Vaping

So you think you know about black market trade? Here are some myths, debunked

KUALA LUMPUR, July 14 — The global trade in counterfeit and pirated goods is a thriving one, rising from US$461 billion (RM1.9 trillion) in 2013 to US$509 billion in 2016 according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and European Union Intellectual Property Office.

A study commissioned by the Confederation of Malaysian Tobacco Manufacturers (CMTM) member companies showed that in  Malaysia alone, the tobacco black market has grown over the last few years from 36.9 per cent in 2015 to 62.3 per cent in 2019.

At the same time, there is also a rise in counterfeit alcohol, medicine, luxury goods, consumer electronics and even face masks.

The Consumer Choice Center (CCC), a global consumer advocacy group, today urged Malaysian consumers to reject all black market goods.

“The black market is not just about tax losses to the government or infringement of intellectual property rights. It literally puts consumer health and safety in jeopardy,” said Fred Roeder, managing director of CCC.

“In order to stop the black market, consumers, policymakers and legitimate businesses must first understand what the black market is and is not about,” he added.

Myth No.1 – Consumers know that they are buying black market products. 

Roeder said it is not easy to confirm if purchases are genuine, even when bought through trusted sources.

“The majority of online shoppers do not understand the levels of fraud on the internet, nor do they have the software to detect or avoid it. Most think they are just getting a good deal,” he said.

“In the case of illegal cigarettes, it is sometimes hard to tell as the packaging may look the same as the original, inclusive of fake tax stamps.”

Myth No.2 – Black market goods are mainly bought through ‘underground’ channels 

“More and more consumers today are turning to online shopping. A ‘black market’ website looks the same as any other e-commerce platform. In fact, some popular e-commerce brands are also selling counterfeit or black market products,” Roeder said.

“Social distancing and the growth of digital currency are expected to drive the growth of counterfeit and illegal products as we move forward in the new normal.”

Myth No.3 – Only those in the low-income brackets buy black market products

“Black market trade happens at all levels of society. As the black market expands to cover more products, while becoming increasingly available ‘online’, a wider population regardless of age, income and location will be exposed to these products,” he said.

Myth No.4 – Consumers buy black market goods because they are cheaper.

“Price is a key factor, but not the only factor.

“Let’s take illegal cigarette trade as an example. The trade has mushroomed in Malaysia after a significant increase in excise duty in 2015.

“Back then, the market share of illegal cigarettes was around 30 per cent, but now it is 62 per cent. 

“Clearly, consumers are gravitating towards illegal cigarettes that cost only RM4.50 as compared to RM10 of legitimate products.”

He added that convenience and easy access are also contributing factors. Malaysian law prohibits legitimate cigarettes from being sold online which helps to encourage consumers to turn to illegal cigarettes.

“As it can be easily purchased and paid for online… special couriers can deliver these products to their doorsteps,” he said.

To slow down or stop the spread of the black market in Malaysia, CCC advocates a multi-pronged approach involving all relevant stakeholders, from consumers to policymakers, government agencies to corporations.

“What is required immediately is enhanced policies and regulations that take into account current consumer purchasing behaviour and contemporary methods of distribution for perpetrators of black market products,” Roeder said.

CCC will be opening an office in Malaysia soon as part of its efforts to help the Malaysian government counter this growing problem.

“We hope to engage Malaysian consumers and policymakers through education, knowledge and intelligence sharing and positive advocacy to facilitate economic prosperity,” Roeder added. 

Originally published here.


The Consumer Choice Center is the consumer advocacy group supporting lifestyle freedom, innovation, privacy, science, and consumer choice. The main policy areas we focus on are digital, mobility, lifestyle & consumer goods, and health & science.

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

[EU] eureporter – Rat beschliesst Überarbeitung der Tabaksteuerrichtlinie 2011/64/EU

Auf eureporter ist heute ein Beitrag mit dem Titel “New EU rule changes would mean bad news for #Smokers and #Vapers alike” 1 von Bill Wirtz zu lesen, welcher über die Beschlüsse des EU-Rates zur Verbrauchersteuerrichtlinie 2011/64/EU 2 berichtet.

