British taxpayers ‘should not subsidise scaremongering anti-vaping laws’

EXPRESS: Jeff Stier, of the Consumer Choice Centre, a US consumer watchdog, said: “Both the US and UK are financing an organisation which for years has had problems with corruption and transparency, and the biggest part with transparency issues is the FCT.

“Its policies show that the WHO is fighting vaping in an unscientific way.According to Public health England there is virtually no effect for bystanders  bystanders because there is virtually no smoke. You can smell it, but you can also smell a perfume. And there is very little health risk to the user.

“From a scientific prospective, there is no reason why vaping shouldn’t be allowed in public buildings. There’s no smoke or second-hand smoke.

“Adult smokers should have access to a wide variety of products that meet their needs to help them not smoke cigarettes.”

“I’ve been to a recent meeting and they would not allow journalists, or members of the public or analysts to attend”, added Jeff Stier.

“It wasn’t that they wouldn’t  let us speak  – they wouldn’t even let us hear. “They’re deliberating policies that are affecting countries that we taxpayers are paying for, and

“In the US or UK you’d never get away with this transparency. Lack of transparency leads to bad policy. Transparency matters.”

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About Jeff Stier

Jeff Stier is a Senior Fellow at the Consumer Choice Center. Mr. Stier has been a frequent guest on CNBC, and has addressed health policy on CNN, Fox News Channel, MSNBC, as well as network newscasts. He is a guest on over 100 radio shows a year, including on NPR and top-rated major market shows in cities including Boston, Philadelphia, and Sacramento, plus syndicated regional broadcasts. Jeff’s op-eds have been published in top outlets including The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Post, Forbes, The Washington Examiner, and National Review Online.

Minimum alcohol pricing doesn’t work

Criticising the Welsh government’s decision to introduce minimum unit pricing for alcohol, Bill Wirtz argues it is possible to curb consumer drinking through education rather than the heavy hand of the law.

There should, however, be no ambiguity about one point: the consumption of alcohol does bring health risks that all consumers should be aware of. Educational practices should promote and enable responsible drinkers without falling into blatant paternalism the likes of which will infantilise the Welsh consumer of their consumer choice.

In an effort to combat alcohol-related deaths, illnesses and injuries, the Welsh government has approved a law in June that will see the introduction of minimum unit pricing for alcohol. Ahead of its introduction next year, this autumn the Welsh government will determine the minimum price companies will need to charge.

Wales is hardly re-inventing the wheel by introducing minimum-unit pricing. This year, the Scottish government introduced the measure after being held back by the Supreme Court for six years. The European Court of Justice in Luxembourg had ruled (in an earlier decision) that Scotland would only be allowed to set minimum pricing if it were able to prove that the measure would improve the condition for public health. However, the Supreme Court’s conclusion was that “Minimum pricing is a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim”. It would stand to reason that the “proportionate means” part of the argument was actually backed up by science, but the opposite is the case: no evidence points the fact that minimum pricing would actually reduce the consumption of spirits.

Empirical evidence from other EU member states has shown that large-scale meddling in the food market often backfires. This has been shown in the example of Denmark, which introduced a special fat tax on certain goods, only to repeal the bill (with the same majority) 15 months later. What had happened? Not only was the tax an additional burden on people with low incomes, it also incentivised consumers to downgrade to cheaper products in the supermarket (while maintaining their consumptions of fats), leading to no impact on health and minor impact on consumption overall.

The evidence in favour of minimum alcohol pricing is simply not here. In a 2013 review of 19 studies, only two found that a significant and substantial reduction in drinking rates in response to alcohol price rises – “and even these two showed mixed results”. Earlier studies found responsiveness to prices to be close to zero.” This 1995 paper found that the heaviest drinkers’ responsiveness to price changes was statistically indistinguishable from zero, though it was based on very old data from the 1980s. This more recent one found that hazardous and harmful drinkers (people who consume more than 17.5 units per week) had a very low response to price changes.

