An overload of warning labels desensitises the public

Does slapping a warning label on every single item we buy in the shops really make us more aware of potential risks, or are we running into an overprotection of the individual?

In an effort to protect public health, the World Health Organization (WHO) is calling for more comprehensive warning labels on things like alcohol. Numerous working documents praise the usefulness of warning labels in a society in which the risks of alcohol aren’t understood by everyone. Needless to say that EU member states are already going at it when it comes to accessibility : alcohol is hit with excise taxes, special alcohol taxes, VAT, minimum alcohol pricing, sales restrictions limited in time and place, bans on consumption in public places. In Nordic countries, the sale of alcohol is completely in government hands, and expensive to a degree that it impacts tourism.

Alcohol isn’t the only product targeted by public health activists : food products containing sugar and fat should also be hit by marketing restrictions and with health labelling, if all was going according to regulators and those pretending to know better. In France, you cannot even run an ad for crisps without the obligation to point out that salty food can be bad for you, read in the same voice and speed of a pharma-ad disclaimer. « Mind the gap », « smoking kills », « avoid sugary food and exercise » : you can’t help but wonder at what point we’ll become desensitised towards health warnings.

When it comes to labelling, public health advocates are quick to point to a number of studies proving the effectiveness of a particular health warning, be that text of picture. However, this assumes that the warning is already being looked at, which is not self-evident. Just like in the case of medicine : for a drug to be effective, it seems obvious that the patient will have to take it in the first place. Take the example of this 2018 study, which sets the amount of respondents which were actually aware of the warning labels for alcohol.

“Eye-tracking identified that 60% of participants looked at the current in market alcohol warning label […]. The current study casts doubt on dominant practices (largely self-report), which have been used to evaluate alcohol warning labels. Awareness cannot be used to assess warning label effectiveness in isolation in cases where attention does not occur 100% of the time.”

These are people who purchased the product and were actually not aware of what the warning label said. The question is of course : how can that be ? How is it possible that people ignore the warning label ?

The WHO working document “Alcohol labelling A discussion document on policy options” points towards the necessity of good design when it comes to warning labels. It says :

“There are four message components that may be considered when developing an effective health label, each serving a different purpose: (i) signal word to attract attention; (ii) identification of the problem; (iii) explanation of the consequences if exposed to the problem; and (iv) instructions for avoiding the problem. The visual impact of the label can be enhanced by using large, bold print; high contrast; colour; borders; and pictorial symbols.”

But bad design cannot be the only explanation for decreased awareness. Take the example of safety instructions on aeroplanes. Frequent flyers will know : after up to 2 flights a week, they become completely unnoticeable. An inflation of warning labels can desensitise those supposed to be aware of them, because of a lack of nuance. The messages « coffee can be bad for your health » and « smoking cigarettes can be bad for your health » don’t set a hierarchy of health hazards. In fact, sat next to each other both messages could imply that both are equally damaging. We should try not to make health warnings trivial : if they become less meaningful to consumers, we run the risk that important health warnings are actually ignored.

Originally published at https://www.europeanscientist.com/en/features/an-overload-of-warning-labels-desensitises-the-public/

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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.

WHO’s afraid of vaping?

For the second time in two years, I sat in the public gallery at a United Nations conference in Geneva as a senior UN bureaucrat told us that all members of the media and public were barred from the proceedings, writes Yael Ossowski for Spiked. This particular occasion was one of the UN’s biannual sessions to update the World Health Organisation’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

The FCTC is the first global-health treaty enacted by WHO. It has been ratified by 181 countries and forms the basis of a number of national laws across the globe, such as tobacco taxes, advertising restrictions, and plain cigarette packaging.

Each biannual meeting is a taxpayer-financed talkfest, dominated by various health ministries and anti-tobacco organisations like the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and the Framework Convention Alliance, who are not only granted ‘observer status’, but also intervene in the large plenary debates and use their platform to shame the delegates of any country that doesn’t adopt a prohibitionist attitude toward tobacco.

Though the conference claims to be about science and public health, it is anything but.

For instance, new vaping and e-cigarette technologies are the most popular stop-smoking aids in England, used by 1.2million Brits according to the latest government figures. A Public Health England report says that vaping can reduce health risks by 95 and can increase the chances of quitting smoking by up to 50%.

