Monday, U.S. Rep. Nancy Mace (R-SC) unveiled the first comprehensive federal cannabis decriminalization and legalization bill by a Republican member of Congress.

The Consumer Choice Center, a global consumer advocacy group that advocates for smart cannabis policies, praises Rep. Mace’s bill as a significant first step in ending the war on cannabis and providing a consumer-friendly model for sales and distribution to spur entrepreneurship. They join the coalition of the Cannabis Freedom Alliance in endorsing the bill.

“The Consumer Choice Center applauds Rep. Mace’s effort to provide Americans with a smart, safe, and consumer-friendly path to legal cannabis,” said Yaël Ossowski, deputy director at the Consumer Choice Center. “A focus on establishing legal and safe markets will benefit all of society by finally eliminating the black market, restoring justice, and giving the incentive for creative entrepreneurs to enter the marketplace. It is past time America had smart cannabis policies.”

The bill text will be introduced by the end of the day on Monday.

“For too long, lives and resources have been wasted in the failed War on Drugs. By calling on federal lawmakers to legalize recreational cannabis, Rep. Mace is taking the next practical step to save lives and improve our communities,” said David Clement, North American Affairs Manager at the Consumer Choice Center.

“The benefits of legalization have already paid out massive dividends to the people in Colorado, California, Michigan, Oregon, and more, via tax revenues and also by reversing the harsh criminalization that has had a disproportionate impact on low-income and minority communities. Now is the opportunity to make it national,” said Clement.

“We must ensure that the federal government embraces smart cannabis policy, one that encourages competition, entrepreneurship, avoids red tape and eradicates the black market to spur a new revolution in entrepreneurship and opportunity.

“The Consumer Choice Center applauds Rep. Mace’s efforts, and hopes legislators line up behind this proposal,” said Clement.

Read more about the Consumer Choice Center’s Smart Cannabis Policy Recommendations

CONTACT:

Yaël Ossowski

Deputy Director

Consumer Choice Center

yael@consumerchoicecenter.org

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

A Crypto Surveillance Mandate In the Infrastructure Bill Must Be Rejected

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A Crypto Surveillance Mandate In the Infrastructure Bill Must Be Rejected

Washington, D.C. — Today, the US House is expected to take a vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill that contains vast implications for cryptocurrency users.

Hidden inside is an amendment to tax code 6050I that could make receiving and failing to correctly report a digital asset (be it a cryptocurrency, NFT, or another type of digital asset) a felony. According to the amendment of 6050I, any US citizen who receives over $10,000 must report within 15 days the sender’s personal information such as Social Security number and tax ID. Failure to do so could result in mandatory fines and lead to a felony charge with up to five years in prison. 

As noted by University of Virginia School of Law Adjunct Professor Abraham Sutherland, it “relies on a 1984 law that was written to discourage in-person cash transfers and to encourage the use of financial institutions for large transactions”. By regulators once again applying old rules to an emerging asset class they are risking not only harming the consumer and the whole nascent industry but also further eroding the privacy of US citizens. 

“If passed, this amendment will stifle innovation and result in huge loss of value for consumers and businesses alike while further centralizing control over transactions that US citizens make. It will hurt a flourishing economy, and it will also have long-term effects in a future where digital assets are not going away,” said Yaël Ossowski, deputy director of the Consumer Choice Center, a global consumer advocacy group.

CCC’s Crypto Fellow Aleksandar Kokotović echoed those sentiments: “Not only US companies and investors would be hurt by this amendment, but also domestic consumers and retail investors, who would be severely discouraged from participating in the digital asset class economy which is now setting standards for decades to come.”

In an asset class that didn’t exist in 1984 when the original law was written, it is completely possible that the person receiving the funds would not have a specific individual or legal entity to report but rather that the ‘sender’ is a decentralized exchange or a group of individuals. This is just one example of the anachronistic stipulations of this amendment that are worrying consumers.

“Turning even small retail investors such as students into potential felons or subjecting them to outdated laws will only serve to limit the unparalleled economic growth currently provided by the sector, or risk pushing all investment and entrepreneurship to other jurisdictions,” added Kokotović.

As legislators and regulators seek to understand, contain, and regulate cryptocurrencies, last week the Consumer Choice Center published its list of common-sense principles for smart crypto regulation that will safeguard innovation, protect consumers, and adapt for technological and financial change.

“We recognize the importance of crypto regulation for keeping bad actors in check and providing a sound institutional framework. We also recognize that the nascent crypto finance space is ever-changing and rapidly evolving, and that overzealous regulation could cripple future potential,” said Ossowski. “We offer bedrock principles on smart crypto regulation for lawmakers, hoping to promote sound policies that will encourage innovation, increase economic inclusion across all income groups, all the while protecting consumers from harm,” he added.

In the coming weeks, the Consumer Choice Center will be meeting with legislative and regulatory officials to ensure these principles are upheld in any future regulation or guidance.
 

