fbpx

uk

We must resist Public Health England’s brave new world

We must resist Public Health England’s brave new world

In a remarkable authoritarian parting shot as she left her post as Chief Medical Officer, Dame Sally Davies published a report entitled Time to Solve Childhood Obesity, which was warmly welcomed by Health Secretary Matt Hancock.

The report’s recommendations would create a positively dystopian world. Public Health England want to outright ban eating on public transport. Inflated VAT rates would make simple food and drinks purchases seem rather more extravagant than before.

There would be no more junk food ads, and buying fast food would become an ordeal and a luxury. But if the government opts to follow the report’s recommendations – which is a real possibility, whoever wins the election – this Brave New World could soon become a reality.

The supposed childhood obesity epidemic has been slowly but surely taking over British public health discourse. It began around 2005, with Jamie Oliver’s televisual lip service, and eventually resulted in George Osborne’s sugar tax eleven years later.

With over one in five English 10 and 11-year-olds suffering from obesity according to the latest available data from the NHS, the government has understandably set alarm bells ringing.

The domineering, restrictive approach being proposed by Public Health England, however, brings to light some deep-seated issues.

The key one has to do with individual freedoms. Radical measures like taxing ‘unhealthy’ foods, banning ads and enforcing plain packaging would fail to tackle childhood obesity, while also harshly affecting adults and their personal choices.

This kind of nannyism is remarkably cross-party, differing only in degree. While Jeremy Corbyn’s support for sin taxes and junk food ad bans comes as no surprise, it is quite baffling to witness Tories persistently meddling with individual choices too.

Considering the party’s ideological roots, you would expect the Conservatives to be more mindful of the dangers this approach poses for the fundamental freedom to choose.

Plain packaging of tobacco products and the ban on plastic straws signalled a drastic shift away from core Conservative values, and it seems that things are only getting worse.

Public support appears dishearteningly high for such approaches. A YouGov poll from a few months ago showed that 55% of the public believe we need additional taxation on unhealthy foods and drinks. Alarmingly, the figure among Conservative voters is 54%.

The poll also found that nearly two thirds of British adults would be in favour of banning junk food TV ads before the 9pm watershed, with only 20% opposed. Almost three quarters support restrictions on food advertising on YouTube and social media.

In this context, ad bans and harsh authoritarian restrictions are seeming less and less draconian. It would appear that infringing on individual choices is politically profitable in Britain today.

It is little wonder, then, that the Conservative party continues to err on the side of greater state interference, despite the ideological mismatch it causes.

Whether we will truly find ourselves waking up one day to be greeted by Public Health England’s brave and healthy new world remains unclear.

Back in July, Boris Johnson vowed to review sin taxes and put an end once and for all to the “continuing creeping of the nanny state”, but since then, solid commitments or steps in that direction have not been forthcoming.

Perhaps, the nanny state seems appealing to many at the moment because we have not yet experienced fully-fledged nannyism in action.

If the current trend continues, we may find out by 2024 whether following Public Health England’s programme of taxes, ad bans and plain packaging will be enough to fight childhood obesity, or if yet more restrictions on choice will be on their way.

Originally published here.


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

The CCC represents consumers in over 100 countries across the globe. We closely monitor regulatory trends in Ottawa, Washington, Brussels, Geneva and other hotspots of regulation and inform and activate consumers to fight for #ConsumerChoice. Learn more at 
consumerchoicecenter.org

Sports fans likely to be hit by Thomas Cook’s collapse

We are now working alongside the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to assist affected customers and help them to find alternative holidays or organise cancellations and full refunds’.

TUI’s major rival Thomas Cook (TCG.L) collapsed on Monday after it failed to secure the funding it needed to continue trading, leaving more than 150,000 holidaymakers stranded overseas.

Around 6,000 passengers who flew with Thomas Cook from Belfast International Airport have been left stranded after the collapse of the travel company.

“If your Thomas Cook flights are not ATOL protected, your flights are now cancelled and you are not entitled to make a claim via the ATOL scheme, but you may be able to claim from your travel insurer or your credit card issuer or bank”.

Local travel agents have been busy trying to reorganise holiday plans for clients following today’s shock news about the collapse of Thomas Cook.

The CAA said: “If you are now overseas and your flight was with Thomas Cook we are providing new flights to return you to the UK”.

There are also people needing help who have booked through other travel companies using Thomas Cook flights.

Transport staff union TSSA, which has members at Thomas Cook in high street shops and in office operations, had previously urged the government to intervene to secure the future of the firm. Please don’t worry if you are travelling outside this and do not hear from us immediately. “There is no need to contact us, however we can be contacted on 0800 300 600”.