But the arguments for vaping are dismissed by WHO as ‘unfounded’ and ‘inconclusive’. One top NGO said parties at the meeting should ‘refrain from engaging in lengthy and inconclusive discussion’ on alternative nicotine products like vaping.

Vaping activists had tried to attend the conference to share their stories of how they quit smoking. Volunteers from the International Network of Nicotine Consumer Organisations proudly blew clouds of water vapour outside the conference’s doors. Unlike the more prohibitionist NGOs, they were denied observer status.

The clear anti-vaping bias led to some absurd claims.

Anne Bucher, director-general of the EU’s Health and Food Safety Directorate, was adamant that, despite containing no tobacco, vaping and e-cigarette devices should be considered ‘tobacco products’, subject to all the same laws, restrictions, and bans.

The treaty itself sought to enforce the same restrictions on vaping and e-cigarettes as cigarettes and cigars. This could actually hamper people’s ability to quit smoking.

Another object of hate was the media. Delegates from countries including China, Zimbabwe, the Maldives and Uganda claimed the entire conference should take place without media or public scrutiny. ‘What we’re dealing with is the mafia’, said the delegate from Afghanistan, referring to the public sat in the gallery above.

A representative from Chad lamented that more people did not know about the FCTC meeting and its impact. In the same breath, he argued in favour of kicking out the public and media after the opening plenary.

It was a bizarre and Orwellian conference. The proposals that emerged in the name of protecting public health could seriously set back the improvements in public-health that have come about thanks to alternatives to cigarettes like vaping, e-cigarettes and snus.

One thing became clear: innovative products, new markets and the much hated ‘industry’ were doing more to bring about better health outcomes than the UN’s supranational health bureaucracy.

* Yaël Ossowski is a Canadian journalist and deputy director of the Consumer Choice Center.

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About Yaël Ossowski

Yaël Ossowski is a journalist, activist, and writer. He's currently deputy director at the Consumer Choice Center, and senior development officer for Students For Liberty. He was previously a national investigative reporter and chief Spanish translator at Watchdog.org, and worked at newspapers and television stations across the country. He received a Master’s Degree in Philosophy, Politics, Economics (PPE) at the CEVRO Institute in Prague. Born in Québec and raised in the southern United States, he currently lives in Vienna, Austria.

Monthly update: October 2018

DIGITAL SINGLE MARKET CAMPAIGN

On 10 October, the CCC’s Luca Bertoletti and Bill Wirtz handed the Consumer Choice Center’s Digital Single Market research paper to the European Commission’s Head of E-Commerce.

TESTIMONY ON ONTARIO’S CANNABIS RULES

On 12 October, the CCC’s David Clement testified at the Ontario Standing Committee on Social Policy to provide comments on Bill 36, the province’s cannabis regulations.

CAPITOL HILL BRIEFING ON FDA REFORM

On 18 October, our Jeff Stier participated in a panel discussion dedicated to the FDA’s role in approving new consumer products that will improve countless lives. The event was co-hosted by Taxpayers Protection AllianceR Street Institute and the Consumer Choice Center.

PUBLIC CANNABIS CONSUMPTION BAN IN ONTARIO WAS REVERSED

On 26 September, Ontario reversed their decision to ban all public consumption for cannabis. Check out how the Consumer Choice Center contributed to the creation of a more equitable, just and consumer-friendly cannabis market in Ontario.

NICOTINE IS NOT YOUR ENEMY SOIRÉE

On 2 October, the CCC hosted the ‘Nicotine is Not Your Enemy Soirée’ in Genève (Switzerland) to celebrate the life-saving advancements in nicotine consumption technology.

BAN AWARD

The Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, a treaty of the World Health Organization (WHO), received the October 2018 BAN Award for preventing tobacco harm reduction and denying the science on life-saving e-cigarette and vaping technology.

EFFECTIVE STAND AGAINST THE FAIR FEES ACT

The FAA reauthorization is off to the White House, after the Senate voted 93-6 to clear the legislation without the FAIR Fees Amendments. Airlines can keep offering modularized services to different passengers with different preferences and price sensitivity. This is a win for consumer choice and competition in the airline industry.Check out how the Consumer Choice Center helped to keep the skies free by effectively opposing the FAIR Fees Act. #FreeSkiesAreFAIR

Kommt das Rauchverbot für Schauspieler?

