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Press Release

Rishi’s Vape Ban: Last Nail in the Coffin of UK’s Harm Reduction Leadership

London, January 29th, 2024 – The Consumer Choice Center (CCC), a global advocacy group championing individual freedom and consumer choice, criticises the UK government’s latest announcement to introduce bans on disposable vapes, limit vaping flavours, and ban tobacco products for everyone born on or after January 1st, 2009.

Fred Roeder, Managing Director of the Consumer Choice Center, warns that the UK will lose its global leadership in cutting smoking rates thanks to smart regulations. Roeder stated, “For over a decade now, the UK’s approach was the global gold standard on combatting smoking rates – Rishi’s giga ban package will be the last nail in the coffin of the UK’s harm reduction leadership.”

Roeder continues, “Smoking rates are already at historic lows. This shows that previous policies have worked. Stricter enforcement of age restrictions at the point of sale is a good idea. However, banning entire categories of innovative products is going exactly in the wrong direction. As a former smoker who was able to quit thanks to vaping, I can only say that the planned ban on disposables will make it harder for people to quit. 5% of UK adults currently use disposable vapes – Do we really want to risk that many of them pick up smoking again?”

The Consumer Choice Center highlights on its campaign website www.no2prohibition.uk the issues with Rishi’s generational ban and vape restrictions.

Johor-Singapore Special Economic Zone will increase market access and choice for consumers

KUALA LUMPUR, 11th January 2024 – The Consumer Choice Center believes that the agreement to establish the Johor-Singapore Special Economic Zone will contribute to creating a better environment for consumers in both Malaysia and Singapore, especially in terms of access to the markets and consumer choices. 

Representative of the Malaysian Consumer Choice Center, Tarmizi Anuwar stated, “The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Malaysia and Singapore to establish the Johor-Singapore Special Economic Zone (JS-SEZ) is able to attract more foreign investment, increase economic development and promote international trade between Malaysia and Singapore.”

“Typically, special economic zones will focus on export-oriented activities where businesses will produce goods and services for the international market between Malaysia and Singapore. Indirectly, this will facilitate the flow of goods and services between the two countries. As entrepreneurs access more opportunities, this then provides consumers with a wider variety of options.”

One of the proposals that will be implemented is to introduce passport-free travel by using a QR code at land checkpoints. Commenting on this, Tarmizi opined, “Eliminating the need for a passport makes travel easier for consumers and encourages tourism between countries. Movement and tourism will contribute significantly to the local economy such as spending on accommodation, meals, transport and various goods and services.”

“In addition, the QR code release system on both sides will facilitate the travel process and be very beneficial for business professionals involved in cross-border activities. The QR code system promotes smoother and faster entry, facilitates business operations and fosters international trade and cooperation.

The implementation of a passport-free QR code clearance system between Malaysia and Singapore also has the potential to catalyze significant growth in the technology and innovation sectors.

“This policy will also greatly benefit entrepreneurs and startups in the technology sector with easier access to markets and resources in both countries. This can lead to the growth of cross-border startup hubs and innovation and create a more interconnected and sustainable startup ecosystem. In addition, companies and research institutions can share progress more easily, fostering an environment where technological innovations can be adopted and used quickly,” he concluded. 

Consumer groups celebrate Malaysia follows in the footsteps of New Zealand scraps generational ban

KUALA LUMPUR, 24th November 2023 – The Consumer Choice Center (CCC) has applauded the recent cabinet decision by the Malaysian government to overturn the planned generational endgame. This important step, as mentioned by the Attorney General that it is against the principle of equality of law in the Federal Constitution, is seen as a victory for choice and intelligent policymaking.

Representative of the Malaysian Consumer Choice Center, Tarmizi Anuwar hailed the decision as a step towards recognising the importance of individual freedom and the potential negative consequences of a generational ban on smoking. Tarmizi stated, “We commend the government’s commitment to choice and sensible policy. Banning an entire generation from accessing legal products is not only paternalistic but can lead to unintended consequences such as illicit trade and exposing consumers to unregulated product risks.”

This decision is in line with recent developments in New Zealand, where plans for a generation ban are also to be abandoned by the new government. Tarmizi commented, “The global trend is shifting towards recognizing that individuals should have the autonomy to make choices for themselves. Malaysia should uphold this decision and continue to consistently move towards policies that empower consumers rather than restrict them.”

In addition, Tarmizi emphasized that the government needs to immediately regulate vaping to ensure the safety of consumers and avoid misunderstandings or myths about this harm reduction product.

“The government needs to immediately introduce smart laws to regulate vaping to ensure the safety of users can be guaranteed and minors protected. The absence of this law exposes consumers to the risk of products that do not meet health regulations on the market.”

