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Narcos 3.0: Mexico declares War on Vaping and repeats old prohibitionists mistakes

When Mexico’s far-left President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (or short AMLO) ran for office in 2018, he and his platform promised an end to the decade-long war on drugs in Mexico. He acknowledged that prohibitionist policies cause more harm than they do good. Ironically that same President issued a surprise presidential decree on February 19 banning the import of e-cigarettes, vapes, and heated tobacco products. The order even forbids the import of nicotine-free vaping liquids.

AMLO declared the War on Vaping

The Presidential decree relies heavily on scare tactics, invoking the U.S. “vaping crisis” to justify Mexico’s ban. But even the U.S. CDC and AMLO’s decree concede the “vaping crisis” was actually caused by illicit black market vaping liquids. Pushing Mexican vapers to the black market will exactly cause what the order claims it is trying to prevent: more lung diseases.

Even before this decree, Mexico had opaque vaping regulations, that had to be clarified by a supreme court ruling and allowed at least certain manufacturers to sell e-cigarettes to the country’s roughly 1.2 million vapers.

These vapers are now being left alone with no access to nicotine products that are less harmful than conventional cigarettes, and that in times of lockdowns and people spending most of their week at home thanks to COVID. Two scenarios are most likely to happen if the decree does not get annulled:

  • Narcos 3.0: Mexico has a well developed black market for illicit substances, and, as regular Netflix viewers know, it serves as a massive transit hub for the global drug trade. It wouldn’t take much for organized crime to either smuggle legal vaping products from neighboring countries into Mexico and sell them on the black market or (even more concerning) sell counterfeited vaping liquids to Mexican vapers. The vaping crisis in the United States, which the Presidential decree instrumentalizes for its ban, was caused by illicit black market vaping liquids. Pushing Mexican vapers to the black market will exactly cause what the order tried to prevent: More lung diseases. 
  • Back to the ciggie: Even is the more dramatic scenario of a booming vaping black market might not come true (mainly due to the low margins on nicotine products compared to Cannabis or Cocaine), we would still see over a million vapers left behind. It is more likely that most of them will switch back to smoking regular cigarettes instead of switching to nicotine patches or entirely quit. That, in turn, would also lead to worse public health outputs.

We can see that AMLO’s decree will have serious, negative unintended consequences contrary to its own objectives.

Perhaps the most concerning is that the World Health Organization lauded Mexico’s vaping ban as a public health achievement, it fails to recognize that Mexico’s anti-vape stance will keep smokers and nicotine consumers locked in with combustible cigarettes. This policy deprives them of the choice to switch to the 95% less harmful vapes. The Consumer Choice Center’s interactive vaping map shows that up to 3.3 million additional Mexican smokers could switch to vaping if the government would emulate the UK’s progressive and science-based vaping laws.

Better vaping policies could help millions of Mexicans

So instead of cracking further down on vaping, Mexico should embrace tobacco harm reduction. Due to COVID and the parliamentary schedule, the Mexican Congress is currently out of session. Still, there is a window for legislative action when Congress returns to operation in the fall.

Consumer groups, vaping advocates, and the scientific community need to use this window of opportunity to explain more Mexican politicians and regulators the benefits of vaping and help busting myths around the United States’ vaping crisis. Initial protests against this misguided decree started already in March. This multi-lingual paper on the Myths and Facts on Vaping, written by my colleagues Yael Ossowski and Bill Wirtz explains the reasons behind the perceived vaping crisis in the US and is also available in Spanish. Probably an essential message in this paper for politicians is this one:

MYTH #3: VAPING IS THE CAUSE OF RECENTLY REPORTED RESPIRATORY ILLNESSES

Much cause for concern of late has been a flurry of reports of illness and hospitalizations blamed on traditional vaping devices and liquids. The CDC has reported nearly 380 cases of lung illnesses related to vaping. Sensational headlines and opinion articles have convinced leaders in several states and even President Donald Trump to consider banning vaping flavors outright.

But careful analysis of the reported cases reveals that a vast majority of the patients with symptoms were found to have used illicit vape cartridges mixed with the cannabis compound THC. 

A study in the New England Journal of Medicine that examined cases in Illinois and Wisconsin found that 84% of hospitalized patients report using illicit THC vaping cartridges prior to their illness. No illnesses have yet been tied to store-bought vaping pods or liquids containing nicotine.

To that end, two Wisconsin brothers were recently arrested in connection with a multi-million dollar operation that mixed various chemicals (including Vitamin E) with THC in cartridges meant for vaping devices, which they then sold illegally. Authorities have identified this large scheme spread across much of the Midwest as a culprit in the recent lung illnesses there.

What this reveals is that illicit vaping products sold on black markets, rather than licensed retailers, have actually caused the most severe of the lung illnesses reported in the media. 

As such, a ban on regulated devices and liquids, whether with flavors or not, would not address the problem as it currently exists.

By pushing vaping into the black market and Mexican vapers going back to the cigarette, AMLO will (despite the thunderous applause from the World Health Organization) further weaken Mexico’s public health outputs. If he is passionate about fighting lung diseases he should make access to legal and safe ways of consuming nicotine easier and not harder. Everything else is just a stimulus program for organized crime and lung specialists.

