La police de la santé publique progresse

Les “défenseurs de la santé publique” se sont d’abord attaqué au tabac et à l’alcool, ils s’attaquent désormais à notre alimentation quotidienne.

Dans un rapport publié fin janvier dans le journal médical réputé The Lancet, l’auteur principal, Boyd Swinburn, plaide en faveur d’une plus grande intervention afin de réduire les effets de la malnutrition sur la santé publique.

Ce rapport de 56 pages est une longue liste de prescriptions politiques pour améliorer la santé publique — y compris l’augmentation des taxes ou la réduction de la publicité. Avant tout, les chercheurs semblent très inquiets que Big Food (l’industrie de l’alimentation) s’immisce dans le débat sur la nutrition, et croient que ces professionnels organisent en effet unilatéralement une “syndémie mondiale” (*), comme ils l’appellent.

Voici un extrait du rapport :

“Certaines mesures gouvernementales, y compris des règlements sur la commercialisation d’aliments et de boissons malsaines auprès des enfants, des étiquettes spéciales sur les emballages, des politiques fiscales comme les taxes sur les boissons gazeuses et des lois sur la protection des consommateurs peuvent aider à limiter cette consommation d’aliments malsains axée sur l’offre.”

Voyez-vous le problème ? “Consommation axée sur l’offre” implique que la demande d’aliments malsains n’est pas le résultat d’un désir réel du marché, mais plutôt d’une commercialisation intelligente. Les consommateurs sont considérés comme des pantins sans cervelle exploitable par l’industrie et non comme des individus.

La raison est claire : si vous admettez que les gens font des choix responsables et individuels, vous ne pourrez pas faire valoir que les interventions gouvernementales sont des mesures de protection. La déshumanisation des décisions de marché est essentielle à la politique de l’État-nounou.

Le rapport du Lancet est long, mais il vaut la peine d’être lu si vous voulez connaître de près l’état d’esprit sinistre des défenseurs des politiques de santé publique.

Les mesures d’emballages fortement réglementés, la hausse des taxes et les campagnes gouvernementales constantes sur les aliments se multiplient de façon effrayante.

En plus de la réglementation gouvernementale très intrusive, les chercheurs plaident pour l’infiltration de leurs idées à travers les individus en tant qu’activistes de l’alimentation, si jamais leurs propositions n’étaient pas assez dissuasives. C’est ainsi qu’ils décrivent leurs opportunités :

“Les gens vivent dans des réseaux d’influence. L’influence la plus forte est au niveau de la famille et des cercles sociaux mais les gens interagissent et influencent aussi dans de nombreux milieux — par exemple les lieux de travail, les écoles, les universités, les magasins, les lieux de loisirs, les villages et les communautés locales. Même au niveau macroéconomique, le fait d’être un consommateur, d’utiliser les médias de masse ou de travailler au sein du gouvernement ou d’autres systèmes offre une occasion de créer de l’influence.”

Il n’y a rien de mal à ce que les gens défendent un changement au niveau personnel ou familial. Ce qui est déconcertant, c’est que ces auteurs seront des acteurs clés pour conseiller les décideurs publics. Ils pourraient faire en sorte que les gens soient informés par des fonctionnaires du gouvernement sur la façon de convaincre leurs amis et leur famille de s’inscrire pour devenir des “ambassadeurs de l’alimentation” ou peu importe le nom qu’on donnerait. Une utopie cauchemardesque pour s’immiscer dans les choix personnels de chacun de nous.

L’une des prescriptions est également qu’il devrait y avoir une conférence internationale qui pourra évaluer la nécessité et l’efficacité des nouvelles politiques.

Découvrez la CCLAT

La convention CCLAT est le premier traité de santé mondiale adopté par l’OMS. Elle a été ratifiée par 181 pays et constitue la base d’un certain nombre de lois nationales à travers le monde, telles que les taxes sur le tabac, les restrictions publicitaires et d’autres mesures comme le paquet neutre.