Minimum alcohol pricing is inherently a regressive measure, as it hits low-income households the most. The measure is therefore not only failing to achieve its own objectives, it is also unfair to a large chunk of the population While minimum prices try to prevent consumers to pivot to lower-quality products, we need to realise that funds are fungible. Nothing prevents consumers to spend less money on healthy food or other essential items, in order to afford their consumption of booze.

An even more concerning issue could be a new rise in black market alcohol sales, which are known to bring considerable health hazards to the table. Given this regressive measure hits low incomes the hardest, it makes it likely that cities like Cardiff or Swansea will see a massive rise in illicit alcohol dealers adding to the already existing black market presence for drugs.

There should, however, be no ambiguity about one point: the consumption of alcohol does bring health risks that all consumers should be aware off. Educational practices should promote and enable responsible drinkers, without falling into blatant paternalism, the likes of which will infantilise the Welsh consumer and their consumer choice.

In the Committee Stage 1 Report in March of this year, the committee on health and social care & sports writes: “We note, and agree with stakeholders, that enabling the minimum unit price to be determined in regulations could ensure its impact and effectiveness can be reviewed and updated (if necessary) in a timely manner.” Let’s hope that lawmakers will stay true to this promise, and change the policy if the scientific evidence contradicts them.

Originally published at http://commentcentral.co.uk/minimum-alcohol-pricing-doesnt-work/

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About Bill Wirtz

Bill Wirtz is policy analyst for the Consumer Choice Center, based in Brussels, Belgium. Originally from Luxembourg, his articles have appeared across the world in English, French, German, and Luxembourgish. He is Editor-in-Chief of Speak Freely, the blog of European Students for Liberty, a contributing editor for the Freedom Today Network and a regular contributor for the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE). He blogs regularly on his website in four languages.

Cherry-picking is reality of the single market

TIMES OF LONDON: As Frederik Roeder of the free-market think tank Centre for Consumer Choice told me, the national governments are busy “cherry-picking” the proposals. Nobody is claiming that this is outrageous behaviour.

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About Fred Roeder

Fred Roder has been working in the field of grassroots activism for over eight years. He is a Health Economist from Germany and has worked in healthcare reform and market access in North America, Europe, and several former Soviet Republics. One of his passions is to analyze how disruptive industries and technologies allow consumers more choice at a lower cost. Fred is very interested in consumer choice and regulatory trends in the following industries: FMCG, Sharing Economy, Airlines. In 2014 he organized a protest in Berlin advocating for competition in the Taxi market. Fred has traveled to 100 countries and is looking forward to visiting the other half of the world’s countries. Among many op-eds and media appearances, he has been published in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Wirtschaftswoche, Die Welt, the BBC, SunTV, ABC Portland News, Montreal Gazette, Handelsblatt, Huffington Post Germany, CityAM. L’Agefi, and The Guardian. Since 2012 he serves as an Associated Researcher at the Montreal Economic Institute.

Opinion: a vape tax would cost more than what the government thinks

ELITE BUSINESS MAGAZINE: The UK government is currently considering introducing a sin tax on vape products for the purpose of finding additional resources to fund the NHS. Theresa May’s government is looking to add an additional tax of 5% to vape products, which would directly impact the UK’s 2.9 million vapers and jeopardise successes achieved through the UK’s progressive approach towards tobacco harm reduction.

The UK has a leading role in the world of tobacco harm reduction and nearly a quarter of all smokers were able to either use electronic cigarettes in order to quit smoking or reduce smoking. This is five times as much as the global average. But its leading role is not only shown by the astonishing number of vapers in the country but also by the fact that even the NHS admits that switching from traditional cigarettes to electronic cigarettes reduces the risk of cancer and other smoking-related diseases.