“This absence also causes the public to not get accurate information about vaping which is 95 percent safer than cigarettes and able to be the most important alternative to effectively reduce smokers in Malaysia.”

Previously, Malaysia often referred to New Zealand as an example country to implement the generational endgame, but today New Zealand itself has decided to scrap the law. Hence, the Consumer Choice Center encourages the Malaysian government to consider evidence-based and consumer-centric policies that respect individual freedoms and evidence.

Court Ruling On Plastic Is A Win For Consumers And The Environment

Ottawa, ON – Yesterday, a federal court ruled that Ottawa overstepped in designating all “manufactured plastic items” as toxic under CEPA, which puts Ottawa’s single-use plastics ban in question.

David Clement, Toronto based North American Affairs Manager for the Consumer Choice Center (CCC), responded stating: “The court ruling is a huge win for consumers, and for the environment. The federal government using CEPA to regulate plastics, and following that up with a single-use ban, was the laziest route they could take in dealing with the issue of plastic waste.”

“Unravelling the single-use plastic ban would be a win for consumers because the alternatives are more expensive. According to Ottawa’s own analysis, paper bags are 2.6 times more expensive than plastic bags. Single-use cutlery made of wood is 2.25 times more expensive than plastic cutlery, while paper straw alternatives are three times more expensive,” said Clement.

“And the ban on these single-use items was also bad for the environment, because it pushed consumers to alternatives that are worse in terms of environmental impact. According to Denmark’s environment ministry, paper bags would each need to be re-used 43 times to bring their per-use impact on the environment down to the per-use impact of the single-use plastic bags. When the alternative option is a cotton bag, that number skyrockets to 7,100 uses. A consumer substituting a cotton bag for plastic would need 136 years of weekly grocery store trips to be as environmentally friendly as single-use plastic is,” said Clement

Previously, the Consumer Choice Center has voiced our concerns with Ottawa’s plastic ban in the Financial Post, Le Journal de Montreal, and the Toronto Sun

Une victoire pour les consommateurs après la défaite de l’interdiction du plastique de Trudeau

POUR DIFFUSION IMMÉDIATE | 17 novembre, 2023

OTTAWA, ON. – Ce jeudi, la Cour fédérale a rendu sa décision qui mettra fin au plan du gouvernement Trudeau d’interdire des articles en plastique à usage unique à la fin de 2023.

La Cour est concise sur le fait que le plan était à la fois excessif et manquait de mérite « le décret et l’inscription correspondante des articles manufacturés en plastique sur la liste des substances toxiques de l’annexe 1 sont à la fois déraisonnables et inconstitutionnels, » conclut-elle.

Yaël Ossowski, directeur adjoint de l’Agence pour le choix du consommateur, réagit :

« Les consommateurs devraient être ravis que ce plan de Trudeau touche à sa fin. L’interdiction du plastique n’était qu’une tentative musclée visant à priver les consommateurs et les entreprises d’un bien essentiel à la vie quotidienne.

« Comme nous l’avons décrit dans notre tribune dans Le Journal de Montréal en janvier 2021, ce plan a compliqué les efforts légitimes des entrepreneurs de créer des alternatives à la fois à l’innovation et au recyclage du plastique, » dit Ossowski.

« C’est grâce au génie québécois que nous puissions nous débarrasser de plastique de façon responsable, et non grâce à une prohibition du gouvernement fédéral. Au lieu de laisser les provinces gérer leurs approches et les innovateurs trouver des solutions efficaces, le gouvernement fédéral a choisi la voie paresseuse de l’interdiction pure et simple de certains produits. Cela nuit à tout le monde, et particulièrement à nous tous, consommateur.

« Nous applaudissons la décision de la Cour fédérale, »  conclut Ossowski.

Contact

Yaël Ossowski, directeur adjoint

L’Agence pour le choix du consommateur


L’Agence pour le choix du consommateur représente des consommateurs dans plus de 100 pays à travers le monde. Nous surveillons de près les tendances réglementaires à Ottawa, Washington, Bruxelles, Genève, Lima, Brasilia et dans d’autres points chauds de réglementation et informons et activons les consommateurs pour qu’ils se battent pour le #ChoixduConsommateur. Apprenez-en davantage sur consumerchoicecenter.org.

RELEASE: The Consumer Case for Reimagining and Innovating Railroad Policy

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | November 9, 2023

The Consumer Case for Reimagining and Innovating Railroad Policy

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the global consumer advocacy group Consumer Choice Center launched a policy primer on how best to reimagine and innovate public policy for freight rail in the United States.