La CCLAT exclut de ses réunions les organisations de médias et les ONG qu’elle juge inutiles et discute à huis clos de ses recommandations politiques, qui vont s’appliquer à des milliards de personnes. Le fait que tout cela soit très coûteux et financé par les contribuables va sans dire.

Vous n’êtes peut-être pas fumeur mais ne soyez pas indifférent à la CCLAT qui pourrait à terme réglementer beaucoup d’autres secteurs de consommation. Une CCLAT pour les aliments proposerait des mesures aussi draconiennes que celles qui s’appliquent au tabac : augmentation des taxes sur les péchés, diminution de l’accès et étiquetage clair.

Si vous n’y croyez pas, jetez un coup d’œil à ce tweet de Jennifer Browne, nutritionniste en santé publique (qui a depuis été supprimé en raison des réactions) :

Préparez-vous à voir l’alimentation se renchérir et à des supermarchés ternes si ces gens obtiennent ce qu’ils veulent.

Arrêtons l’État-nounou !

Si vous ne défendez pas la liberté des fumeurs, des buveurs et de ceux qui aiment les jeux de hasard, même si vous réprouvez leurs choix de vie, alors vous êtes condamné à être le prochain.

La CCLAT alimentaire argumentera : “quand nous l’avons fait pour le tabac, vous étiez d’accord avec les mêmes principes de taxation, d’accès limité et d’interdiction de marque.”

Allez-vous dire que “c’est différent” ? Pourquoi ce serait différent ? Les hamburgers ne sont pas les choix nutritionnels les plus sains pour tous.

Certains choix comportent des risques que nous assumons car il nous apportent du plaisir. Respecter les choix des autres sans nous élever à une prétendue norme morale supérieure signifie vivre dans une société libre.

Vivre et laisser vivre. Ce n’est vraiment pas si difficile.

(*)        Ce néologisme est employé dans la littérature médicale autour des pathologies liées au VIH et à la toxicomanie. Il désigne un ensemble de problèmes de santé qui se renforcent mutuellement.

Originally published at https://la-chronique-agora.com/police-sante-publique-progresse/

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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 Food Nannies Are Coming to Protect You from Hamburgers and Soda

Dehumanizing market decisions is key to patronizing nanny-state policies.

In a report published in The Lancet at the end of January, lead author Boyd Swinburn makes the case for greater government intervention in order to reduce the public health effects of malnutrition.

The 56-page report is a long list of known policy prescriptions to increase public health, including increased taxation and reduced means of marketing. Most of all, the researchers seem very worried that Big Food is meddling in the debate around nutrition and believe that the industry is, indeed, unilaterally organizing the global “syndemic,” as they call it.

Take this extract:

Some government measures, including regulations for the marketing of unhealthy food and beverage products to children, front-of-pack warning labels, fiscal policies such as soda taxes, and consumer protection laws can help to constrain this supply-driven consumption of unhealthy foods.

Did you notice the term “supply-driven?” This implies that the consumption of unhealthy food isn’t the result of actual market demand, but rather that of clever marketing wherein consumers are seen as mindless drones under the influence of Big Food, not as individuals.

The reason is clear: Were you to accept that people make responsible individual choices, then you couldn’t make the argument that large-scale government intervention is necessary as a measure of protection. Dehumanizing market decisions is key to patronizing nanny-state policies.

The report is a lengthy but worthwhile read if you’re interested in a first-hand look at the sinister mindset of public health policy advocates. We are familiar with the usual measures of heavily regulated packaging, higher taxation, and constant government campaigns regarding food. The report, however, takes it a step further.

The researchers also recognize that some of their measures will fail and therefore claim that some efforts need to be made by individuals through government guidance. This is demonstrated in the desire to see these ideas proliferate through individuals as food activists. This is how they describe the opportunity:

People live in networks of influence. Their influence is greatest at the micro level with family and social circles, but people also interact in and influence many settings— e.g. workplaces, schools, universities, shops, recreational settings, villages, and local communities. Even at the macro level, being a consumer, using mass media, or working in government or other macro systems provides an opportunity to create influence.

