New study reveals discoveries in cigarettes and alcohol sector could have seismic effects on public health, but are currently blocked by “morality police”

  • Alcohol responsible for 10% of UK death and disease
  • New synthetic alcohol, Alcosynth, 100 times safer and hangover free
  • Alcosynth faces harsh regulation despite being a major public health benefit
  • E-cigarettes 95% safer than combustible cigarettes but can’t market themselves as such
  • Post-Brexit Britain has the chance to be a leader in ‘vice’-related risk reduction and save thousands of lives every year – if it allows innovation to flourish

The UK has the opportunity to be a world leader in reducing the risks of drinking and smoking following its exit from the European Union, a new paper from the Adam Smith Institute released this morning reports.

The new study reveals how heavy-handed EU and UK government regulations have held back the development of safer alternatives to drinking and smoking, with public health officials pursuing abstinence campaigns to the detriment of risk reduction products that could save thousands more lives every year.

The report includes interviews with the developer of a new synthetic alcohol which gives users the sensation of being tipsy without the hangover or long term health hazards. The product, currently named ‘Alcosynth’, could be up to 100 times safer than the real thing but is blighted by regulatory burdens that are holding safer products back from consumers.

With as much as 10% of UK deaths and diseases caused by alcohol consumption, and upwards of 60 medical conditions associated with drinking, these risk reduction products should be taken seriously as public health goods, the paper argues. 

Despite slashing smoker numbers, e-cigarettes been hampered by regulation. Although they are 95% safer than combustible cigarettes according to Public Health England, e-cig companies are unable to market their comparative health benefits to the public, and the latest round of EU regulations will make the development of newer, better, and safer e-cigarettes for consumers much more difficult.

As the latest innovation of ‘heat not burn’ tobacco products is brought to market the report underlines the importance of fostering innovation and competition on safety. Regulators are becoming increasingly restrictive rather than fostering innovative and satisfying alternatives to smoking and drinking.

Theresa May’s government would be wise to utilise Brexit to throw out regulation like the the EU’s Tobacco Products Directive and save thousands of lives a year. Replacing it with a system of ‘permissionless innovation’ where a regulatory pathway for safer products to be developed and marketed is created, both by big players and by new entrants to the market.

Sam Bowman, Executive Director of the Adam Smith Institute, said:
“It’s innovation not regulation that got us e-cigarettes. They emerged and prospered in spite of regulation, proving to be the best way to get people to quit quickly that we know of. But despite this, misguided public health officials are trying to clamp down on them because of evidence-free and dangerous fears that they ‘normalise’ smoking.

“Other products like synthetic alcohol and reduced-risk tobacco products promise to repeat the success of e-cigs for new people, but only if we let them. It is crucial that the government does not stand in the way of hangover-free alcohol.

“Regulation must be flexible and encouraging of new products that are safer than the vices they’re competing with. Britain can be a world leader in safe alternatives to alcohol and cigarettes, but we need regulation that foster those things instead of stamping them out.”

Notes to editors:

For further comments or to arrange an interview, contact Flora Laven-Morris, Head of Communications, at flora@adamsmith.org | 07584 778207.

To report “SINNOVATION: How markets can solve public health problems” will be live on the Adam Smith Institute website from 00:01 Friday 23rd September 2016 and is available here in advance.

The Adam Smith Institute is a free market, libertarian think tank based in London. It advocates classically liberal public policies to create a richer, freer world.

Sam Bowman discusses the difference between a hard and soft Brexit with the Daily Express

Sam Bowman, Executive Director of the Adam Smith Institute, spoke with the Daily Express this week, explaining the difference between a hard and soft Brexit. The piece reported:

Sam Bowman, executive director of free market think tank the Adam Smith Institute, argued that most voters would prefer a soft exit that does not “wreck the economy”. He said: “I think we are going to get a soft Brexit. I think that the political will is not there for a hard Brexit.” 
Mr Bowman, who advocates a soft EU exit, said that the popular terms came from the idea that there will be either a soft or hard hit to the economy. He said: “A soft Brexit is one where you have an extensive free trade agreement or stay in the European Economic Area and single market.” 
But he said that a hard Brexit would see the UK leave the EU and single market altogether without much of a free trade agreement with the EU. Mr Bowman said that the soft Brexit camp believes that UK should take its time in leaving the economic aspects of the EU “very carefully”.
Mr Bowman said that immigration was the key “sticking point” in talks over striking a soft Brexit deal with the EU. But he suggested that the UK try to stop stop EU migrants from getting benefits, coming over without a job offer or bring family.