Wie Ende Mai 2020 berichtet 3 fordern viele EU-Mitgliedsstaaten eine Überarbeitung der EU-Tabaksteuerrichtlinie 2011/64/EU. Das Thema war laut Protokoll am 02. Juni 2020 auf dem Tisch. Das Protokoll 4 trägt den hübschen Namen “Council conclusions concerning the structure and rates of excise duty applied to manufactured tobacco – Schlussfolgerungen des Rates betreffend die Struktur und die Sätze der Verbrauchsteuern auf Tabakwaren“. Die wichtigsten Aussagen:

RECOGNISES that the current provisions of Directive 2011/64/EU have become less effective, as they are either no longer sufficient or too narrow to address current and future challenges, concerning some products, such as liquids for e-cigarettes, heated tobacco products and other types of next-generation products, which are entering the market;

ERKENNT AN, dass die derzeitigen Bestimmungen der Richtlinie 2011/64/EU weniger wirksam geworden sind, da sie entweder nicht mehr ausreichen oder zu eng gefasst sind, um den derzeitigen und künftigen Herausforderungen in Bezug auf einige Produkte, wie Flüssigkeiten für E-Zigaretten, Tabakerhitzer und andere Arten von Produkten der nächsten Generation, die auf den Markt kommen, zu begegnen;

REITERATES that it is therefore urgent and necessary to upgrade the EU regulatory framework, in order to tackle current and future challenges in respect of the functioning of the internal market by harmonising definitions and tax treatment of novel products (such as liquids for e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products), including products, whether or not containing nicotine, that substitute tobacco, in order to avoid legal uncertainty and regulatory disparities in the EU, taking into account the relevant good practices and experience gained by Member States in this area, and, where appropriate, the objectives of Directive 2011/64/EU, which also includes the objective that the various types of tobacco products, distinguished by their characteristics and by the way in which they are used, should be defined

BEKRÄFTIGT, dass es daher dringend und notwendig ist, den Regelungsrahmen der EU zu verbessern, um die derzeitigen und künftigen Herausforderungen in Bezug auf das Funktionieren des Binnenmarktes zu bewältigen, indem die Definitionen und die steuerliche Behandlung neuartiger Produkte (wie Flüssigkeiten für E-Zigaretten und Tabakerhitzer), einschließlich nikotinhaltiger und nikotinfreier Ersatzprodukte, harmonisiert werden, zur Vermeidung von Rechtsunsicherheit und regulatorischen Unterschieden in der EU, unter Berücksichtigung der einschlägigen bewährten Verfahren und der von den Mitgliedstaaten in diesem Bereich gesammelten Erfahrungen sowie gegebenenfalls der Ziele der Richtlinie 2011/64/EU, die auch das Ziel umfasst, dass die verschiedenen Arten von Tabakerzeugnissen, die sich durch ihre Merkmale und die Art und Weise ihrer Verwendung unterscheiden, definiert werden sollten

Im Klartext: den EU-Mitgliedsstaaten ist die Tabaksteuer nicht genug, nein der EU-Rat fordert eine “Tabaksteuer” auf Nicht-Tabakprodukte wie die E-Zigarette, egal ob mit oder ohne Nikotin!

Bill Wirtz dazu in dem Artikel:

This would make it hard for member states to pretend that the objective is public health and not reducing treasury deficits, as the logical equivalent of this move would be to classify non-alcoholic as an alcoholic beverage.

Dies würde es den Mitgliedsstaaten schwer machen, so zu tun, als sei das Ziel die öffentliche Gesundheit und nicht die Verringerung der Haushaltsdefizite, da das logische Äquivalent dieses Schrittes darin bestünde, Nichtalkoholisches als alkoholisches Getränk einzustufen.

Wie absurd ist das denn? Produkte die Rauchern erwiesenermaßen dabei helfen das Rauchen aufzugeben 5 mit einer “Sündensteuer” zu belegen, nur um die Finanzen aufzupolieren?
Dabei zeigt ein Negativ-Beispiel 6 aus den USA, dass eine Verbrauchersteuer auf E-Dampfprodukte dazu führt, dass zum einen die Menschen glauben, E-Dampfprodukte seien genauso schädlich wie Tabakzigaretten und zum anderen erhöht sich im gleichen Zuge der Absatz von Tabakwaren.

Bill Wirtz fragt zu recht in dem Artikel, wie ernst es den EU-Mitgliedsstaaten eigentlich mit der Verbesserung der öffentlichen Gesundheit sei, wenn sie auf einer der Präventionsmethoden (E-Zigarette) die Steuerlast für Verbraucher erhöhe? Dabei sollten die Konsequenzen klar sein: eine Erhöhung der Steuerlast korreliere automatisch damit, dass sich gefährliche Schwarzmärkte bilden und damit die Verbraucher kriminalisiert, sowie gesundheitlichen Gefahren ausgesetzt werden.

Laut dem Autor sind die vom EU-Rat vorgeschlagenen Änderungen an der Tabakrichtlinie kontraproduktiv für die öffentliche Gesundheit und schränken die Wahlmöglichkeiten der Verbraucher massiv ein. Solche Regeländerungen sollten immer auch auf voraussichtliche Ergebnisse hin analysiert werden und nicht nur auf ihre zugrundeliegenden Absichten.

