Open Letter

Proposed ban on all vape flavours

To whom it may concern,

On behalf of the Consumer Choice Center, a global consumer advocacy group representing millions of consumers in Europe and globally, I am writing to express our great concern at the proposed ban on all vape flavours. We need policies that are science-based and enhance consumer choice instead of hurting adult consumers and undermining their ability to choose for themselves. 

The Netherlands has always been one of the few islands of liberalism, an exemplar of rational openness to innovation. In the Netherlands, 3.1% of adults use e-cigarettes, and with the ban in place, nearly 260,000 Dutch vapers might return to smoking. Both short-term and long-term, that is too high of a price to pay, especially in light of our shared European efforts to reduce cancer rates.

In order to see why the proposed vape ban would be a disastrous move that the Dutch government should avoid. 

First, vaping was invented as a harm reduction tool aimed at adult smokers to help them switch to a safer alternative and conversely reduce health-associated risks.

Vaping has been proven to be 95% less harmful than smoking and has been endorsed by the UK, New Zealand, and Australia government bodies as a safer alternative.

As demonstrated by Public Health England, vaping is 95% less harmful than tobacco cigarettes. Prof. Peter Hajek stated “My reading of the evidence is that smokers who switch to vaping remove almost all the risks smoking poses to their health”. Prof. McNeill et al., E-cigarettes around 95% less harmful than tobacco estimates landmark review, 2015

Second, allowing smokers to experiment with vape flavours is a key part of cessation through vaping.  Two-thirds of current vapers are using some form of flavoured liquids. Vapers prefer non-tobacco flavours over tobacco flavoured e-cigarettes, mainly because flavours don’t remind them of the taste of cigarettes. 

A nationally representative longitudinal study of over 17,000 Americans, over a five year period, showed that adults who used flavoured vaping products were more likely to quit smoking cigarettes when compared to vapers who consumed tobacco flavoured vaping products. When comparing the two groups, those who use flavours and those who use tobacco flavours, vapers that used flavours were 2.3 times more likely to quit smoking than those vaping tobacco flavoured products.

According to research on vapers in Canada and the U.S, a majority of vapers use non-tobacco flavoured vape products as their personal preference. Consumers generally prefer flavours over tobacco flavoured vaping products because of their taste, but also because tobacco flavours remind consumers of conventional cigarettes. Of those surveyed, who are considered regular users, 63.1% use non-tobacco flavoured products (fruit, mint, candy). These adults found vaping more satisfying (compared with smoking) than vapers using tobacco flavour. 

In our latest paper Vaping as a gateway out of smoking, we have debunked the most spread myths related to vaping, including youth vaping and nicotine addiction. After reviewing an extensive number of studies on the topic, we at the Consumer Choice Center are of the opinion that banning vape flavours would not only be a violation of consumer choice but, above all, a scientifically ignorant policy. The Dutch government can do better than such proposals and continue a long tradition of freedom on the continent instead of resorting to unjustified paternalism.

Adult smokers should have a choice to switch to a safer alternative that has proved to be an effective cessation tool, and vape flavours are instrumental in making those efforts a success. We need to embrace vaping to reduce health-associated risks such as cancer. For smokers, and for future generations.

Kind regards,

Maria Chaplia
Research Manager 
Consumer Choice Center

Open Letter on EU Airlines

Dear Director-General Mr. Hololei,

On behalf of the Consumer Choice Center, the consumer advocacy group representing and empowering consumers in the EU and globally, we would like to express our deep concerns about the Commission’s intention to extend the waiver of the “use-it-or-loseit” rule for the entire 2020-2021 winter season. In our view, such a move would be extremely protectionist, distortive, and would do more harm than good.

The overwhelming uncertainty around the second wave of coronavirus, travel restrictions, and a significant drop in demand are some of the crucial issues the aviation industry has faced. It is therefore in the interest of consumers, airports, and the industry itself to arrive at a mutually satisfactory solution. What we need in these times is to encourage more connectivity and not less. Extending the waiver will likely keep flight connections and destinations way below the pre-COVID times. Now might be the right time for new entrants into the market to connect people across Europe and the world.

The current waiver of the requirement to fly 80% of granted slots or lose them is set to expire on October 24th. Multiple associations have called on the Commission to extend the waiver “to ensure that the flying of empty planes is avoided” so that “flights are operated in the most sustainable
way possible.” However, the extension would create the situation in which the biggest airlines will get a chance to monopolise the slots making it impossible for the smaller ones to enter. This explains why low-cost airlines such as Wizz Air oppose the extension of the waiver calling it anti-competitive and such that “would hinder rather than help the recovery of the EU aviation industry and, therefore, European economies.”

Airport slots are scarce, and that is why they are so valuable and have to be put to the most efficient use. Though pursued out of noble motives, the Commission’s waiver policy implies that the airlines are the sole owner of the slots.

The airport slot ownership shouldn’t be static. On the contrary, it should constantly rotate between airlines to guarantee the most efficient allocation of the facilities and to encourage responsible use of airports. The “use-it-or leave-it” rule is, in this sense, fair and just, and should be sustained at all

Flying has changed our lives in many ways. Now that consumers all across Europe have got a taste of life without travelling, they would want to fly more not less once the pandemic is over. The European Commission should focus on ensuring that they have a chance to choose between multiple airlines keeping in mind their budget constraint. In order to achieve this,
both big and low cost companies have to be treated equally and compete for airport slots.

It is still not too late to preserve competition and consumer choice. With that in mind, the Consumer Choice Center calls on the Commission to reconsider formalising the extension for the entire 2020-2021 winter season. On our end, we would be keen to elaborate further on our
view and help the Commission find the most optimal solution.

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