Read the piece in full here


Network Fail report keeps the coverage rolling in

The ASI's recent paper on the failures of Network Rail and the HS2 project has continued to draw attention from the press.

Andrew Marr discussed the "damning report" on Radio 4 Start the Week with guests Sir John Armitt, the President of the Institution of Civil Engineers, and Dame Margaret Hodge.

The Mail Online also covered the story over the weekend, reporting:

"Last week a hard-hitting report the Adam Smith Institute described the high speed link as 'economically irresponsible' and said 'the numbers simply do not stack up'. The thinktank said the £56billion earmarked for the project would be better spent on building quicker train links between Manchester and other Northern cities like Leeds to boost the economy in the North of England. 
"MPs on the public accounts committee last week warned that ministers had failed to set out realistic estimates of the likely cost and construction timetable for rail link. 
They said the Department for Transport's timetable was 'overly ambitious'.
They also raised doubts over the DfT's claim that it had found savings of up to £9billion in the £28.5billion budget for phase two, questioning if they could be made 'without adversely affecting the benefits of the programme'."

Latest ASI Border Force paper inspires Daily Mail channel crossing

The ASI's latest report, "The Border after Brexit: How technology can secure Britain’s borders", has inspired one Daily Mail journalist to make the journey across the channel in an inflatable boat.

Journalist Sue Reid made the 31 mile journey to Dover from Gravelines saying:

"This [journey] coincided with a chilling report by an influential think-tank, the Adam Smith Institute, which warned that Britain is being left ‘exposed’ to a terrorist attack by its failure to check thousands of people arriving from abroad.
"To find out how easy it is to slip unchallenged into Britain by sea, I hired a skipper and a RIB (rigid inflatable boat) with an outboard motor from a maritime firm near Rye to take us from the Kent coast to France — and then, crucially, to make the return journey."

The article appeared in print and online and can be read in full here.

Sam Dumitriu shows front page support for Uber in City AM

Head of Projects, Sam Dumitriu, made the front page of City AM this week following the news that Sadiq Khan will require Uber drivers to take an english test. Sam said:

"Rather than regulating Uber and protecting black cabs, Sadiq should show that London is open to competition. 
"He should lobby to remove the restrictions that ban the ride-sharing business models of competitors like Lyft to give consumers a real choice. The mayor's proposals have been welcomed by the London Taxi Driver Association but could be subject to further consultation."

Read the full article here

Britain’s struggling Border Force is in no state to manage a post-Brexit migration crackdown, Sam Bowman writes for City AM

On the back of his latest paper, "The Border after Brexit: How technology can secure Britain’s borders", Sam Bowman wrote for City AM:

When we leave the EU, we may bring in work permits or some other way of controlling immigration from Europe. The home secretary confirmed that this was on the table this weekend.
To do this, however, we will need to overhaul our Border Force. In a new report released this week, I outline the deep problems that face the Border Force in carrying out its current duties, which Brexit will only add to.
The Force is under-equipped and reliant on outdated technology to do a job that is increasingly demanding, as passenger flows rise and the danger of terrorist attacks continues. It simply does not have the tools it needs to do its job, and nobody seems willing to take responsibility for fixing that.
Passport control is the most visible of the Border Force’s roles, and every traveller dreads a slow queue after a long-haul flight. Even in this role, the Force is not performing well.

We need a modern, integrated system based on biometric technology that allows for fast, accurate and easy identification of travellers as they enter and exit the country. We don’t need to build this ourselves – the government would be better off buying the technology from the private sector.

The Border Force has been failed by Whitehall, and cannot do its job properly. Someone needs to grasp the nettle and take responsibility for giving it the tools it needs.

Border Force paper gets a clean sweep of national media coverage

The ASI's latest paper, The Border after Brexit: How technology can secure Britain’s borders, has received widespread coverage following its release.

The Sunday Times reported:

The report by the Adam Smith Institute, a free market think tank, identified findings buried in a review of airport security by David Bolt, the independent chief inspector of border and immigration.
The watchdog found that the Border Force had overlooked the 23 flights because it had failed to properly check their details against security databases and watch lists.

The Daily Telegraph reported:

The UK’s Border Force is in disarray after years of neglect, while the rising number of passengers has stretched the organisation to breaking point, the Adam Smith Institute warns.
While passenger numbers through Britain’s ports and airports have risen by a fifth this decade and are expected to rise by another 43 per cent by 2030, funding for border checks has been slashed, the think tank says.