The primer includes several key policy suggestions for legislators to help improve rail policy so that consumers can depend on affordable transportation for products they enjoy:

  • Oppose the Reliable Rail Service Act (S2071)
  • Congress should limit the common carrier obligation or eliminate it all together
  • Congress should amend the Surface Transportation Board Reauthorization Act to ensure the agency acts as a remedial agency and does not create its own policy

Yaël Ossowski, deputy director of the Consumer Choice Center, explains:

“As we’ve seen with US tech companies and the Federal Trade Commission or Internet service providers and the Federal Communications Commission, our federal regulatory agencies are taking a much more active role in enforcing various policy desires – in a way that is proving detrimental to consumers.

“The same is happening in the area of freight rail policy, where the Surface Transportation Board is abusing its authority by unjustly expanding its enforcement of common carrier obligations in a way that ends up raising prices for transportation of goods that consumers rely on,” said Ossowski.

“Decades after piecemeal freight rail reform, the STB has been wielding much more control over the economic decisions of rail carriers and their customers, using jawboning, rhetorical threats, and exploratory rule-making to make their presence known.

“This threatens both innovation and innovation in rail transportation, which remains a key “middle mover” of goods that end up on our doorsteps and in our businesses.

“We propose a series of smart policy reforms to reimagine rail policy, highlighting the need for entrepreneurship and investment to lead us to better solutions, not top-down policy that is leading to higher transportation costs that end up reflecting in the goods we buy.

“These reforms aim to increase competition, generate investment, and ensure that lower costs can be passed down to consumers who rely on rail transportation for their products we use in our homes and businesses,” concluded Ossowski.

READ THE PRIMER HERE

Contact

Yaël Ossowski, Deputy Director

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 at consumerchoicecenter.org.

Government to remove the Generational Endgame coincides with the principles of the federal constitution

KUALA LUMPUR, 7th November 2023 – The Consumer Choice Center (CCC) is supporting the government’s action to remove the generational endgame from the Control of Smoking Products for Public Health Bill 2023 because it is against the principle of equality before the law. 

Representative of the Malaysian Consumer Choice Center, Tarmizi Anuwar said: “The government’s decision to remove the generational endgame provisions needs to be supported because this coincides with the spirit of the Federal Constitution.” 

“The CCC strongly disagreed with the proposed ban because it violated the fundamental rights of Malaysians that everyone is equal under the law and entitled to equal protection under the law as stated in Article 8 of the Federal Constitution. The law must be fair for all generations and every group of society. The law cannot give only one advantage to one generation and deprive it from another.”

However, Tarmizi emphasized that the government needs to immediately regulate vaping to ensure the safety of consumers and avoid misunderstandings or myths about this harm reduction product.

“The government needs to immediately introduce smart laws to regulate vaping to ensure the safety of users can be guaranteed and minors protected. The absence of this law exposes consumers to the risk of products that do not meet health regulations on the market.”

“This absence also causes the public to not get accurate information about vaping which is 95 percent safer than cigarettes and able to be the most important alternative to effectively reduce smokers in Malaysia.”

Public Health England estimates that vaping is 95 percent less harmful to the user’s health than regular cigarettes. 

One of the latest research studies from the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN) at King’s College London vaping can lead to a significant reduction in exposure to toxins that promote cancer, lung disease and cardiovascular disease.

“This is the best time for the government to end the myth about vaping and recognize tobacco harm reduction as the main strategy to reduce smokers in Malaysia,” he concluded.

The Personal Data Protection Act 2010 Should Apply to the Public Sector

KUALA LUMPUR, 26th October 2023 – The Consumer Choice Center (CCC) urges the government especially the Ministry of Digital and Communications to consider amending the Personal Data Protection Act 2010 by expanding the application of the act to the public sector.  

Wakil Pusat Pilihan Pengguna Malaysia, Tarmizi Anuwar berkata: “Representative of the Malaysian Consumer Choice Centre, Tarmizi Anuwar said: “There is a need for the Personal Data Protection Act 2010 to be extended to the public sector in order to improve the quality of data security and transparency in the public sector. Notably, yesterday’s 2023 Mid-Year Threat Landscape Report by Cyber Security Malaysia showed that the government sector experienced the highest breach or leakage of information in the first half of this year at 22 percent.”

In addition, according to the amount of data leaked by sector, the Government sector is in the second highest place at 28.67 percent behind the banking sector at 37.65 percent. Followed by telecommunications by 20.98 percent, logistics and transport by 9.67 percent and retail by 3.02 percent.   

Currently, Act 709 does not apply to the federal government, state governments and their agencies but only applies to commercial transactions of personal data. 

“Currently, any public sector data leaks will be investigated by the Federal and state governments, the National Cyber Security Agency (Nacsa) which is under the jurisdiction of the National Security Council (MKN). However, until now there is no clear structure regarding the process to be taken when an information leak occurs in the public sector.”