Originally published here.


The Consumer Choice Center is the consumer advocacy group supporting lifestyle freedom, innovation, privacy, science, and consumer choice. The main policy areas we focus on are digital, mobility, lifestyle & consumer goods, and health & science.

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

New EU rule changes would mean bad news for #Smokers and #Vapers alike

In its conclusions in June, the European Council approved a new consensus on excise duties on tobacco. The member states suggest rule changes that would increase the price of tobacco, and equally affect non-tobacco products such as e-cigarettes, writes Bill Wirtz. 

Since 2011, the European Union has had a common minimum excise duty on tobacco products, which notably increased the price of cigarettes in those European countries where the prices are comparatively low. Neighbouring countries with higher taxes were claiming that the prevalence of cross-border purchases was subverting their own public health goals. For instance, German commuters buy tobacco in Luxembourg, as the price is lower than in their local shops.

Now that the 2011 directive has not yielded the benefits that some member states expected, or more plausibly, hasn’t produced the number of tax revenues that member states need in the current economic situation, they would like a revision. This revision, however, is not only targeting conventional tobacco products such as cigarettes, snuff, shisha, or cigars and cigarillos. For the first time, the European Council is asking for non-tobacco products also to be included in the… tobacco excise directive. This would make it hard for member states to pretend that the objective is public health and not reducing treasury deficits, as the logical equivalent of this move would be to classify non-alcoholic as an alcoholic beverage.

E-cigarettes or heat-not-burn devices represent viable alternatives for consumers of conventional tobacco products. We know that while not harmless, vaping is 95% less harmful than smoking cigarettes. By every available logic, governments should rejoice in the prevalence of these alternatives. However, the European Council concludes that “it is therefore urgent and necessary to upgrade the EU regulatory framework, to tackle current and future challenges in respect of the functioning of the internal market by harmonising definitions and tax treatment of novel products (such as liquids for e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products), including products, whether or not containing nicotine, that substitute tobacco, to avoid legal uncertainty and regulatory disparities in the EU”.

Adding excise taxes to reduced risk products sends the wrong signal to consumers that these products are just as risky as cigarettes. Research from the United States shows that every 10% increase in the price of vaping products results in an 11% increase in cigarettes purchases.

How serious are EU member states about increasing public health if their go-to method of prevention is raising the tax burden on consumers? E-cigarettes are one thing, but we should not disillusion ourselves with the idea that taxing cigarettes more does anyone any good either. The Council conclusions themselves recognize that Europe is facing a wave of the illicit tobacco trade, and asks for more solutions to fight it. Illegal trade correlates with increased tax burdens: by taxing low-income households out of cigarettes, which remain a legal product nonetheless, we are pushing them on the black market, where criminal elements profit off of bad public health management. In France for instance, a 2015 report found the country to be Europe’s largest consumer of fake cigarettes, with 15 per cent of the market share.

With a lack of quality control, these illegal smokes represent are much more endemic threat to consumer health. Adding to that, the revenues from the sale of these cigarettes benefits international terrorism — the French Centre d’analyse du terrorisme (Centre for Terrorism Analysis) even showed that illicit tobacco sales finance 20 per cent of international terrorism. Organizations such as the IRA, Al-Qaida and ISIS fund their activities that way.

The European Council’s suggested changes to the Tobacco Excise Directive is counterproductive to the goals of public health, and are set to reduce consumer choice and health. We need to analyse rule-changes for more than just their intentions, but look at their prospective results.

Originally published here.


The Consumer Choice Center is the consumer advocacy group supporting lifestyle freedom, innovation, privacy, science, and consumer choice. The main policy areas we focus on are digital, mobility, lifestyle & consumer goods, and health & science.

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

Our Laws Save Lives

UK-style laws could convert more than 200 million smokers to vaping worldwide, according to research by the Consumer Choice Center. It says its findings reveal the potential for 76 million people to switch away from tobacco products in China alone.

The Consumer Choice Center looked at 61 countries and highlighted that the United Kingdom’s approach to vape advertising, displays, and tax rate is an example the rest of the world should be following.

Managing Director Fred Roeder said: “We used the UK’s progressive tobacco harm reduction policies as a reference point and estimated how many current smokers could be helped to switch by having a more permissive vaping framework. In China, 76 million people could switch. The US (6 million) and Germany (4 million) would also see huge public health benefits by emulating the UK’s approach.”

The Consumer Choice Center has drawn criticism from Bloomberg-funded organisations due to its links to American libertarian organisations and individuals. Typically, Bath University’s Tobacco Tactics focusses on the messenger and not the message.