The UK is often called a vape nation and its embrace of harm reduction is novel in a world where most public health institutions including the World Health Organization (WHO) still actively block tobacco harm reduction. One of many examples of the WHO’s opposition to vaping is their suggestion to its members to ban indoor vaping even though there’s no evidence supporting this policy recommendation. The active opposition to safer and healthier methods of consuming nicotine reminds one of dark times when many institutions blocked the distribution of condoms and thus made HIV harm reduction harder.

Introducing a vape tax in order to realize populist promises to increase the NHS’ funding would not only be short-sighted but also counter-productive. Consumers will be harmed by making the transition to less risky products such as electronic cigarettes more expensive. Further taxing vape products ultimately makes them more expensive, which decreases the likelihood that smokers will make the switch.

It is also important to note that vapers actually reduce the fiscal burden for NHS, given that vape products are significantly less risky. The Royal College of Physicians endorses vaping as a healthier substitute to smoking and many experts second its view that vaping is at least 95% less harmful than traditional cigarettes.

A recent Gallup survey shows that especially millennials tend to switch to electronic cigarettes as a less-harmful way of consuming nicotine. Older generations are often still unaware of the health benefits of vaping. So instead of treating it as a sin and taxing it, we should actively inform smokers about the advantages of switching. This is good for smokers and public finances.

Less vapers means more smoking-related diseases the NHS will have to deal with. The tax could at the end of the day even cost significantly more than it will yield in revenues. A no-brainer that the Chancellor of the Exchequer should better drop this idea.

At the end of the day this sin tax punishes consumers who are otherwise saving the NHS money. In terms of public health, harm reduction, and consumer choice, creating a vape sin tax is a big mistake. Britain can lead as a shining beacon of tobacco harm reduction in the world. We should not lose this advantage by introducing a costly tax.

http://elitebusinessmagazine.co.uk/legal/item/opinion-a-vape-tax-would-cost-more-than-what-the-government-thinks

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About Fred Roeder

Fred Roder has been working in the field of grassroots activism for over eight years. He is a Health Economist from Germany and has worked in healthcare reform and market access in North America, Europe, and several former Soviet Republics. One of his passions is to analyze how disruptive industries and technologies allow consumers more choice at a lower cost. Fred is very interested in consumer choice and regulatory trends in the following industries: FMCG, Sharing Economy, Airlines. In 2014 he organized a protest in Berlin advocating for competition in the Taxi market. Fred has traveled to 100 countries and is looking forward to visiting the other half of the world’s countries. Among many op-eds and media appearances, he has been published in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Wirtschaftswoche, Die Welt, the BBC, SunTV, ABC Portland News, Montreal Gazette, Handelsblatt, Huffington Post Germany, CityAM. L’Agefi, and The Guardian. Since 2012 he serves as an Associated Researcher at the Montreal Economic Institute.

The case for defunding the WHO

COMMENT CENTRAL: Bill Wirtz believes there is no need for taxpayers to be continuously patronised by WHO health experts. It’s time to defund the WHO.

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About Bill Wirtz

Bill Wirtz is policy analyst for the Consumer Choice Center, based in Brussels, Belgium. Originally from Luxembourg, his articles have appeared across the world in English, French, German, and Luxembourgish. He is Editor-in-Chief of Speak Freely, the blog of European Students for Liberty, a contributing editor for the Freedom Today Network and a regular contributor for the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE). He blogs regularly on his website in four languages.

In defence of Tony the Tiger

SPIKED: Public-health advocates are moving in on the one danger we’ve all been missing: cereal-box cartoon characters. That’s right, Tony the Tiger, Cap’n Crunch, Count Chocula, and Snap, Crackle and Pop are all after our children. But, luckily, the European Union, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and Jamie Oliver are here to protect us.