Diejenigen, die den Film “Thank You For Smoking” kennen, werden sich vielleicht an die sehr unterhaltsame Geschichte von Tabakgegnern und Befürworter erinnern. Während die Gegner zusätzliche Regulierung fordern, wollen die Befürworter ihre Industrie retten. Der Film nutzt das Stilmittel der Hyperbel, also der bewussten Übertreibung, um die Zuschauer für sich zu gewinnen. So werden zum Beispiel Tabaklobbyisten entführt und ein Gesetz diskutiert, das retrospektiv dazu verpflichtet alle Filme so zu editieren, dass Zigaretten durch Lollipops ersetzt werden.

Viele Jahre galt der Film als bewusste künstlerische Provokation und nicht als etwas was Experten oder gar Politiker im echten Leben fordern würden. Doch der Fakt, dass die französische Gesundheitsministerin Agnes Buyn Ende 2017 vorgeschlagen hat Zigaretten in Filmen zu verbieten zeigt, wie nah solche Regulierungsvorschläge an Dystopien einer Komödie herankommen.

Die Pläne von Gesundheitsaktivisten sind weitreichend und in den letzten Jahrzehnten zunehmend erfolgreich: rauchen und vapen ist in fast allen öffentlichen Plätzen verboten, Werbung für solche Produkte ist ebenfalls untersagt und in immer mehr Ländern ist noch nicht mal mehr erlaubt die Marken von Zigaretten zu zeigen. Darüber hinaus werden Zigaretten exzessiv besteuert. Dies hat bisher nicht nur zu weniger Freiheit für Konsumenten geführt, sondern auch zu einem florierenden Schwarzmarkt, von dem die Schattenwirtschaft profitiert.

Doch anscheinend ist das noch nicht das Ende des Bevormundungswahns. In dem die Gesundheitslobby darauf drängt Filme zu zensieren, die Zigaretten oder Nikotinprodukte wie E-Zigaretten zeigen, geht sie einen großen Schritt weiter als zuvor, da es die Kunst- und Meinungsfreiheit angreift.

Ab dem ersten Oktober werden sich die 181 Mitgliedstaaten der Weltgesundheitsorganisations (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) zur 8. Konferenz der Parteien in Genf treffen, um zu diskutieren wie die Zukunft der Tabakkontrolle aussehen soll.

Ein Blick auf die Agenda der Konferenz verrät, dass die Delegierten potenzielle Verbote von Tabak- und Nikotinprodukten in Medien und Filmen diskutieren wird, mit dem Ziel Rauchen unattraktiver zu machen. Beamte der WHO haben anscheinend größere Probleme mit einem im im Sessel rauchenden Sean Connery als mit Rambo, der im Dschungel hunderte von Menschen mit seiner Maschinenpistole abknallt. Gewalttätige Szenen sind anscheinend weniger relevant als Lifestyle Entscheidungen.

Die Konferenz wird ein interessanter Schauplatz für die Debatte ob E-Zigaretten und solche Produkte die nur Dampf erzeugen, aber Tabak nicht verbrennen (auch als Heat-Not-Burn oder HNB Produkte bekannt) aufgrund ihrer weniger schädlichen Folgen als Chance ergriffen wird, oder man E-Zigaretten so bekämpfen wird wie herkömmliche Zigaretten. Während Englands Gesundheitswesen Raucher dazu ermutigt zu rauchfreien Produkten wie E-Zigaretten zu wechseln, drängt die WHO ihre Mitgliedsstaaten weiter dazu alle E-Zigaretten und HNB Produkte zu verbieten.

Zuletzt hat die Konferenz der Parteien der WHO in Delhi stattgefunden – dabei kamen 5.000 indische Soldaten zum Einsatz um die Konferenz zu schützen, welche zum größten Teil unter Ausschluss der Öffentlichkeit stattfand. Die Konferenz hat die Mitgliedsstaaten dazu aufgerufen jegliche Werbung dieser bis zu 95% weniger schädlichen Technologien zu verbieten und die Produkte exzessiv zu besteuern.

Dieses Jahr findet die FCTC Konferenz in der Heimatstadt der WHO in Genf statt und sollte zugänglicher für Journalisten sein als die letzten Konferenzen in Delhi und Moskau. Hoffentlich wird es mehr öffentliche Aufmerksamkeit für diese Konferenz und den WHO Vertrag geben, die aktiv die Rechte von Konsumenten einschränkt von neuen Nikotinprodukten Gebrauch zu machen, und sogar die Meinungsfreiheit einschränkt und stattdessen aktive staatliche Zensur fordert. Der prüfende Blick der Öffentlichkeit ist der beste Weg solche illiberalen Vereinbarungen zu stoppen.