There is nothing wrong with people arguing for change at the personal/family level. What is disconcerting is that these authors will be key actors in advising public policymakers.

Imagine the scenario: people are briefed by government bureaucrats on how to convince their friends and family to sign up to become “food ambassadors,” or whatever they would be called, leading to a dystopian and intrusive interference with people’s personal choices.

One of the prescriptions is also that there should be an international conference that can assess the necessity and effectiveness of new policies.

The Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) is the first global health treaty enacted by the World Health Organization (WHO). It has been ratified by 181 countries and forms the basis of a number of national laws across the globe, including tobacco taxes, advertising restrictions, and plain cigarette packaging.

Brace for expensive food and sterile supermarkets if these people get their way.

Each biannual meeting is dominated by various health ministries and anti-tobacco organizations like the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and the Framework Convention Alliance, which 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.

The FCTC excludes media organizations and NGOs it deems unhelpful from its meetings and discusses its policy recommendations for billions of people behind closed doors. The fact that this is all very expensive and taxpayer-funded should go without saying.

Presumably, only a minority of readers here are smokers and could, therefore, shrug off this particular example. However, the FCTC is constantly used as an example of how to regulate myriad other areas of consumption, as well. An FCTC for food would come up with similarly draconian measures as those for tobacco: increased sin taxes, decreased access, and plain-packaged labeling.

If you don’t believe it, check out this tweet from public health nutritionist Jennifer Browne (which has since been deleted as a result of backlash):

Brace for expensive food and sterile supermarkets if these people get their way.

If you don’t defend the liberty of smokers, drinkers, and gamblers, regardless of how repulsive you may find their life choices on a personal level, then you’re condemned to be next. Liberty and consumer choice are best defended if done consistently. That’s because the argument for a food FCTC will be: “When we did it for tobacco, you agreed with the same principles of taxation, limited access, and banned branding.” Will you say that “this is different”? How so, exactly?

Hamburgers aren’t exactly the healthiest of all nutritional options, yet we still eat them. It’s because we recognize that some vices aren’t good for us, but we choose the associated risks of consumption over the prospect of never enjoying anything we eat. This is not to say that vegetarian diets cannot be tasty; simply that they just aren’t for everyone. Respecting individuals’ choices without elevating our own to a pretended higher moral standard is what it means to live in a free society.

Live and let live. It’s really not that hard.

Originally published at https://fee.org/articles/the-food-nannies-are-coming-to-protect-you-from-hamburgers-and-soda/

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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.

Warum sollen Arme Zölle auf Medikamente zahlen?

Due to a lack of basic conditions and a lack of infrastructure, donated drugs and vaccines often do not even reach patients. # EB144

Zeitgleich zum Weltwirtschaftsforum trifft sich Ende Januar unweit von Davos in Genf der geschäftsführende Vorstand der Weltgesundheitsorganisation. Erschütternde Nachrichten über erneute Ebola-Fälle aus dem Kongo sollten vermuten lassen, dass es sich bei diesem Vorstandstreffen hauptsächlich um die effektive Bekämpfung dieser schrecklichen Seuche drehen wird.

Hilfsmitarbeiter haben teilweise ihre Arbeit im Kongo ruhen lassen müssen, da es Gewalt und Übergriffe auf sie gab. Gleichzeitig wurden Regionalwahlen in zwei Provinzen verschoben, was mit der anhaltenden Ebola Epidemie begründet wurde, aber von vielen Menschen als politisches Manöver gegen die Opposition wahrgenommen wurde. Dies sorgte für zusätzliche Unruhen und macht die Arbeit von internationalen Hilfskräften noch schwerer. In solchen Situationen ist auf die geballte Kraft der Weltgesundheitsorganisation und deren UN Mandat zu hoffen.