Global Consumer Group Calls for Defunding WHO, Praises Trump’s Probe

Consumer Choice Center, a global consumer advocacy group, is launching a campaign to defund the World Health Organization (WHO) and is praising President Donald Trump for his remarks at Tuesday’s coronavirus press briefing when he said he would be looking into the massive funding the United States gives to WHO annually.

Trump at the press briefing criticized how WHO had not been transparent about the coronavirus and its genesis and evolution in China.

“They called it wrong … we’re gonna put a hold on money spent to the WHO,” Trump said. “We’re going to put a very powerful hold on it.”

“It’s a good thing when it works, but when they call every shot wrong, that’s no good,” Trump said.

“President Trump’s decision speaks to the larger inefficiencies and issues of transparency and accountability that have plagued the World Health Organization in recent years,” Yaël Ossowski, deputy director at the Consumer Choice Center, said in a statement he distributed to the press.

“While the failures of the WHO have only recently gotten publicity, this has been a long time coming,” Ossowski said.

Ossowski outlined some of those inefficiencies in his statement.

“It has been revealed that the WHO spends up to $200 million per year, or $28,500 per staffer, on travel costs alone, more than the budgets of combatting AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria combined,” Ossowski said. “Not to mention they’ve been known to host extravagant galas and conferences that do not further global public health.”

“We witnessed this during the Ebola epidemic in western Africa in 2013-14, where the WHO was too slow to respond and inadequate in health policies, and we’re seeing it in realtime with COVID-19,” Ossowski said.

“The WHO and its Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus have cozied up to the Chinese Communist Party since the beginning of the outbreak and praised their failures,” Ossowski said. “Even as late as January 19th, the WHO parroted the Chinese Communist Party’s narrative that human-to-human transmission of the novel coronavirus was very unlikely.”

“Now is the time to send a clear signal that the WHO needs to be transparent and accountable for their failures,” Ossowski said.

“In 2017, Consumer Choice Center led the efforts in calling on the United States and member nations to cut funding to the WHO to realign their priorities toward health emergencies such as the very real pandemic we currently face,” Ossowski said. “The WHO has failed in its principal mission and it needs to be defunded. We applaud President Trump for his bold move.”

According to the World Health Organization, the United States as a “member state” has an assessed contribution owed to the organization for 2020-2021 of $115,766,922.

The United States is the largest donor to the World Health Organization of all countries that are member states.

“We’re going to make a determination about what we’re doing,” Trump said at the daily coronavirus press briefing on Wednesday at the White House.


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

Everything Wrong with Cancer Warning Labels

Everything Wrong with Cancer Warning Labels

“BACON…, HOT COFFEE…, RED MEAT…, COCONUT OIL…
WHAT DO THEY HAVE IN COMMON?

You’ve may have thought: THEY’RE DELICIOUS. 
WRONG.

According to the World Health Organization’s INTERNATIONAL AGENCY FOR RESEARCH ON CANCER (IARC), all these foods “PROBABLY” or “POSSIBLY” can give you cancer.

Each year, this France-based agency published new studies known as monographs claiming to establish what is carcinogenic. So far, they’ve listed over 500 substances as DEFINITELY or POTENTIALLY carcinogenic, including your morning cup of coffee and the herbicide you use in your garden. In 48 years, they’ve only found one – JUST ONE – that isn’t.

These declarations have a sweeping impact not only on the products on the shelves, and how they’re regulated and taxed, but also the billions of dollars of lawsuits against these products.

CAN YOU SAY PAYDAY?

This is where science is trumped by money and lawyers.

IARC willfully confuses the relationship between “hazard” and “risk”. Hazard is something that can cause harm, risk explains how likely it is that it will. The sun is a hazard, because exposure to it can cause skin conditions. However, to most people the sun is not a risk, because they limit their exposure in summer, or apply sun cream. As with EVERYTHING ELSE, it’s a question of dosage.

For example, in 2016 the Munich Environmental Institute cast doubt on the safety of beer, claiming it can cause cancer. What they left out was that you needed to drink 1000L of beer a day for it to actually be harmful to health. Arguably, after 1000L of beer, the fact that it might be carcinogenic will be the least of your problems.

IARC STUDIES ARE LIKE A BAT SIGNAL TO THOUSANDS OF TORT LAWYER FIRMS.

What these experts conclude, therefore, becomes scientific dogma, regardless of the science.

WHY IS THIS PROBLEMATIC?

Experts at IARC have often been caught colluding with lawyers who stand to benefit from future lawsuits.

In the case of BENZENE and GLYPHOSATE, they have been accused of manipulating the science to arm trial lawyers. Researches have been ringing the alarm on IARC’s corruption of science for years.

That means hundreds of bogus lawsuits, bad public policy and bad information for consumers.

WHO BENEFITS WHEN SCIENCE IS CORRUPTED? 

LET’S UPHOLD SCIENCE RATHER THAN POLITICS. BECAUSE WE DESERVE BETTER


FOR MORE ARTICLES AND PUBLICATIONS ON SCIENCE AND HEALTH, CLICK HERE.

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