The Sun reported:

Despite being responsible for monitoring the 225 million annual arrivals in the UK, “years of neglect” have left the force without the up to-date equipment it needs to carry out checks properly, it is claimed today.
The new study by the Adam Smith Institute has also found that more than £1 billion has been wasted in “crippling failures” by the agency.

The Daily Mail reported: 

In another blow, a report by the Adam Smith Institute claimed the Border Force was failing to screen more than 4,000 high-risk flights a year. The think-tank based its claim on an investigation by David Bolt, the Independent Chief Inspector of Border and Immigration.
Sample checks carried out over two days found that 23 so-called ‘high risk’ flights – 7.5 per cent of the total – were missed by the Border Force. Over the course of a year, this equates to 4,197 flights slipping through the net.

Mail Online reported:

Most of the unidentified flights would be charter planes and private aircraft that land at remote airfields and do not handed over passenger information to UK authorities in advance.
But they can include commercial flights from countries such as Turkey, Yemen and Pakistan. The findings were buried in a review of airport security by Mr Bolt and identified by the Adam Smith Institute, which is publishing a report on the UK Border Force tomorrow.

The Daily Express reported:

The institute concluded that the Government must thoroughly modernise the force, introducing a biometric scanning system in partnership with the private sector. The report also concluded that the Border Force had been failed by successive governments due to financial constraints and “hapless management” by Whitehall mandarins.

Metro reported:

At least one Daesh terrorist has sneaked in and out of the UK unchecked in findings that show the Border Force is in 'complete disarray', it claims. The unit, which screens 225 million visitors a year, is 'not fit for purpose' the Adam Smith Institute has said.

The Mirror reported:

It calls for a new computer system to help track who is entering the country and beef-up controls. And it wants every passenger coming to Britain screened to ensure they are not a threat.
Its report says: “The Advance Passenger Information System is an international standard that exists to give advance notice to border agencies of all passengers en route to their destination, giving those agencies time to check and decide on how to treat questionable passengers before they arrive.

The Scotsman reported:

Sam Bowman, executive director of the Adam Smith Institute, said: “A successful Border Force needs to do two things: keep people out of the country who should not be allowed in, and do so without causing unnecessary disruption to other passengers.

Sam Bowman appeared on BBC 5 Live to discuss the paper, which also went out across all BBC regional stations.


New study reveals crippling failures in control of Britain’s border leaving high risk travelers unchecked

  • British Border Force in complete disarray after years of neglect
  • Rising passenger numbers straining stretched force to breaking point
  • As many as 4,197 high-risk flights not physically met by Border Force each year
  • Brexit call for tighter controls over immigration must be met
  • Failed reform attempts have cost the taxpayer £1 BILLION
  • UK needs fully revamped computer system to secure borders

Britain’s Border Force has been let down by successive governments and left in a state of complete disarray, according to a new report released by the Adam Smith Institute this morning.
Britain’s overrun Border Force is responsible for inspecting and screening around 225 million incoming travelers to the UK each year, from major airports to the smallest sea port, but has not been given the up-to-date equipment it needs to carry out checks on passengers efficiently or securely.

 This has allowed some ‘high-risk’ travelers to enter and leave the country unchecked – including at least one ISIS member. The report reveals that while the Border Force claims to process 99% of high-risk flights, as many as 4,197 of these flights are not actually met by Border Force agents, risk assessed or remotely checked against a security database, as is supposed to happen.
While passenger numbers have risen by 20% since 2010, and are expected to rise by a further 43% by 2030, the Border Force’s funding has been slashed. Spending per passenger is down 25% and morale in the Force is at an all-time low, with staff reporting that they do not have the resources needed to do their job properly.
The vote for Brexit reflected the public demand for control over UK borders and showed the catastrophic lack of trust in the current system. Having control over the border is not merely a phrase, argues the report – we must know who is coming into the country and have the ability to block them from doing so if the law requires it. The current system is not fit for purpose and some parts of the Border Force’s national security systems are fourteen years out of date.
Previous attempts to reform the system have been disastrous failures, estimated to cost the taxpayer in excess of £1 billion. Rather than turning to private firms demonstrating working systems, the Home Office chose the expensive, risky and time-consuming project of designing one in-house, which ultimately failed.
The UK needs a fully digitalized system that is future-proof to foreseeable advances in international standards. Biometric passports that contain more data than just written information or inaccurate facial recognition, collected during international travel as standard. This must be accurate, fast and non-invasive such as fingerprint scans.