Laughably, it accuses the centre of hosting “three strongly biased roundtables” in 2018, to discuss the World Health Organisation’s shortcomings “and how the WHO actively blocks healthier technologies in the area of harm reduction”. This from a group of people tied to a disgraceful campaign of misinformation and lies, smears, and half truths about vaping and tobacco harm reduction.

Deeply upsetting to those pocketing Michael Bloomberg’s millions, “none of the invited speakers had public health qualifications.”

And what did they object to? Was it Christopher Snowdon speaking about the “Public Funding of Public Health Activists”, Daniel Pryor talking about “How the UK can become a leader in tobacco harm reduction”, or Professor David Zaruk highlighting, “How evidence based policies are sabotaged by those who ought enforce them”?

Sharing of political ideals isn’t required in order to examine the evidence surrounding vaping or discussing the actions of public health bodies. Is it a prerequisite when applying for funding from Bloomberg Philanthropies?

The Consumer Choice Center’s affiliations are irrelevant in this context. Maybe Bath should address the findings instead of dismissing them because of the author?

Originally published here.


The Consumer Choice Center is the consumer advocacy group supporting lifestyle freedom, innovation, privacy, science, and consumer choice. The main policy areas we focus on are digital, mobility, lifestyle & consumer goods, and health & science.

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

Ga. legislature approves imposing 7% tax on vaping products

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — A bill that would impose a 7% excise tax on vaping products sold in Georgia now sits on the governor’s desk.

On June 26, the state Senate gave its final approval in a 45-8 vote of Senate Bill 375, following the House’s vote of 123-33 on June 25.

The bill would also allow only adults aged 21 and older to purchase vaping products in Georgia. 

“Convenience stores and gas stations are routinely selling these items to children, they had no reason to enforce the law because they didn’t have anything to lose except the sale itself,” said State Rep. Bonnie Rich, R-Suwanee, whose portion of the bill required any seller of vape products in Georgia to have a license from the Department of Revenue.

“Now, in order to have the right to sell, they’re going to have to follow the law and they’re going to have the Department of Revenue investigators kind of looking over their shoulders,” Rich told WSAV.com NOW.

In another effort to further protect youth from accessing vaping products, Senate Bill 375 also notes that no one, including adults or teachers, is allowed to have vape or tobacco products in school safety zones.

The bill’s 7% excise tax would be the first tax on vaping products in Georgia.

“The goal here was to put these vape products on par with the tobacco products, as the tobacco industry has, for a very long time, been paying excise taxes,” Rich said.

“It’s an issue of fairness to require these other nicotine delivery systems to pay an excise tax, as well, similar to what we did with respect to Airbnb and hotels, and Uber and taxis,” she said.

Nelson Hill, general sales manager of the Savannah-based Vape Loft, tells WSAV.com NOW that he believes the tax is fair. 

“We’re pretty happy with that,” Hill said. “We’re lucky to live in a state like Georgia where they don’t hate vaping; I think that there’s a lot of miseducation and misunderstanding about it.”

He says he doesn’t feel the tax would prevent his customers from enjoying vaping products.

“There’s money off some of these taxations that pay for and produce a lot of things that we need, like schoolbooks, and that’s where a lot of this tax money from Big Tobacco comes from,” Hill said, adding, “So with vaping, I think they’re just trying to figure out a place where they can use some of our tax money to help produce good, as well.”

The excise tax on vaping products could potentially raise between $9.6 million and $14.5 million in revenue.

Yaël Ossowski, deputy director of the Consumer Choice Center, says that the vaping tax would come at the expense of poor consumers and could push many Georgians back to traditional cigarette use, which would have a detrimental impact on public health.

“Vaping products don’t exist just for fun, these exist because they give an alternative to former smokers who want to quit, so because people have this option, they’re actually able to improve their life, they’re actually able to live longer,” Ossowski told WSAV.com NOW.

He says such a tax is almost like penalizing people for making a “more responsible decision.”

“People who have transitioned away from traditional tobacco products are now going to have to pay more for exactly what they bought yesterday, and the entire idea of this is that we need to raise money, but it’s really a drop in the bucket,” Ossowski said.

“If we look at what’s happening at the state level, there’s a lot of money in the rainy day fund, and we really think that trying to increase costs for consumers — specifically poor consumers — who are trying to make a better option for their lives is really unfair,” he said.

Now that the House has passed Senate Bill 375 and the Senate has made its final approval, Gov. Brian Kemp has until early August to decide whether to veto it or sign it into law.

“After those 40 days, if he does nothing, then the bill will go into effect; however, he also has the option of signing the bill within that 40-day period, which is kind of signaling that he really supports it,” Rich said.

The cigarette tax in Georgia remains the same at 37 cents per pack — one of the lowest cigarette tax rates in the country.

