Consumer Choice Center

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The Consumer Choice Center (CCC) is a not-for-profit lobby organisation which was set up in February 2017, with offices in the United States, Canada and the European Union (EU).1

The CCC says that it lobbies against “paternalistic” government regulations in over 100 countries,2 covering “food and agriculture policies, fat/sugar tax, soda tax, food labelling, health care and harm reduction, trade initiatives (TTIP /TTP), transportation and aviation regulations”.3

In 2019 it described itself as a “consumer advocacy group” and a “grassroots movement”.4

Background

The CCC’s parent organisation is Students For Liberty (SFL), an American libertarian student organisation linked to right-wing billionaires Charles and David Koch.5

The CCC received seed funding, and a further $210,296, from SFL.6 It describes itself as “totally open” to corporate donations.7

According to the EU transparency register, for the financial year 2016/17, the CCC declared a total income of €3,761,438 from unspecified donations,8 and €3,982,000 in 2017/18.9 It declared €1,000,000 in funding in 2019, again from undisclosed sources.10

The organisation has received financial support from consumer goods, energy, manufacturing, digital, healthcare, cryptocurrency and fin-tech industries.11 It has also received funding from the Atlas Network and the Geneva Network, as well as transnational tobacco companies (see below).12

Staff

CCC’s Managing Director is Frederik Roeder.1314

Other persons that work for, or have previously worked for the CCC:

Many CCC staff have previously held, or currently hold, roles within SFL.19

Relationship with the Tobacco Industry

CCC has received funding from Japan Tobacco International (JTI), who co-funded its launch event,1120 JTI was a member of CCC in 2017.2122 Upon request, JTI declined to disclose what this membership entailed and how much financial support was linked to it.23

In addition, CCC’s Frederik Roeder contributed to “Regulating Consumers?”, a Euractiv Special Report sponsored by JTI for €10,000.2425

In 2018, CCC stated that it had received funding from Philip Morris International.11 In the same year Altria donated an unspecified amount of money to CCC.26

In 2020,  CCC stated on its website that it received funding from British American Tobacco (BAT) for support of CCC’s “tobacco harm reduction advocacy”. CCC did not specify when the money was received, or if the financial support was ongoing.12 See below for CCC’s outputs relating to e-cigarettes and harm reduction.

For more on BAT’s harm reduction interests see Next Generation Products: British American Tobacco.

Attempt to Discredit World Health Organisation (WHO) and IARC

In September 2018, the CCC scheduled three strongly biased roundtables to discuss “WHO’s shortcomings in working towards better global public health and how the WHO actively blocks healthier technologies in the area of harm reduction”.27 The events also condemned the WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) assessment of the pesticide glyphosate as a probable human carcinogen. None of the invited speakers had public health qualifications.

London, 6 September 2018

Scheduled presentations at the London roundtable included:

  • “Public Funding of Public Health Activists” by Christopher Snowdon from the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA)
  • “Too busy with the wrong Priorities: Does the WHO suffer from Mission Creep?”, by CCC’s Bill Wirtz
  • “How the UK can become a leader in tobacco harm reduction”, Daniel Pryor from the Adam Smith Institute
  • “Foreign Aid for Public Health and Clandestine Maneuvering sic: Insights from the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control”, by CCC’s Fred Roeder

Brussels, 10 September 2018

At the Brussels roundtable, the following presentations were on the agenda:

  • “Too busy with the wrong Priorities: Does the WHO suffer from Mission Creep?”, by CCC’s Bill Wirtz
  • “The WHO and The International Agency for Research and Cancer (IARC): How evidence based policies are sabotaged by those who ought enforce them”, by Professor David Zaruk, Odisee University College
  • “Foreign Aid for Public Health and Clandestine Maneuvering sic: Insights from the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control”, by CCC’s Fred Roeder

Rome, 18 September 2018

The focus of the roundtable in Italy seemed to be on E-cigarettes and the product’s future in Italy. Listed external speakers were:

  • Carolina Pellegrini (Istituto Nazionale dei Tumori di Milano)
  • Daniele Capezzone (New Direction Italia)
  • Alessandro Colucci (Camera dei Deputati)

Harm Reduction Advocacy

In June 2020, CCC called for the “liberalisation of vaping”.28 It also put out a statement arguing that the US State of Georgia’s proposed tax on e-cigarettes would “harm poor consumers”.29

In October 2020, it published a report called “Vaping and the Gateway Myth”, co-written with the World Vapers Alliance.3031 The report did not state that CCC received funding from BAT for its “harm reduction advocacy”.