Originally published at https://www.huffingtonpost.de/entry/kommt-das-rauchverbot-fur-schauspieler_de_5bab49b0e4b0109d505c1037

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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.

Fight or business class flight? The WHO needs to get its priorities straight

Expensive hotels, beach resorts, and staggering travel costs: the UN’s World Health Organization (WHO) would have some tough questions to answer, if only the countries that funded it would ask them.

Unfortunately, the United Kingdom happily continues to spend taxpayers’ money on providing health experts with a luxurious jetsetting lifestyle.

The WHO’s travel expenses for one year are £156 million, which means that, on average, a single staffer racks up a total of $21,700 per year. That is the equivalent of Spain’s GDP per capita in Spain. They were likely inspired by Erik Solheim, executive director of UN Environment, who was found in an investigation to be travelling for 529 out of the 668 days audited, at a total cost of £370,380.

Last March, the Associated Press reported that the WHO spent more for the travel of 7,000 staffers than it did for countering malaria, tuberculosis, fighting AIDS and hepatitis, and on tackling mental health and substance abuse. Even more galling is the fact that, against this backdrop, the agency is demanding its budget be increased as it doesn’t seem to have enough money to fulfil its healthcare-providing role.

So how well is the WHO doing in its main role? The answer is mediocre, at best.

As the Ebola crisis was ravaging a number of African countries in 2014, we put our trust into a number of international organisations to assist West African countries such as Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea or Nigeria to contain the spread of the virus and aid those who were unable to receive medical care.

The WHO was one of them. According to its own website the “WHO aims to prevent Ebola outbreaks by maintaining surveillance for Ebola virus disease and supporting at-risk countries to developed preparedness plans.”

Experts in the field, however, beg to differ. As Reuters reported in 2015, a specialist panel convened by Harvard’s Global Health Institute (HGHI) and the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) concluded that immense human suffering went “largely unchecked” by institutional responders.

It turned out that WHO officials were aware of the outbreak in spring, yet it took until August to declare it a public health emergency and take action. This is months after the broader public was already aware of the problems with the epidemic.

Where the WHO excels is in ticking people off over their lifestyle. Be it drinking alcohol, smoking cigarettes, playing video games or eating fatty foods, for each and every one of your behaviours there is a business-class flying bureaucrat who has an opinion on it.

For that purpose, these experts need to be accommodated well. For instance, at the Coral Strand hotel in the Seychelles, which hosted international tobacco control experts from South Africa, Mauritius, Kenya, Uganda and Liberia in order to learn about the Seychelles’ “comprehensive tobacco control laws” which, as the islands’ government admits, are only “in the process of being enforced”.

At around $300 per night, the hotel offers nice rooms, including offsite water sports, badminton lawns, and an ocean deck bar for thirsty health experts to learn “best practice” about policies that do not even exist.

Then there’s the luxurious Mandarin Oriental du Rhone, the five-star hotel hosting the WHO’s bureaucrats for their “Framework Convention on Tobacco Control” in Geneva. With suites at a mere £800 a night, British taxpayers can rest assured that no expense has been spared to promote the WHO’s paternalistic agenda. But delegates should be on the lookout: the £25 breakfast buffet might actually contain food that should be taxed, regulated or banned. Hopefully the health officials manage to survive in this dangerous environment.

The bottom-line isn’t complicated: you can fight Ebola in an economy class seat, lodging in a low-cost hotel. While the WHO throws fancy parties for paternalistic bureaucrats, organisations such as Doctor Without Borders do actual, helpful work on the ground. The United Kingdom should do the right thing and demand far greater efficiency from the WHO, or withdraw its funding.

Originally published at https://capx.co/fight-or-business-class-flight-the-who-needs-to-get-its-priorities-straight/?fbclid=IwAR3t4Lvogd-SbLU5RG4z3faOnoS7yignzQ0hLGov9RpM_Je_So0RLVTeh7Y

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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.

WHO’s afraid of vaping

The war on vaping is a threat to public health.