Originally published here.


The Consumer Choice Center is the consumer advocacy group supporting lifestyle freedom, innovation, privacy, science, and consumer choice. The main policy areas we focus on are digital, mobility, lifestyle & consumer goods, and health & science.

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

For each day of cigarette ban, South Africa loses 1.5 community clinics

It is unfortunate that President Cyril Ramaphosa did not use his 17 June announcement of modifications to South Africa’s level 3 lockdown as an opportunity to end the ill-considered ban on tobacco and related products.

Appropriately, on the same day, Africa Check confirmed that the government is losing around R35 million per day in excise taxes for tobacco products. South Africa is now one of the 20 most-affected countries by COVID-19 and case numbers keep rising. The tobacco sales ban will burden the health system with even more problems. Hence it’s time to stop this well-intended but harmful policy.

Ramaphosa claimed his silence on tobacco trading was because the matter is before court. But this was disingenuous. Over the last months, the government at multiple junctures changed lockdown regulations that were in the process of being challenged in court, likely in an attempt to save face. With the Gauteng High Court having dismissed the Fair Trade Independent Tobacco Association’s application to have the ban set aside, little stands in the way of government taking the initiative and doing away with this detrimental regulation that neither serves government’s nor consumers’ interests.

If it does not do so, it would defy belief that finance minister Tito Mboweni warned of the dangers of a cash-strapped government during the COVID-19 emergency budget while government persists with this fiscally irresponsible policy.

The amount of money lost in tobacco excise taxes government collects daily due to the ban is at least R35 million. This is not a mere number. Quantifying the opportunity costs to the South African economy that will occur once government grants South African Airways a contemplated R10.3 billion bailout, economist Jacques Jonker made some interesting calculations. A RDP house in South Africa is valued at around R158,000. An environmentally-friendly community clinic costs about R24.5 million. On those numbers alone, it seems that the state is losing what amounts to 30 RDP houses or 1.5 green clinics every day the cigarette ban continues.

Smoking legal tobacco products is not good for people’s health, but the sales ban did not stop people from smoking. Consumption has instead shifted to cigarettes purchased on the black market.

In the best case, this means just lost excise tax revenues for the government. Unfortunately, many cigarettes sold illegally do not come from legal manufacturers but from bad actors selling counterfeit sticks. Indeed, the counterfeit trade in South Africa has grown considerably since the lockdown began, according to Yusuf Abramjee. These products did not undergo any safety or quality tests and are much more harmful than legal products, potentially containing pesticides, arsenic, and rat poison.

On top of that, illegal street vendors do not comply with any health and safety or social distancing requirements. By banning the legal sales of cigarettes the government does, therefore, cause more harm than doing good.

But health is not and cannot be the only measure of an individual’s interests.

It is true that South Africa’s healthcare system is not up to standard, but that is no reason to keep cigarette sales banned. It is opportunistic and heavy-handed to use the government’s own historical shortcomings in building an efficient healthcare sector to justify curbing South Africans’ constitutional freedoms. It is also offensive to the Rule of Law, which requires reasonableness and impartiality in governance, not self-serving politicking.

It is also worth noting particularly with reference to COVID-19, however, that the danger to people with nicotine in their bodies – smokers – is less than the danger to others. The research in this regard ought not be ignored, as doing so has already caused government to enact policy that might see more people hospitalised for smoking counterfeit cigarettes. Keeping up the ban will cause an additional burden to South Africa’s hospitals, which is especially concerning given the rising numbers of COVID-19 cases in the country.

The continued ban on tobacco and related products is evidently irrational and counterproductive. It does not serve government, which as Mboweni’s emergency budget confirmed, is losing billions in revenue. It does not serve ordinary South Africans, who have certainly not stopped smoking but have turned to potentially dangerous, but available, cigarettes. And it does not serve the fight against COVID-19, as persons with nicotine in their bodies are at least at no greater risk for exposure, and at best have a smaller risk to contract the virus.

Originally published here.


The Consumer Choice Center is the consumer advocacy group supporting lifestyle freedom, innovation, privacy, science, and consumer choice. The main policy areas we focus on are digital, mobility, lifestyle & consumer goods, and health & science.

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

Lawmakers Approve Vaping Tax, Raises Age For Tobacco Products To 21

The Senate Finance Committee on Friday passed a measure to raise the tobacco tax in Georgia from 37 cents per pack to $1.35.

Lawmakers on the last day of the legislative session passed a bill taxing vaping products for the first time and raising the age to purchase tobacco products to 21.

The move, when signed by Gov. Brian Kemp, means an estimated $9.6 million and $14.5 million in extra revenue for the state. However, that is far less than the $600 million that was left on the table by not increasing the sales tax on cigarettes, according to the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute, or GBPI.