CONSUMER CHOICE CENTER’S PRINCIPLES FOR SMART CRYPTO REGULATION:

  • Prevent Fraud
  • Technological Neutrality
  • Reasonable Taxation
  • Legal Certainty & Transparency

The policy primer can be read in full here.

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.

Complete PFAS ban not feasible: the EU needs a different approach

Brussels, Belgium – Yesterday, a stakeholder consultation led by the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, and Norway on the use of PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) closed. 

The prospect of an EU PFAS ban is as real as ever, with a number of green groups skewing the discourse towards complete avoidance. In the US, the situation is hardly different, where the PFAS Action Act will soon face a final vote in the Senate.

In response, the Consumer Choice Center’s Maria Chaplia and David Clement published articles in The Parliament Magazine and Real Clear Markets arguing that “while manmade chemicals have their risks, that risk level ultimately depends on each use case and exposure.”

Key points raised in the articles:

“PFAS can be found – but not limited to – in household items and other consumer products, medical equipment, food packaging, and firefighting foam. Their popularity can be explained by their unique qualities, such as chemical resistance and surface tension lowering properties. PFAS’ effectiveness has made them hard and costly to replace”, argue Maria Chaplia and David Clement.

“Some PFAS ban/restrictions might very well be needed and justified but banning an entire category of evolving products won’t serve the consumer. A more appropriate response would be to evaluate these chemicals and substances based on the risk they present and how they are used, rather than lumping them all together and risk enacting bad policy that will have a myriad of consequences”, said Chaplia and Clement

“For example, some of these chemical compounds are vital for contamination-resistant gowns and drapes, implantable medical devices, stent grafts, heart patches, sterile container filters, needle retrieval systems, tracheostomies, catheter guide wire for laparoscopy and inhaler canister coatings. To ban all these chemical compounds, without evaluating the risk associated with each use, puts lifesaving medical technologies in jeopardy and patient safety at risk” 

“Heavyhanded PFAS regulations will also jeopardize the EU smartphone market, used by the vast majority of  Europeans everyday. As cell phones and 5G technology continue to grow and require faster speeds at smaller sizes, these compounds are involved in everything from producing semiconductors to helping cool data centers for cloud computing. Forcibly removing these chemicals from the production process, especially because they present very little risk to humans, will drastically disrupt supply chains and inflate costs that will hurt low-income people the hardest.” argue Chaplia and Clement

John Oliver’s “One Size Fits All” Approach For PFAS Is Misguided

Washington, DC –  British showman and comedian John Oliver, known for his punchy and thorough rants on public policy, has set his sights on a new target: man made chemicals, known as PFAS. In his now viral rant, Oliver explains how PFAS chemicals are problematic for human health and wants all of these chemicals to be declared hazardous by law. This is, in fact, what Congress is attempting to do via the PFAS Action Act, which has passed the House and is waiting for a final vote in the Senate.

David Clement, North American Affairs Manager with the DC based Consumer Choice Center urged caution in regards to regulating these man made chemicals: ” While some bans or restrictions might very well be needed and justified, banning an entire category of evolving products won’t serve the consumer. A more appropriate response would be to evaluate these chemicals and substances based on the risk they present and how they are used, rather than lumping them all together and risk enacting bad policy that will have a myriad of consequences.”

“For example, these chemicals are commonly used to create a long list of medical devices and equipment and done so in a way that presents very little risk to human health. To declare all these chemical compounds hazardous, without evaluating the risk associated with each use, puts lifesaving medical technologies in jeopardy and patient safety at risk,” said Clement

“These chemicals are also used in the production process for smartphones, which 270 million Americans currently use. As cell phones and 5G technology continue to grow and require faster speeds at smaller sizes, these compounds are involved in everything from producing semiconductors to helping cool data centers for cloud computing. Forcibly removing these chemicals from the production process, even when they present very little risk to humans, will drastically disrupt supply chains and inflate costs that will hurt low-income people the hardest,” said Clement.

“Rather than a “one size fits all” approach to PFAS, regulators should keep in mind that risk is established by looking at the hazard a substance presents, and the exposure to that hazard. There is a significant difference between the dumping of these chemicals into water ways, which is atrocious and should never happen, and the necessary use of these chemicals in various production processes, which pose little to no risk to consumer health and safety. Failing to see the difference, and lumping all of these modern chemicals into one regulatory basket, will create a laundry list of negative externalities,” said Clement

Parlamento Europeu envia carta em defesa da PI à Câmara e ao Senado

Brasília, BR – Foi protocolada hoje, quinta-feira, 23 de Setembro, uma carta enviada do Parlamento Europeu aos Presidentes da Câmara dos Deputados, Arthur Lira, e do Senado Federal, Rodrigo Pacheco. Na carta, 11 membros do Parlamento Europeu expressam suas preocupações com relação ao futuro da propriedade intelectual no Brasil após a Lei nº 14.200 de 2 de setembro de 2021, que prejudica o ambiente de propriedade intelectual (PI) no Brasil, ser aprovada. A carta questiona como as indústrias europeias, de muitos setores que dependem de proteção de PI, podem investir e comercializar no Brasil. A carta teve apoio do grupo internacional de defesa dos consumidores Consumer Choice Center e da Frente Parlamentar pelo Livre Mercado.