For the second time in two years, I sat in the public gallery at a United Nations conference in Geneva as a senior UN bureaucrat told us that all members of the media and public were to be barred from the proceedings. This particular occasion was one of the UN’s biannual sessions to update the World Health Organisation’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC).

The FCTC is the first global-health treaty enacted by WHO. It has been ratified by 181 countries and forms the basis of a number of national laws across the globe, such as tobacco taxes, advertising restrictions, and plain cigarette packaging.

Each biannual meeting is a taxpayer-financed talkfest, dominated by various health ministries and anti-tobacco organisations like the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and the Framework Convention Alliance, who are not only granted ‘observer status’, but also intervene in the large plenary debates and use their platform to shame the delegates of any country which doesn’t adopt a prohibitionist attitude toward tobacco.

Though the conference claims to be about science and public health, it is anything but. For instance, new vaping and e-cigarette technologies are the most popular stop-smoking aids in England, used by 1.2million Brits according to the latest government figures. A Public Health England report says that vaping can reduce health risks by 95 per cent and can increase the chances of quitting smoking by up to 50 per cent.

But the arguments for vaping are dismissed by WHO as ‘unfounded’ and ‘inconclusive’. One top NGO said parties at the meeting should ‘refrain from engaging in lengthy and inconclusive discussion’ on alternative nicotine products like vaping.

Vaping activists had tried to attend the conference to share their stories of how they quit smoking. Volunteers from the International Network of Nicotine Consumer Organisations (INNCO) proudly blew clouds of water vapour outside the conference’s doors. Unlike the more prohibitionist NGOs, they were denied observer status.

The clear anti-vaping bias led to some absurd claims. Anne Bucher, director-general of the EU’s Health and Food Safety Directorate, was adamant that, despite containing no tobacco, vaping and e-cigarette devices should be considered ‘tobacco products’, subject to all the same laws, restrictions, and bans. The treaty itself sought to enforce the same restrictions on vaping and e-cigarettes as cigarettes and cigars. This could actually hamper people’s ability to quit smoking.

Another object of hate was the media. Delegates from countries including China, Zimbabwe, the Maldives and Uganda claimed the entire conference should take place without media or public scrutiny. ‘What we’re dealing with is the mafia’, said the delegate from Afghanistan, referring to the public sat in the gallery above.

A representative from Chad lamented that more people did not know about the FCTC meeting and its impact. In the same breath, he argued in favour of kicking out the public and media after the opening plenary.

It was a bizarre and Orwellian conference. The proposals that emerged in the name of protecting public health could seriously set back the improvements in public-health that have come about thanks to alternatives to cigarettes like vaping, e-cigarettes and snus.

One thing became clear: innovative products, new markets and the much hated ‘industry’ were doing more to bring about better health outcomes than the UN’s supranational health bureaucracy.

Yaël Ossowski is a Canadian journalist and deputy director of the Consumer Choice Center

Originally published at https://www.spiked-online.com/2018/10/12/whos-afraid-of-vaping/

 

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About Yaël Ossowski

Yaël Ossowski is a journalist, activist, and writer. He's currently deputy director at the Consumer Choice Center, and senior development officer for Students For Liberty. He was previously a national investigative reporter and chief Spanish translator at Watchdog.org, and worked at newspapers and television stations across the country. He received a Master’s Degree in Philosophy, Politics, Economics (PPE) at the CEVRO Institute in Prague. Born in Québec and raised in the southern United States, he currently lives in Vienna, Austria.

OPINIE: Rokende Sean Connery kennelijk gevaarlijker dan moordende John Rambo

VSK: Dat schrijft Frederik Cyrus Roeder, gezondheidseconoom en directeur van het Consumer Choise Center in een opinieartikel op het platform Vocal Europe.

Deze week vergadert in Genève een afvaardiging van de WHO. Op het programma staat onder meer een mogelijk verbod op het gebruik van tabak en aanverwante artikelen in films en andere media-uitingen, bedoeld om roken minder aantrekkelijk te maken. Ook nieuwe producten die hoogstwaarschijnlijk een stuk minder schadelijk zijn voor de gezondheid, zoals e-sigaretten, ontkomen niet aan de regelzucht van de WHO, constateert Roeder.

Lees meer bij Vocal Europe:

Will smoking in movies be banned soon?

READ MORE

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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.

Will smoking in movies be banned soon?

Those who have watched to movie Thank You For Smoking might remember its very entertaining way of telling the story of tobacco control activists fighting for more regulation, as well as tobacco lobbyists trying to save their industry.