Sam Bowman, Executive Director of the Adam Smith Institute and author of the paper, said:

“A successful Border Force needs to do two things: keep people out of the country who should not be allowed in, and do so without causing unnecessary disruption to other passengers. In both these respects the Border Force is not succeeding. Its security systems are out of date, overstretched and failing to cover all passengers adequately. It’s astonishing that potentially thousands of high-risk flights are not being checked properly by the Border Force.
“Its target times for vetting inbound passengers are extremely generous, and even then they are regularly not met. With the technology available it should be possible for regular visitors from low-risk countries such as the United States or Japan to walk through British customs like a visitor walks in and out of the Underground network.”
Ed West, co author of the paper, said:
“Brexit is unlikely to mean a reduction in immigration. Visitor numbers are only likely to increase as Asia's middle class grows, and it's vital that we not only successfully attract visitors and investors from around the world but that the public can trust the system in place to protect us.

“Increasingly research shows the importance of trust for successful societies, political systems and economies. The public must have faith in the country’s borders. The alternative is much blunter policy tools that restrict immigration of legitimate, productive migrants even more, and creates a deep suspicion and sense of fear about foreigners in Britain.”
Notes to editors:

For further comments or to arrange an interview, contact Flora Laven-Morris, Head of Communications, at flora@adamsmith.org | 07584 778207.

To report ‘The Border after Brexit: How technology can secure Britain’s borders’ will be live on the Adam Smith Institute website from 00:01 Monday 12th September 2016 and is available here in advance.

The Adam Smith Institute is a free market, libertarian think tank based in London. It advocates classically liberal public policies to create a richer, freer world.

Network Fail inspires Times leader and ITV News report

The ASI's latest paper, Network Fail, inspired this morning's Times leader "Money Pit: It is not inevitable that every big infrastructure project should cost billions and still soar over budget. Ministers must be held to account".

The article noted:

The most pernicious orthodoxies are those that evolve out of indifference. In Britain today it is accepted as inevitable that whenever a politician promises a new public project, the eventual cost will be far higher than the one first pledged.
HS2, the high-speed rail line, currently has a budget of £55 billion. This week, the Adam Smith Institute suggested the cost could rise to close to £80 billion. Yesterday The Times reported that the cost of renovations to the House of Commons could exceed £4 billion. 

Our Head of Research, Ben Southwood, also took to our screens to discuss the paper and the soaring costs of HS2 on ITV News.

Latest paper, Network Fail, makes for good commuter reading

The ASI's latest report, Network Fail: Getting UK Rail Back on Track, made this morning's papers. Featuring as the lead story in The Sun's city section and The Times homepage leader as well as the Daily Express, City AM and the Mail Online.

The Times reported:

The High Speed 2 rail project will cost up to nine times more than similar tracks in France and should be scrapped, the prime minister has been told. It would be “economically irresponsible” to press ahead with the project because the eventual costs could rise to £80 billion, according to an analysis by the Adam Smith Institute, a free-market think tank.
Running the trains at higher speeds, the need for new stations and the lack of existing expertise in building high-speed lines have all been blamed for making the construction of HS2 more expensive than projects overseas.

The Sun reported:

Ministers must sell off part of Network Rail to ease Britain's train chaos, a think tank urges today. It recommends that up to 49.9 per cent of the UK's track operator should be offloaded to smaller rail companies.
The Adam Smith Institute said efficiency would improve if they were responsible for the lines their trains run on - while £8billion would be raised for the public purse to boot.

The Daily Express reported:

Experts at the Adam Smith Institute called for Network Rail to be sold off by the Government and for the £50billion HS2 High Speed rail line to be scrapped.

City AM reported:

Southwood said that he didn’t think that Southern ought to be stripped of the franchise, as has been advocated by the London Assembly today. This is because of the way the franchise agreement is structured as a management contract.
He said the fact that Department for Transport tells Southern Rail exactly how to operate and then pays it a management fee for doing so undermines the whole process. “If you tell them everything to do then you are not really running a private company,” he said.

Mail Online reported:

The report called for the return of "vertical integration" in the rail network with smaller lines being progressively stripped from NR, and in the longer term regional railway companies emerging. More competition between operators should be promoted, according to the institute. Fewer than 1% of passenger miles travelled in Britain are on lines where competition exists through open access concessions.

The paper was also covered by 140 regional titles and rail trade publications.