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Press Release

Chip Shortage Could Worsen With Over-Regulation on PFAS

Last week news broke that the ongoing chip shortage cost the US economy $240 billion in 2021. The shortage heavily impacted the auto industry, costing manufacturers an estimated $210 billion in revenue as cars sat in lots waiting for chips to be installed. In response, Intel announced that they will build a $20 billion chip factory in Ohio, but those efforts may be limited if Congress proceeds with heavy-handed regulations for perfluoroalkyls (PFAS) found in the PFAS Action Act.

The Consumer Choice Center’s North American Affairs Manager David Clement responds: “The PFAS Action Act could seriously jeopardize chip manufacturing in the United States, and ultimately make the chip shortage much worse before it gets better. These chemicals are vital for the production of semiconductors, and if Congress continues down the path of wanting to ban PFAS chip manufacturers will be in a world of trouble.

“Regulating PFAS has to be done from the perspective of clean drinking water, as opposed to declaring all 4,000+ PFAS chemicals hazardous. Ensuring proper production standards to avoid dumping or leakage helps solve the problem of contaminated water, while avoiding the consequences of banning PFAS all together. This is especially important in the context of everyday consumer products that rely on these chemicals in the manufacturing process. If production standards for PFAS are upheld, and enforced, we can tackle the clean drinking water issue while allowing for PFAS to be used where it presents little to no risk to consumers,” said Clement.

“What makes the act even more problematic is that the science isn’t settled in regards to the impact PFAS has on human health, and at what exposure level. Peer-reviewed research in Environmental Research suggests that it might be time for legislators to take a deep breath before over-committing themselves to heavy restrictions and out-right bans. We hope that Congress can follow the science on PFAS,” said Clement.

Harm reduction facts: vaping is not a gateway to smoking

Consumer Choice Center published a new factsheet with the latest research demonstrating why vaping is not a gateway to smoking.

Main findings:

  • Fact number 1. The essence of e-cigarettes is different from that of conventional cigarettes, and their purpose is to serve as a safer alternative that reduces health-associated risks.
  • Fact number 2. Nicotine, also found in e-cigarettes and used in conventional nicotine replacement therapy, doesn’t increase the risk of serious illnesses (heart attack, stroke) or mortality.
  • Fact number 3. Youth use of e-cigarettes is rare and most users are current or former smokers. 
  • Fact number 4. Vaping flavour bans might increase the cigarette uptake among teens and young adults and push adult vapers back to smoking.

“Most anti-vaping arguments fail to take into account the fact that vaping devices target tobacco consumers. This is similar to sugar consumption by people who suffer from diabetes: sugar substitutes are not a gateway to sugar because consumers switch to avoid the harmful effects of sugar. Sugar substitutes are not blamed for increased sugar consumption, and vaping devices serve a similar purpose should be equally endorsed,” said Maria Chaplia, Research Manager at the Consumer Choice Center and a co-author of the paper.

“We want our factsheet to be used by policymakers in Europe and across the world as a guide to a pro-consumer, pro-science, and pro-choice approach to lifestyle regulations. Vaping does help adult smokers quit. Our factsheet provides a valuable overview of the main studies on vaping, and we hope it will increase awareness of this harm reduction tool,” concluded Chaplia.

The UAE ranked the most pandemic-resilient country

Today, the Consumer Choice Center, a global consumer advocacy group, released the updated 2022 Pandemic Resilience Index to overview global health system preparedness for COVID-19 and other viruses.

The Index examines 40 countries through the following factors: vaccination drive, booster programme launch, time lags that have put brakes on it, critical care bed capacity, and mass testing.

In 2021, the Consumer Choice Center published the Pandemic Resilience Index, with March 31, 2021 as the cut off date. The original results found that the UAE was the second most prepared country. The updated Index incorporates the new data between the end of March and late November, 2021, and additionally considers the booster programme.

“The UAE was the pioneer of the booster rollout. Countries such as New Zealand, Ukraine, Australia, Spain and Canada took 5 months longer to get it up and running. Compared to the initial results, the change in the ranking is largely due to the booster vaccine rollout delays. Israel, the most resilient country, according to the original Index, started giving out boosters 75 days later than the UAE,” said Maria Chaplia, Research Manager at the Consumer Choice Center and author of the Index.

“We also considered the relative change in testing, compared to the original index. Although Greece’s increase was highest, the UAE was among the top five countries to have increased their testing. Luxembourg and Sweden, for contrast, reduced their testing,” added Chaplia.

“We recognise that there are limitations to what this Index can achieve, as well as there might be a minor margin of error. However, it holds that vaccination and testing capacity remain a critical weapon against new strains of COVID. Most countries have learned the importance of testing, but the booster vaccination rollout experienced significant delays. The index should be seen as a reminder that there are countries that do it better — such as the UAE, Cyprus, and Bahrain — and they should be further explored as success stories,” concluded Chaplia.

The CCC welcomes Lord Wharton and Alexander Kvitashvili as Advisers

The Consumer Choice Center (CCC), the global consumer advocacy group, has announced the appointment of the Right Honourable Lord Wharton of Yarm as Strategic Adviser and of Alexander Kvitashvili as Public Health Adviser.

Lord Wharton took his seat in the House of Lords in September 2020. In 2021, he was appointed the chair of the Office of Students (OfS). Prior to that, Lord Wharton served as Boris Johnson’s Campaign Manager in a Conservative leadership race in 2019 and as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department for International Development from July 2015 to June 2017. He was elected a Conservative Member of Parliament for Stockton South in 2010 and served two terms.

Commenting on his appointment, Lord Wharton said:

“I’m extremely excited to be joining the Consumer Choice Center as Strategic Adviser. The CCC’s work in free trade, lifestyle, innovation, and agriculture is outstanding and timely. Evidence-based policies of which the CCC is a passionate advocate have helped improve consumers’ lives in the UK and globally. I look forward to working with the CCC on raising the voice of consumers in the policy process.”

Alexander Kvitashvili is an independent consultant at the World Health Organisation (WHO). He served as the 19th Minister of Healthcare of Ukraine from 2014 to 2016. Kvitashvili also served as Minister of Health of Georgia from 2008 to 2010. Kvitashvili was also the rector of Tbilisi State University (TSU) from 2010 to 2013.

Commenting on his appointment, Alexander Kvitashvili said:

“I am extremely delighted to be joining the CCC’s as a Public Health Adviser. I have been following the work of the CCC since their start, and I am astounded by its achievements. The public health discourse is often riddled with dogma and one-sided views, and the CCC is truly a one-of-its-kind group. The CCC brings brilliant expertise, global perspective, and dedication to preserving consumer choice. I look forward to advising the CCC on public health matters.”

Commenting on the appointments, Fred Roeder, the Managing Director of the CCC said:

“I’m thrilled to welcome Lord Wharton as our new Strategic Adviser and Alexander Kvitashvili as our Public Health Adviser. As the CCC continues to expand, Lord Wharton’s exceptional knowledge of the UK’s domestic scene will be instrumental in helping us elevate the voice of consumers. Alexander’s valuable public health insights will be critical in taking our work to the next level. I am confident that with Lord Wharton and Alexander Kvitashvili onboard, the CCC’s impact will blossom.”

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

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