In order to tell this story and keep viewers engaged for the entirety of the movie, the director used many exaggerations such as the kidnapping of a tobacco lobbyist and a policy proposal to retrospectively edit old movies that show actors smoking cigarettes by replacing them with lollipops instead instead.

For many years it sounded like an artistic exaggeration and not like something that could be seriously proposed by public policy experts or politicians. When the French Minister for Health Agnes Buzyn proposed in late 2017 to ban cigarettes in French movies, she demonstrated how far regulatory overreach has come and how close it is to a dystopian comedy movie.

The plans of public health activists of banning smoking and vaping in most public spaces, outlawing advertisement, ban branding, and excessively tax it, have been increasingly successful in the last two decades. This has lead not only to limited consumer choice, but also to the flourishing rise of black market activities, which benefit from the shadow economy.

But apparently regulating consumers’ private behavior is not the end of this regulatory overreach. By asking for censoring movies that show cigarettes or nicotine products such as electronic cigarettes the public health lobby goes a big step further and is eager to limit the freedom of arts and speech for the sake of health.

From October 1st on the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) and its 181 member states will meet for its 8th Conference of Parties in Geneva in order to discuss the future of tobacco control.

A preview of the conference’s agenda shows that the delegates will discuss potential bans of tobacco and nicotine products in media and movies in order to make smoking less attractive. WHO officials have apparently a bigger problem with Sean Connery sitting in his lounge chair smoking a cigarette than with John Rambo wielding his machine gun through the jungle and killing hundreds. The depiction of violence seems less of an issue than that of lifestyle choices.

The conference will be an interesting battle ground for the debate on whether electronic cigarettes and heat not burn devices should be embraced for their less harmful nature or should be combated as cigarettes. While the England’s National Health Service suggests smokers to switch to smokeless products such as e-cigs, the World Health Organization suggests to all its members to ban electronic cigarettes and heat-not-burn devices.

The last time the Conference of Parties of the WHO came together in Delhi – under the protection of 5,000 Indian soldiers and most of the time under exclusion of the public or journalists – the conference suggested its members to ban all advertising and promotion of these up to 95% less harmful technologies and to tax them extensively.

This year’s FCTC Conference is hosted in the WHO’s home town Geneva and should be more accessible for journalists and public observers than the past conferences in Delhi and Moscow. Hopefully a good amount of public attention will be drawn to this conference and WHO treaty, which actively undermines consumers’ rights to switch to novel nicotine consumption methods, and now even attacks freedom of speech while actively promoting government censorship. Public scrutiny will be the best way of stopping such illiberal agreements.

Originally published at https://www.vocaleurope.eu/will-smoking-in-movies-be-banned-soon/

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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.

OMS: buone intenzioni, cattive esecuzioni

ATLANTICO: E’ evidente che, nonostante le ottime intenzioni, l’OMS non stia percorrendo la strada giusta per risolvere i problemi legati al tabacco. Come dice Luca Bertoletti, European Affairs Manager del già citato Consumer Choice Center: “L’OMS ha perso la bussola. Deve decidere se continuare sulla cattiva strada e diventare nient’altro che l’ennesima organizzazione burocratica e paternalistica, o tornare sui suoi passi e intraprendere il giusto percorso per tutelare la salute e salvare vite umane”. Si ha l’impressione, a pochi giorni dal convegno, che le decisioni che saranno prese durante il COP8 a Ginevra, non andranno nella giusta direzione: è probabile che ne deriveranno ulteriori restrizioni e maggiori controlli. Una situazione che ci deve invitare a riflettere sul ruolo di determinate istituzioni e sul loro operato: è necessario armarsi di sano scetticismo anche nei confronti di organizzazioni che si pongono obiettivi così importanti e di carattere universale.

READ MORE

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About Luca Bertoletti

Luca graduated with a degree in Political Science from the University of Milan in December 2014. He worked as a Business Economics Analyst for the Italian magazine TheFielder in Milan and as Think Thank Coordinator for the Austrian Economics Center in Vienna. He is a fellow of Competere Institute in Rome, a columnist for Atlantico Quotidiano, and he sits on the scientific board of New Direction Italia. He has been featured in the New York Times, Radio RAI, RAI 1, El Economista, The National and many other newspapers.

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.”

mm

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.