Doch der 2017 gewählte und amtierende Generaldirektor, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, hat zu häufig andere Prioritäten als die akute Bekämpfung von ansteckenden Viren. Der ehemalige äthiopische Außenminister zeigt offen seine ideologisch motivierten Vorstösse im Kampf gegen nichtübertragbare Krankheiten (englisch: non communicable disease oder NCD), wie zum Beispiel Videospielsucht. Erst letzten Sommer machte die WHO Schlagzeilen mit der Anerkennung von Videospielsucht (gaming disorder) als Krankheit.

Während Videospiele hoffentlich nicht die Agenda des nächsten Vorstandstreffens füllen werden, besteht die Gefahr, dass deutlich mehr über nationale Gesundheitspolitik gesprochen wird als die internationale Bekämpfung globaler Seuchen. So stehen große Teile der Agenda im Lichte der sogenannten Access to Medicines Roadmap, die sich zwar zum Ziel setzt den Zugang zu Medikamenten weltweit zu verbessern, aber hauptsächlich Regierungen vorschlägt private Gesundheitsunternehmen zu enteignen und deren geistiges Eigentum ohne oder zu deutlich geringeren Lizenzgebühren zu verwenden. So spricht sich die WHO für verpflichtende Lizenzen an lokale Generikaproduzenten aus, die es erlauben die bestehenden Patente von forschenden Pharmafirmen zu ignorieren.

Während die WHO also der forschenden Privatwirtschaft den Kampf erklärt, verschweigt sie die eigentlichen Probleme, mit denen Patienten in Entwicklungs- und Schwellenländern ringen.

Misswirtschaft und Korruption sorgen in diesen Ländern oft für eine schlechte oder sogar desolate Verteilung von bereits knappen Finanzmitteln im Gesundheitssektor. Anstelle Krankenhäuser zu modernisieren und die einfachsten aber notwendigen Materialien und Medikamente vorrätig zu haben, verschwinden sowohl Steuergelder als auch internationale Hilfszahlungen in den Koffern von korrupten Politikern und Mitarbeitern.

Aufgrund fehlender Rahmenbedingungen und mangelnder Infrastruktur kommen oft gespendete Medikamente und Impfstoffe erst gar nicht bei Patienten an. Von einem führenden Pharmamanager habe ich einmal gehört, dass seine Branche volle Warenhäuser mit AIDS-Medikamenten in mehreren afrikanischen Ländern hätte, diese aber leider nicht an die Patienten liefern könne. Gründe dafür liegen bei mangelnden Kühlketten, schlechten Straßen, aber auch korrupter Strassenpolizei und Übergriffen auf Ärzte.

Dies sind einige Punkte auf die sich die WHO konzentrieren könnte, falls sie wirklich effektiv das Patientenwohl steigern wolle. Zwei weitere, noch schneller wirksame, Maßnahmen wäre die einseitige Abschaffung von Mehrwertsteuern und Einfuhrzölle auf Medikamente. Besonders Schwellenländer wie China, Brasilien und Russland erheben oft hohe Zölle auf innovative Medikamente. So geht der Ökonom Matthias Bauer beispielsweise davon aus, dass chinesische Patienten über 5,5 Milliarden Euro durch die Abschaffung von Zöllen auf importierte Arznei sparen könnten. In Indien und Brasilien würde Freihandel die Medikamentenpreise fast halbieren.

Die oft finanzstarken Pharmaunternehmen könnten wichtig Partner in der Erschließung von benötigter Infrastruktur in diesen Ländern werden. Daher sollte die Weltgesundheitsorganisation solche Firmen nicht als Buhmann für Versäumnisse staatlicher Akteure ausmachen, sondern eher die wirklichen Gründe für schlechte Gesundheitssysteme und mangelnde Versorgung ausmachen: Korruption, Bürokratie und Protektionismus.

