In March 2015, the Canadian House of Commons Standing Committee on Health issued a report entitled “Vaping: Towards a regulatory framework for e-cigarettes.”
After meeting with witnesses, the Government of Canada introduced in Parliament Bill S-5, an Act to amend the Tobacco Act and the Non-smokers’ Health Act – to become the new Tobacco and Vaping Products Act (TVPA).
On August 25, 2017, Health Canada proposed 10 measures for the regulation of vaping products to be made under the proposed TVPA. This entailed a consultation process, which has concluded, and although the report has not been released, stakeholders have been informed of the findings – and include ground-breaking measures for the advertising of vape products.
The government says: “Comments on the proposed regulations were generally supportive, with some clear but expected differences of opinion and specific concerns identified by some groups.”
“The vaping industry and retailers cited vaping products as an important harm reduction tool that, in order to achieve its potential health benefits, should not be over-regulated.”
“Most submissions were made by members of the general public (43) and retailers, including vape shops (26), with most identifying themselves as vapers and former smokers. Of those who identified themselves as vapers, most framed vaping products as lifesaving, describing their past difficulties quitting smoking and how they used vaping products to finally stop smoking.”
Some will find it disappointing that only 43 vapers contributed to the process that will dictate what and how they buy products in future.
Most of the proposed regulations found strong support across all participants of the process – but when it came to being able to make supportive claims about vaping a surprise is in store.
Many agreed that being able to tell smokers about the relative risks of vaping was a good thing (Proposal 9) – something that opponents of vaping find very unpalatable.
“The tobacco industry expressed support for relative risk statements if they could also be allowed to make similar statements for different tobacco products (such as "heated" tobacco and smokeless tobacco). The tobacco industry commenters also advocated for product-specific reduced risk claims that are supported by science.”
This, and Proposal 10 (relating to advertising) could influence many other countries if it is included in legislation.
The list of proposed statements has been issued to stakeholders for comment, and reads:
- If you are a smoker, switching completely to vaping is a much less harmful option.
- While vaping products emit toxic substances, the amount is significantly lower than in tobacco smoke.
- By switching completely to vaping products, smokers are exposed to a small fraction of the 7,000 chemicals found in tobacco smoke.
- Switching completely from combustible tobacco cigarettes to e-cigarettes significantly reduces users’ exposure to numerous toxic and cancer-causing substances.
- Completely replacing your cigarette with a vaping product will significantly reduce your exposure to numerous toxic and cancer-causing substances.
- Switching completely from smoking to e-cigarettes will reduce harms to your health.
- Completely replacing your cigarette with an e-cigarette will reduce harms to your health.
Restrictions would be placed on where such advertising messages could be used. The government aims to limit advertising “in or near locations that are attended predominantly by youth, such as schools, parks, recreational and sporting facilities.” And, “would also be placed on advertising in certain media - for example, by either prohibiting advertisements on television and radio or restricting the times of the day when such ads may appear or be heard to limit youth exposure to them.”
David Hammond, a Professor at the University of Waterloo’s School of Public Health & Health Systems, said the proposals sets a new “regulatory precedent”.
Linda Bauld said of the proposals: “I can’t emphasise enough how important this is, discussed today SRNT 2018 Munich. Canada will be the first country in the world to allow manufacturers, retailers and health bodies to tell the truth about vaping vs. smoking.”
Obviously, not everybody is happy. Stanton Glantz has complained that the Canadian Ministry of Health’s plans “ignore recent understanding of health risks. The big problem is that these claims ignore everything we have learned about the dangers and use patterns of e-cigarettes in the last year or so.”
Glantz refers to his own ridiculous ‘study’ claiming that vaping increases the risks of hearts attacks, repeats the nonsensical stuff about “microparticles”, and engages in utter denialism when it comes to the tested contents of vapour.
The deluded professor suggests that these should be the only statements allowed by the Ministry of Health:
- Most people who use e-cigarettes continue to smoke; doing so will increase your overall chance of getting sick.
- You must stop smoking cigarettes when you use this product or your risk of disease will increase.
- E-cigarettes make it harder to stop smoking cigarettes for most people.
- People who start with e-cigarettes are likely to go on to smoke cigarettes.
Given that Canada has largely ignored his earlier submission to the consultation process it is likely that the wild contents of his letter will be treated in a similar fashion.
Now Health Canada will take the comments and develop wording for regulations under Bill S-5. It will then be put forward for royal assent. The process won’t be swift, but is a massive step in the right direction.