Georgia ranks 48th out of 50 for the lowest cigarette tax in the nation.

“If we just assessed that fee of $1.80 on vaping and cigarettes that would raise $600 million a year and just make us average in the nation,” GBPI analyst Danny Kanso said.

That’s because a bill to raise the tobacco tax in Georgia from 37 cents per pack to $1.35 stalled even after passing the Senate Finance Committee last Friday.

Sen. Chuck Hufstetler, who chairs the finance committee, talked about the cuts with GPB’s Bill Nigut on Political Rewind on Thursday morning.

“It’s not just money, it’s health care, too,” he said. “And I just don’t understand why our state doesn’t move forward in that.”

Opponents to the vaping tax said communities of color and lower-income Georgians will be most affected.

Yaël Ossowski, deputy director of the Consumer Choice Center, said such a significant vaping tax will come at the expense of poor consumers, and may push smokers across the state back to combustible products.

But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and public health organizations around the nation have been investigating illnesses related to vaping since last year. At least six Georgians have died from severe lung disease due to vaping, according to the Department of Public Health.

Dr. Saranya Selvaraj said she will never forget how school-aged children watched as their mother’s lung cancer metastasized to her brain before she died. The woman was only in her 50s.

“You go through chemo. You’re in the hospital. You’re on oxygen. You’re in hospice, and it’s a really long, drawn out process that involves a lot of pain,” Selvaraj said. “And then, eventually, you’re just separated from your family by death.”

She said thousands of similar deaths are completely preventable.

The doctor, who treats patients across the metro Atlanta area, said roughly 80 to 90% of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease cases are directly related to tobacco products. If people stopped smoking, they would see health benefits and long-term savings, Selvaraj said.

“In the long run, if we’re able to use the money on the tobacco tax to help fund tobacco-cessation programs (and)  tobacco-use prevention programs, we are going to help keep people in these communities have longer, healthier lives and save money,” she said.

Originally published here.


The Consumer Choice Center is the consumer advocacy group supporting lifestyle freedom, innovation, privacy, science, and consumer choice. The main policy areas we focus on are digital, mobility, lifestyle & consumer goods, and health & science.

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

Piden a AMLO reconsiderar la prohibición de cigarrillos electrónicos

CIUDAD DE MÉXICO (apro).—El Centro para la Elección de los Consumidores (CCC, por su siglas en inglés) hizo un llamado al gobierno de Andrés Manuel López Obrador a reconsiderar la prohibición de la importación y exportación de vaporizadores, a través de un decreto emitido el pasado 19 de febrero.

De acuerdo con la organización dicha medida va en contra de la necesidad de regular el mercado de dichos productos y, por el contrario, fomenta la distribución y venta de artículos ilegales, a través de cárteles y el crimen organizado.

El CCC, promotor de mercados reguladores en sector como alimentos, transportación y salud, alertó que las consecuencias de la disposición presidencial no terminan en el fomento de un mercado ilícito de sustancias y dispositivos de dudosa calidad, sino en el impacto que tendrán en los consumidores mexicanos.

“Ante la imposibilidad de comprar artículos legales y regulados, podrían caer en las garras de contrabandistas y adquirir productos que podrían provocarles enfermedades pulmonares e incluso la muerte, tal como sucedió en Estados Unidos en la segunda mitad del año pasado”, señaló en un comunicado.

Al respecto, la CCC recordó que la propia autoridad sanitaria de Estados Unidos afirmó categóricamente que la intoxicación y muertes de varios usuarios de cigarros electrónicos obedeció a la vaporización de líquidos ilícitos de THC provenientes del mercado negro.

Es decir, no respondió a la actividad propia del vapeo, sino al uso de sustancias prohibidas, lo cual podría ocurrir en México ante la negativa del gobierno por regular los vaporizadores, con todo y que se ha demostrado científicamente que son una auténtica opción para dejar el consumo de cigarros tradicionales.

Sobre este punto, la organización internacional destacó que el principal organismo de salud del Reino Unido, Public Health England, ha afirmado repetidas veces que el vapeo y el consumo de los cigarrillos electrónicos son un 95% menos perjudiciales que fumar, por lo cual los vaporizadores son parte de una política pública para combatir el tabaquismo en esa región.

La organización exhortó al gobierno mexicano a “impulsar la legalidad, escuchar las diferentes posturas y promover mercados regulados, con el objetivo de que los consumidores tengan acceso a productos de calidad y que no atenten en contra de su integridad”.

Además insistió en que el decreto presidencial mencionado causará exactamente lo que está tratando de prevenir: Más enfermedades pulmonares y constituirse en un programa de estímulo para los cárteles y el crimen organizado.