“In addition, there is no mechanism for individuals to claim compensation when there is a leak in the public sector that causes users to suffer material damage such as financial damage or non-material damage such as loss of reputation or psychological burden. We should take the example of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) by the European Union which is quite comprehensive by taking into account the risk of information leakage in the public sector and the right of users to seek compensation,” he said. 

Commenting on the factors and weaknesses of leaks such as vulnerable software, weak access control, data disclosure and critical issues, Tarmizi suggested that the government to improve and enforce the policies and procedures of a public sector organization’s data protection. 

“The public sector needs to upgrade data protection procedures in the public sector such as controlling access to sensitive data by limiting data access only to certain employees or deleting data that is no longer used to avoid the risk of internal breaches and theft or loss of data.”

“The public sector also needs to upgrade to safer software with a focus on standards and results rather than fixing any single technology or solution and does not preclude the use of new technologies,” Tarmizi concluded.

The FCC resurrects a net neutrality plan nobody asked for and no one needs

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | October 19, 2023

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Federal Communications Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel spoke at the agency’s open meeting about the forthcoming rules to reclassify broadband providers as public utilities under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934, commonly known as “net neutrality.”

This marks a step back for all American Internet users, who have thus far profited from a more innovative broadband marketplace since the repeal of these rules in 2017 by former chair Ajit Pai.

Yaël Ossowski, deputy director of the Consumer Choice Center, reacted to the announcement:

“Resurrecting the idea of Title-II regulation of the Internet, after its successful repeal in 2017, is the idea that nobody needs in 2023. Since then, we’ve seen incredible innovation and investment, as more Internet customers begin using mobile hotspots and satellite Internet, getting more Americans online than ever before. No one is asking for this proposal and no one needs it.

“Regulating ISPs like water utilities or electricity providers is a path toward more government control and oversight of the Internet, plain and simple,” said Ossowski.

“As we’ve seen with the recent Missouri v. Biden court case, today’s major Internet problem isn’t broadband providers blocking certain access or services, but government agencies attempting to strong-arm and jawbone Internet providers and platforms into censoring or removing content they don’t agree with. This is more concerning than any worst-case scenario dreamed up by FCC commissioners.

“Bringing these dead regulations back to life to enforce Depression-era rules on the web will be a losing issue for millions of Americans who enjoy greater Internet access and services than ever before.

“Rather than support Americans’ access to the Internet, it stands to threaten the vast entrepreneurial and tech spaces across our country and will push companies to set up in jurisdictions that promise true Internet freedom rather than state-imposed regulation of content and delivery of Internet services. It would be another failed initiative of so-called “Bidenomics”.

“We implore the FCC to whole an open and honest public engagement process on these proposed net neutrality regulations, and we are certain consumers will have their say against this proposal,” added Ossowski.


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 at consumerchoicecenter.org.

***Please send media inquiries to yael@consumerchoicecenter.org.***

The Feasibility of Medical Loss Ratio for Dental Insurance for Patients and Consumers

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | October 5, 2023

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the global consumer advocacy group Consumer Choice Center launched a policy primer on the feasibility of enforcing medical-loss ratios and rebates for dental insurance in order to benefit patients.

The primer examines how medical-loss ratio is used in other medical categories, international comparisons, and how it would lead to a more open and competitive dental insurance market that would unlock savings for patients.

Yaël Ossowski, deputy director of the Consumer Choice Center, explains:

“Medical-loss-ratio requirements of the Affordable Care Act for general health insurance were a welcome first step to a more competitive industry. Yet more should be done to contain costs, open markets, and subject healthcare and health insurance to real competition, and that should be translated to the dental insurance market as well,” said Ossowski.

“Efforts are ongoing across states to hold insurers accountable by removing state barriers to competition, and to enforce medical-loss ratios and rebates so patients can actually get the care they pay for and deserve.

“Large scale reforms aimed at decoupling insurance from employers, providing more direct-to-consumer options that eschew insurance, and removing red tape at both the state and federal level would be long overdue reforms to empower consumers within a competitive and thriving market for dental care.

“On that path, we believe medical-loss ratio requirements and rebates would be a quick and easy measure to keep insurance accountable, promote competition, and ultimately unlock savings for patients,” concluded Ossowski.

By passing state-level medical-loss-ratio requirements for dental insurers, legislators could ensure that consumers and patients profit from a competitive and affordable market. This would serve the following benefits:

  • Keep dental insurance accountable
  • Unlock benefit spending for patients
  • Promote competition among insurers

READ THE PRIMER HERE

Contact

Yaël Ossowski, Deputy Director

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 at consumerchoicecenter.org.

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