Während der Abbau von Korruption sicherlich ein langer Prozess ist, lassen sich Zölle einseitig und schnell abschaffen. Dies bedarf meist nur eines Erlasses des jeweiligen Landes. Ein schnelleres Zulassungsverfahren und ein einfacher Import von Medikamenten sind weitere Schritte die den Preis senken und Patienten einfacheren Zugang geben.

Originally published at https://www.huffingtonpost.de/entry/warum-sollen-arme-zolle-auf-medikamente-zahlen_de_5c2e7106e4b04aa0a171b8df?ec_carp=5153505921210605257

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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.

Huge disparities in European breast cancer care shown by new index

With nearly 100,000 women lose their life to breast cancer every year in the European Union it is the most lethal cancer diagnosis for women in the EU.

And while health systems of the 28 different Member States have made progresses in providing better care, chances of early diagnosis and state of the art treatment depends heavily on where a patient lives.

The recently launched Breast Cancer Index illustrates very well on disparities in breast cancer care across the continent. While Northern European countries rank usually in the top 20% of this index, Eastern and Southern Europe’s health systems seem to provide less advanced care in the field of breast cancer.

All of the three Benelux countries can be found in the top six of this index including all 28 EU Member States. Sweden, Austria, and Germany are the other three countries in the top six. These are followed by the other two northern EU Members Finland and Denmark.

And Italy’s very heterogeneous health system lands a 9th rank in this new index, treatment outcomes vary a lot depending on which part of Italy a patient seeks care. Traditionally the health system of for instance the region of Lombardia is worlds apart from care infrastructure in the south of Italy. And while France’s health system is often ranked best globally by the World Health Organization it merely makes it on the 10th spot in this EU ranking.

Greece, Croatia, Latvia, and Hungary mark the last five ranks of the index and illustrate the strong North/West to South/East divide of breast cancer care in the EU. The index’ methodology focuses on indicators such access to screening, preventive measures, palliative care offers, medical specialists, outcomes like survival rates, the quality of cancer registries, and the populations’ lifestyle.

Looking at the top-ranked countries one can conclude that health systems which allow competition between providers both inpatient and outpatient seem to have a higher standard of breast cancer care.


  • Breast Cancer Index 2018

Sweden’s successful tobacco harm reduction strategies have not only lead to by far the lowest smoking rates in the EU but also helped to get to the top of this ranking. And while the UK’s (acknowledging that is has several regional systems) centralized NHS is successful in maintaining high quality registries it falls short in focusing on individual cases and offering speedy treatments. 

Most Central & Eastern European countries saw economic growth over 3% in the last couple of years and while this also resulted in higher absolute healthcare spending it did not necessarily outpace the general GDP growth which would be necessary in order to bridge the gap in care compared to the ranking’s front runners.

The access to innovative medicine and government’s willingness to cover innovative medicine or at least allow private funding mechanism is not looked at by this index. If one would look at the time lags between the introduction and reimbursement of lifesaving innovative medicines in some of the index’ front runners and its poorest performers it is likely to assume that these results would correlate with most of what the index already shows.

This should put policymakers in the second half of the index’ ranks into a position to ask themselves how to tackle this massive problem of deficiencies in breast cancer care. At times of government austerity and debt crises in the Mediterranean one proven policy option would be to allow public private partnerships or fully private solutions that enable patients to purchase a top up coverage closing the gap between their home country’s level of care and what’s recommended by European guidelines.

Portugal has been experimenting with such new models that allow a better access to innovative medicines in care care. And while the country ranks 23rd on the overall index it is at a respectable 6th place when solely looking at outcomes and survival rates.

Policy innovations and more involvement of the private sector in improving care and funding of care are needed in order to successfully combat the notion that cancer equals a death diagnosis.

Originally published at https://www.vocaleurope.eu/huge-disparities-in-european-breast-cancer-care-shown-by-new-index/

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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.

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.