Originally published here.

Cigarette and alcohol bans are unprecedented and misguided

The cigarette ban has polarised South Africans. Picture: iStock/Gallo Images

Policies that were intended to make a public health crisis more manageable could end up adding fuel to the fire and be the last straw for the health system to collapse.


While South Africa’s alcohol ban has been partially relaxed, smokers and vapers are still being deprived of purchasing both cigarettes and e-liquids.

What was first a temporary health measure in March, during the early days of the lockdown, has now moved well beyond temporary and is actively infringing on South African’s freedom to choose.

Luckily, South Africa has not been one of the worst countries hit by Covid-19. That said, the country’s public policy response to fully ban the sale of alcohol and nicotine is one of the most heavy-handed in the world.

As a nicotine consumer in the United Kingdom, one of the most impacted countries globally, I was always able to go to my local corner store and purchase new vape cartridges or a pack of cigarettes. In normal times, these products are a nice distraction from a stressful day.

During an unprecedented lockdown, it played an important role in keeping me sane, allowing me to deal with the reality of having my movement limited, something that billions of people experienced for the first time.

In reflecting on my ability to purchase these products during the pandemic, it becomes quite clear that SA President Cyril Ramaphosa’s bans were a massive overreach. The ban was justified by the president under the banner of public health, but wasbased on flawed science.

While Ramaphosa justified the ban to protect the respiratory systems of South Africans, nicotine consumption might actually be beneficial to patients as it might prevent and reduce the likelihood of strong Covid-19 symptoms. Against scientific evidence, he and his health minister stated that smokers would benefit from the ban and announced an extension of the ban.

It looks like this policy had more to do with forcing smokers to quit cold turkey, than having anything to do with Covid-19.

And, while consumers and retailers in South Africa suffer from this government overreach, organised crime and the black market flourish.

Global networks, such as BBC and CNN, featured stories about booming alcohol and cigarette black market businesses in times of lockdowns, which acted as a real stimulus programme for illegal dealers.

When walking in my local grocery store in London, I see significant efforts from staff to keep the place clean, have as little interaction with clients, and keep physical contact to a minimum. All of this helps to reduce the spread of the virus.

Illegal dealers don’t comply with public health recommendations to help stop the spread of the virus because they are already engaging in illegal acts. Banning the sale of these products doesn’t mean that South Africans won’t be buying them, it just means that they won’t be getting them in safe, legal settings. An increase in black market activity puts more citizens at risk for spreading the virus, which is a losing scenario for everyone involved.

The danger from increased demand for illegal cigarettes or bootleg alcohol doesn’t end with the spread of the virus. Poor, and often dangerous, product quality could further strain South Africa’s public health system. We know from decades of observation that black market products are far riskier for consumers.

While committing these illegal acts, dealers and producers almost always cut corners, which just exacerbates the existing public health concerns that exist for alcohol and nicotine.

Simply put, in trying to stop South Africans from consuming alcohol or nicotine, Ramaphosa has pushed his citizens into the hands of criminal actors, and the dangerous products that they sell.

Policies that were intended to make a public health crisis more manageable could end up adding fuel to the fire and be the last straw for the health system to collapse.

South Africa should end the ban on product sales as soon as possible and follow countries like the UK, Brazil, Canada or Germany and legalise the sale of nicotine products.

– Fred Roeder is managing director of the Consumer Choice Center, a consumer advocacy group that has received funding from the tobacco, cannabis, energy, consumer goods and vaping industries.

Originally published here.


The Consumer Choice Center is the consumer advocacy group supporting lifestyle freedom, innovation, privacy, science, and consumer choice. The main policy areas we focus on are digital, mobility, lifestyle & consumer goods, and health & science.

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

Prohibition and paternalism are always wrong, especially in a pandemic

Canada, in contrast to South Africa, responded to Covid-19 by ensuring that Canadians would continue to have access to alcohol, nicotine, and even cannabis during the lockdown. Ontario also allowed cannabis retailers to offer kerbside pick-up and delivery options.

David Clement and Martin van Staden – The recent full-scale lockdown is something that most people experienced for the first time in their lives. Countries like Canada and the United Kingdom, hit harder by Covid-19, enacted public policy that attempted to keep life as normal as possible by expanding consumer choice to compensate for the disruption. South Africa, in contrast, made the reality of the lockdown leaps and bounds worse by preventing consumer access to alcohol and nicotine, which drove consumers to the black market and forced addicts into withdrawal amidst a pandemic.