“Temos uma relação comercial muito próxima com o Brasil, e por isso estamos preocupados com o caminho que o Brasil vem seguindo no que diz respeito às leis de propriedade intelectual” disse em nota Gianna Gancia, MEP. “Países com fortes regimes de PI estimulam a inovação e a criatividade e são necessários para o crescimento econômico, a competitividade e a criação de empregos. Infelizmente, a PL nº 12/2021, e a consequente Lei nº 14.200, não ajudam o Brasil a cumprir os objetivos traçados na Estratégia Nacional de Propriedade Intelectual” concluiu Gancia.

“A exigência existente no PL nº 12/2021 que determinava que as empresas compartilhassem os seus segredos comerciais não tem precedentes e é inconsistente com as obrigações de proteção de segredos comerciais do acordo TRIPS. Forçar a transferência de tecnologia negaria aos inovadores a certeza e a previsibilidade necessárias para investir com confiança e acelerar o lançamento de novos produtos no Brasil” disse o Deputado Paulo Ganime, coordenador de Inovação da Frente Parlamentar pelo Livre Mercado. Para ele, “o governo acertou em vetar essa parte do texto, que poderia prejudicar a nossa credibilidade. O mais importante agora é garantirmos que o veto será mantido”, acrescentou.

Para Beatriz Nóbrega, Secretária Executiva da Frente Parlamentar do Livre Mercado, “existem alternativas melhores para criar no Brasil um ambiente que promova a inovação, o investimento estrangeiro direto e o acesso a novos produtos. Queremos ampliar as parcerias comerciais do Brasil no exterior e para isso precisamos honrar nossos acordos internacionais e buscar políticas que protejam a inovação e a criatividade, com o objetivo de deixar claro que no Brasil há estabilidade jurídica.”

Para Fábio Fernandes, Diretor de Comunicação da associação de consumidores Consumer Choice Center (Centro de Escolha do Consumidor), esta mudança na Lei preocupa muito os consumidores e pacientes brasileiros, pois decidirá o futuro da inovação nos campos da tecnologia, agropecuária e medicina.

“Os consumidores estão preocupados com a possibilidade de novos produtos, tecnologias e medicamentos não estarem disponíveis no Brasil por uma insegurança jurídica. A lei de propriedade intelectual no Brasil está de acordo com o padrão internacional porém essa nova lei, somada à recente decisão do STF sobre o Artigo 40 da Lei de PI, pode enfraquecer esse direito pondo em risco o futuro da inovação no Brasil” afirmou Fernandes. 

“Vacinas para o setor de agropecuária, remédios contra o câncer, componentes de informática como microchips para celulares, e até inteligência artificial são alguns exemplos de produtos e inovações que podem atrasar ou até mesmo nunca chegar ao mercado brasileiro” concluiu Fernandes.

Leaked Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan threatens consumer choice

A leak of the upcoming “Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan” signals the European Commission’s determination to create a “Tobacco-Free Generation” by turning a blind eye to science. In particular, according to the leaked proposal (attached below), the Commission fails to acknowledge vaping as an innovative way to reduce harm associated with smoking and as a method to help smokers quit.

The leaked proposal reveals the push to expand taxation to “novel tobacco products,” including vaping; extend the coverage of the smoking bans indoor and outdoor to e-cigarettes, and a broad flavour ban.

“Europe’s Beating Cancer plan is a momentous opportunity to embrace innovative ways of fighting cancer. The stakes are extremely high, and the European Union simply cannot afford to get it wrong. Vaping was invented to help smokers quit by providing them with a safer alternative. As of today, endorsing vaping is the best-known way to balance out an urgent need to reduce cancer rates and the need to protect consumer choice of current and future generations in the EU,” said Luca Bertoletti, Senior European Affairs Manager at the Consumer Choice Center.

“Vaping has gained popularity among European smokers precisely because it reduces harm. The proposed restrictive approach won’t drive down demand. Rather, it will result in a spike in illicit trade which, in turn, will endanger European consumers and increase the budget losses from uncollected taxation.

“If the European Commission proceeds with this version of the plan, it will not only fail to fight cancer, but will also miss out on a chance to put Europe on the path toward a pro-innovation, pro-consumer choice, and pro-science future. We at the Consumer Choice Center call on the Commission to reconsider its antiquated approach to beating cancer and recognise the life-saving potential of vaping. Let us make the most out of a once-in-generation opportunity to put in place a policy that saves lives,” concluded Bertoletti.

Consumer advocacy group sends a letter on airport slots waiver to Brussels

Brussels, BE – Today, the Consumer Choice Center, the consumer advocacy group representing and empowering consumers in the EU and globally, sent a letter to Director-General Henrik Hololei to express their deep concerns about the Commission’s intention to extend the waiver of the “use-it-or-lose-it” rule for the entire 2020-2021 winter season.

source http://meltwater.pressify.io/publication/5f52525e9647c10004433e5f/5aa837df2542970e001981f6

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