“The CAA and United Kingdom government are organising the flights back to the United Kingdom for Thomas Cook’s passengers originating from the United Kingdom now overseas and due to return to the United Kingdom on or before 6/10/2019”. Our resort teams will provide you with further information.

Thomas Cook customers in the United Kingdom yet to travel should not go to the airport as all flights leaving the United Kingdom have been cancelled. “Those customers who have bought a single trip policy and can not transfer the trip dates, we will be happy to refund the travel insurance premium in full”. They have already managed to make alternative arrangements for those booked with Thomas Cook in October, while they are still looking at options for clients booked for holidays in November and December.

Tottenham said only those who had booked coach travel for an away fixture against Brighton or purchased premium seats at the club’s own stadium were likely to be affected.

“While it is very unfortunate to be stranded at the end of a holiday, one should ask why taxpayers should pay for tourists who didn’t buy insolvency or travel insurance”, asserted Consumer Choice Centre’s London-based managing director Fred Roeder.

Asked about reports of hoteliers demanding holidaymakers pay again for their stay, Dame Deirdre said every hotel with an Atol-protected customer has been sent a letter guaranteeing that they will be paid.

Roeder added: “Airlines and tour operators going bankrupt happens regularly”.

Mr Cortes said they “will not give up the fight for jobs” and that the union is urgently seeking meetings with the government to discuss what happens next.

This article was originally published here.


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

The CCC represents consumers in over 100 countries across the globe. We closely monitor regulatory trends in Ottawa, Washington, Brussels, Geneva and other hotspots of regulation and inform and activate consumers to fight for #ConsumerChoice. Learn more at consumerchoicecenter.org

Boris Sparks Hope for Science

In his first speech as Prime Minister, Boris Johnson has delivered a promising outlook for the UK’s tech and agricultural sector, by committing to a more innovation-prospering future after Brexit. Johnson mentions “a bioscience sector liberated from anti genetic modification rules… we will be the seedbed for the most exciting and most dynamic business investments on the planet.” He also adds: “Let’s develop the blight-resistant crops that will feed the world”, in a move cheered by the National Farmers Union.

If you’re reading op-eds in the Guardian and blog entries from certain environmentalist groups, you’d think that this is some sort of gift from the PM for the sake of inflating British business. They’re mistaken, as unleashing scientific innovation in the United Kingdom means much more than that.

We know for instance that that growing a GM pest-resistant crop like this in the UK could save about £60 million a year in pesticide use. This is certainly good news for farmers, yet lest we forget – £60 million in savings means more leeway for competitive food pricing within the United Kingdom. With food prices in the EU rising by 2 per cent, the new government can send a powerful message that yes, food can become cheaper through more than just dropping tariffs, but through more efficient and technologically advanced farming. As of now, GM crops aren’t grown in the UK, but imported genetically modified soy is used for animal feed.

We also know that upcoming generations have much more favourable views towards scientific innovation in the agricultural sector than their parents. A 2018 poll of 1,600 18 to 30-year-olds, carried out for the Agricultural Biotechnology Council (ABC), found that two-thirds support agro-tech innovations – only 22 percent being concerned about the use of gene-editing or genetically-modified crops.

So why agro-tech, and why now?

As the UK looks towards a free trade future after the withdrawal from the European Union, Boris Johnson knows that the UK economy needs to be competitive and up to the challenge of changing environments and markets. Genetically-modified crops and gene-editing present amazing opportunities in the years to come, not only in the area of food, but also in patient choice. Gene-editing technologies could have a huge impact in reducing the death toll from diseases such as dengue fever, yellow fever, and the Zika virus.

This why the scientific community in the European Union will be more inclined with Boris Johnson than its own political leadership. 117 European research institutions have recently signed an open letter calling on ECJ to enable gene editing, bemoaning the strict legislation currently in place.

They write: “The strict legislation will make precision breeding hyper-expensive and, by consequence, a privilege of just a few large multinational companies. As such, European farmers will miss out on a new generation of hardier and more nutritious crop varieties that are urgently needed to respond to the results of climate change.”

One year ago, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) decided in Case C-528/16 that gene-editing should be treated the same way that genetically-modified organisms are handled at the moment, keeping them in essence practically illegal.

In the future, the European Union will have its own challenge of dealing with scientific innovation. For Boris Johnson, the hope needs to be that he can follow-up his promises with actions, delivering a prosperous era of innovation for Britain. By setting an example of breeding technologies and their benefits for human health and consumer choice, the UK could even become a new beacon of scientific research, to which the EU could eventually aspire to.

Originally published here

Scroll to top