The World Vapers Alliance website lists CCC as a partner and states that it provided “seed funding”, although it does not give further details.32

Affiliations

  • CCC is a partner of the Atlas Network.33
  • In addition to being scheduled to speak at the anti-WHO event, the IEA was involved in launching the CCC in April 2017. Christopher Snowdon, the IEA’s “Head of Lifestyle Economics”, featured in the promotional video for the CCC’s launch event.34
  • At its launch event, the CCC disclosed that it “collaborated with” EPICENTER, a free-market think tank collective, set up and funded by the IEA.35
  • CCC was represented by Jeff Stier at the launch of Forest EU, a tobacco industry-funded pro-smoking group.36

TobaccoTactics Resources

TCRG Research

L. Robertson, A. Joshi, T. Legg T, et al., Exploring the Twitter activity around the eighth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, Tobacco Control Published Online First: 11 November 2020, doi: 10.1136/tobaccocontrol-2020-055889

Relevant Link

References

  1. Consumer Choice Center, FAQ, 2018, accessed July 2019
  2. Consumer Choice Center, About us, undated, accessed July 2019
  3. EU Transparency Register, Transparency Register Entry, 31 December 2018, accessed July 2019
  4. Consumer Choice Center, The Global Grassroots Movement for Consumer Choice, CCC website, accessed July 2019
  5. Corporate Europe Observatory, Big Tobacco and right-wing US billionaires funding anti-regulation hardliners in the EU, 20 July 2017, accessed July 2019
  6. Students For Liberty, 2017 Annual Report, available from www.studentsforliberty.org, 2017 (undated), accessed March 2018
  7. H. Cooper, Q. Ariès, POLITICO Brussels Influence: Consumers for liberty — EU breaches justice rules, POLITICO, 24 March 2017, accessed July 2019
  8. Consumer Choice Center, Transparency Register Entry, 10 January 2018, accessed February 2018
  9. Consumer Choice Center, Transparency Register Entry, 31 December 2018, accessed July 2019
  10. Consumer Choice Center, Transparency Register Entry, 29 April 2020, accessed October 2020
  11. abcConsumer Choice Center, Frequently Asked Questions, undated, archived 13 June 2018, accessed January 2020
  12. abConsumer Choice Center, About Us, undated, accessed October 2020
  13. F. Roeder, Frederik Cyrus Roeder, LinkedIn profile, accessed January 2018
  14. Consumer Choice Center, Meet the Team, CCC website, accessed July 2019
  15. A. Cleave, LinkedIn Profile, undated, accessed January 2018
  16. Consumer Choice Center Adam Cleave, accessed July 2019
  17. Consumer Choice Center Jeff Stier, undated, accessed July 2019
  18. Tobacco Reporter, Stier joins consumer body, 9 January 2018, accessed July 2019
  19. Consumer Choice Center Staff, undated, accessed July 2019
  20. Y. Ossowski, Email to Corporate Europe Observatory, Consumer Choice Center, 22 June 2017, archived 21 February 2018, accessed December 2020
  21. EU Transparency Register, Japan Tobacco International Entry, 16 November 2017, accessed July 2019
  22. Japan Tobacco International, lobbyfacts.eu, register entry, 2017 register entry, accessed December 2020
  23. Japan Tobacco International, Email reply to Tobacco Control Research Group, Subject: Re: REF GB-18-01469/NCC/TRM, 26 February 2018 08:48
  24. F. Roeder Weighing the tradeoffs of joy versus long term health, Euractiv, 19 June 2017, accessed July 2019
  25. Euractiv, Email reply to Tobacco Control Research Group, Subject: Re: General inquiry – Message From the Team Page, 27 April 2018, 12:01
  26. Altria, 2018 Recipients of Charitable Contributions from the Altria Family of Companies, archived 20 March 2020, accessed December 2020
  27. Consumer Choice Center, Does the WHO act in the interest of Global Public Health? -London 6 September, 2018, accessed July 2019
  28. Consumer Group Urges Liberal Tobacco Policies, Tobacco Reporter, 1 June 2020, accessed October 2020
  29. Consumer Choice Center, Georgia’s Proposed Vape and Nicotine Tax Will Hurt Poor Consumers, 25 June 2020, accessed October 2020
  30. Consumer Choice Center, Vaping and the Gateway Myth, website, undated, accessed October 2020
  31. M. Chaplia, M. Landl, Vaping and the Gateway Myth, report by CCC and World Vapers Alliance,  October 2020, accessed October 2020
  32. World Vapers Alliance, About Us, website, undated, accessed October 2020
  33. Atlas Network, Global Directory, 2018, accessed July 2019
  34. Consumer Choice Center, Launch of the Consumer Choice Center 16 April 2017, YouTube video footage, published on 2 May 2017, accessed July 2019
  35. M. Hope, Lobby Group Tied to Koch Brothers, Brexit Climate Deniers Pushes ‘Strong Pro-Corporate Agenda’, Ecowatch, 20 July 2017, accessed July 2019
  36. S. Clark, Forest EU launch party, Taking Liberties blog, 2 June 2017, accessed July 2019
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