The continued prohibition on cigarette (and even e-cigarette) sales – alcohol is being sold freely again – is now being heard in court. South Africa is one of only three countries, the others being India and Botswana, to ban cigarettes during its lockdown. Government has asked, should the court find Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma’s regulations to be unlawful, that the matter be referred back to her for reconsideration rather than declaring them void.

Canada, in comparison to South Africa, responded to the pandemic by expanding consumer choice, and ensuring that Canadians would continue to have access to alcohol, nicotine, and even cannabis during the lockdown. Ontario, which is Canada’s largest province, declared convenience stores essential businesses, allowing them to operate from the start of the lockdown onward. This ensured that residents could still have access to nicotine products.

For alcohol, Ontario declared their state-owned liquor stores were essential, mandated that they remain open throughout the lockdown, and even went so far as to liberalise the hours of sale to offer consumers more choice and to avoid overcrowding. In addition, the Ontario government allowed for restaurants to offer alcohol with their food order deliveries, something that was previously prohibited. The province even did the same for cannabis retailers, allowing them to remain open by offering consumers kerbside pick-up and delivery options.

South Africa enacted its alcohol and tobacco/nicotine ban under the mantra of public health and protecting the healthcare system. This is a problematic approach for a few reasons. The first is that a full ban on these products recreates prohibition, which puts consumer safety at risk when consumers seek these products in the illegal market. Consumers accessing dangerous black-market products run the risk of increasing hospitalisations.

It will no doubt be argued that South Africa is unlike Canada. There is an underdeveloped healthcare system which has come under unbearable strain during the Covid-19 pandemic, and our population suffers from a host of ailments not easily found in the West, particularly tuberculosis. This, to some, means the drastic limitations imposed on personal freedoms here are justified.

The horrific stories of a man from Brakpan and a couple from Port Nolloth dying after consuming unsafe, homemade alcohol are illustrative of the consequences of prohibition. The proximate cause of their deaths might have been the dangerous substances they consumed, but the source of the problem was the government’s insistence that it knew best. The social contract never included an agreement that it was acceptable for the government to use a pandemic to paternalistically ban otherwise legal products. As a result, citizens have continued to, and will continue to, buy those products whether they are prohibited or not.

To make matters worse, South Africa’s approach flew in the face of harm reduction by also banning the sale of vaping products, which are 95% less harmful than traditional tobacco products. Not only has the government of South Africa pushed consumers into the hands of the black market, it has also banned one of the most successful smoking cessation tools available to consumers. If the goal of banning products is to protect public health, the last thing that should be banned is reduced risk cessation tools like vaping.

But the ban on vaping does not depart from the South African government’s already well-known paternalistic opposition to this alternative to smoking. The facts will not be allowed to stand in the way of political ideology and alliances.

It will no doubt be argued that South Africa is unlike Canada. There is an underdeveloped healthcare system which has come under unbearable strain during the Covid-19 pandemic, and our population suffers from a host of ailments not easily found in the West, particularly tuberculosis. This, to some, means the drastic limitations imposed on personal freedoms here are justified.

But a study in 28 countries found that there are fewer smokers, who presumably have weaker lungs, among Covid-19 hospitalisations than non-smokers. Research indicating that nicotine might in some way be inhibiting the spread of Covid-19 has hardly been limited to a single, vested interest source, but has come from all over. Nicotine, in other words, may help ensure that one does not contract the virus. If a smoker does end up being hospitalised for Covid-19, however, then there is certainly a greater risk.

Moreover, the overstretched and hopelessly inadequate public healthcare system is the government’s own making. Not only has the government historically done everything in its power to waste the money taxpayers have paid over to it through inefficiency, corruption, and incompetence, but the government has also let the lockdown, which was intended to allow for capacity-building, go to waste.

Rumours of another billion-rand bailout for South African Airways, or the establishment of another doomed national airline, should leave no room for doubt in the minds of our critics that the government has had, and currently has, the resources to run a tight ship in its healthcare system. It is by corrupt choice, and the lack of market-driven incentives, that this does not materialise. The constitutional freedoms South Africans are endowed with should not fall victim to the desire to give a malicious government “another chance”.

In 2017, Canada ranked 8th highest in the world for respecting the economic freedom of citizens. It is this deference to adults who can make their own decisions that, over the years enabled Canada and other countries in the top quintile of economic freedom to have economies and societies capacitated enough to deal with Covid-19. 

South Africa, ranked a poor 101st in the same index, has through its policy choices dug its own grave. It’s never too late to course-correct, but this requires paternalistic attitudes to be abandoned. 

Originally published here.


The Consumer Choice Center is the consumer advocacy group supporting lifestyle freedom, innovation, privacy, science, and consumer choice. The main policy areas we focus on are digital, mobility, lifestyle & consumer goods, and health & science.

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

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