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About Bill Wirtz

Bill Wirtz is policy analyst for the Consumer Choice Center, based in Brussels, Belgium. Originally from Luxembourg, his articles have appeared across the world in English, French, German, and Luxembourgish. He is Editor-in-Chief of Speak Freely, the blog of European Students for Liberty, a contributing editor for the Freedom Today Network and a regular contributor for the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE). He blogs regularly on his website in four languages.

Five reasons to rethink Britain’s public health spending

By Fred Roeder and Chloe Westley

With a combined budget of over 100 million pounds, taxpayers in the United Kingdom are some of the largest contributors to the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) budget. Britain also spends nearly 1 billion pounds on various other bilateral public health initiatives around the globe. Unfortunately, many of these projects are not improving people’s health or dealing with global pandemics. Instead, this money is wasted on inflated and decadent bureaucracies and ideological projects.

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About Fred Roeder

Fred Roder has been working in the field of grassroots activism for over eight years. He is a Health Economist from Germany and has worked in healthcare reform and market access in North America, Europe, and several former Soviet Republics. One of his passions is to analyze how disruptive industries and technologies allow consumers more choice at a lower cost. Fred is very interested in consumer choice and regulatory trends in the following industries: FMCG, Sharing Economy, Airlines. In 2014 he organized a protest in Berlin advocating for competition in the Taxi market. Fred has traveled to 100 countries and is looking forward to visiting the other half of the world’s countries. Among many op-eds and media appearances, he has been published in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Wirtschaftswoche, Die Welt, the BBC, SunTV, ABC Portland News, Montreal Gazette, Handelsblatt, Huffington Post Germany, CityAM. L’Agefi, and The Guardian. Since 2012 he serves as an Associated Researcher at the Montreal Economic Institute.

Plain Packaging is Plain Stupid

SPIKED: It has boosted the black market while failing to stub out smoking rates, writes Bill Wirtz of the Consumer Choice Center.

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About Bill Wirtz

Bill Wirtz is policy analyst for the Consumer Choice Center, based in Brussels, Belgium. Originally from Luxembourg, his articles have appeared across the world in English, French, German, and Luxembourgish. He is Editor-in-Chief of Speak Freely, the blog of European Students for Liberty, a contributing editor for the Freedom Today Network and a regular contributor for the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE). He blogs regularly on his website in four languages.

The Government’s ‘porn passes’ are a turn-off!

COMMENT CENTRAL: Bill Wirtz discusses proposals to require adult users to acquire so-called “porn passes” in stores to verify their age online.

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About Bill Wirtz

Bill Wirtz is policy analyst for the Consumer Choice Center, based in Brussels, Belgium. Originally from Luxembourg, his articles have appeared across the world in English, French, German, and Luxembourgish. He is Editor-in-Chief of Speak Freely, the blog of European Students for Liberty, a contributing editor for the Freedom Today Network and a regular contributor for the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE). He blogs regularly on his website in four languages.

Industry bodies cry foul over TfL plans to ban junk food ads

CAMPAIGN: The policy was blasted by transatlantic anti-regulation campaign group Consumer Choice Center, with managing director Fred Roeder calling it “heavy-handed and paternalistic”.

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About Fred Roeder

Fred Roder has been working in the field of grassroots activism for over eight years. He is a Health Economist from Germany and has worked in healthcare reform and market access in North America, Europe, and several former Soviet Republics. One of his passions is to analyze how disruptive industries and technologies allow consumers more choice at a lower cost. Fred is very interested in consumer choice and regulatory trends in the following industries: FMCG, Sharing Economy, Airlines. In 2014 he organized a protest in Berlin advocating for competition in the Taxi market. Fred has traveled to 100 countries and is looking forward to visiting the other half of the world’s countries. Among many op-eds and media appearances, he has been published in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Wirtschaftswoche, Die Welt, the BBC, SunTV, ABC Portland News, Montreal Gazette, Handelsblatt, Huffington Post Germany, CityAM. L’Agefi, and The Guardian. Since 2012 he serves as an Associated Researcher at the Montreal Economic Institute.