Health Canada continues to confuse both the public, and itself, with its continuously fluctuating opinion on vaping as a smoking cessation tool.
As a part of Health Canada’s mandated parliamentary review of the 2018 Tobacco and Vaping Products Act (TVPA), the government held a public consultation on vaping this earlier year. The consultation was open until April 27, 2022, but its outcomes are only now just being seen.
In combination with some of the other recent changes made to further regulate the vaping industry in Canada, the consultation has led to more confusion on their standpoint on vaping as a means for tobacco harm reduction (THR).
The Government of Canada has also continued to increase regulations around vaping, bringing in new laws for manufacturers and importers just last month, as well as increasing the taxes on vaping products.
What Was Discussed?
The biggest problem with this latest consultation is the apparent change of heart the Canadian government seems to have had on vaping.
This is not the first type of consultation Health Canada has conducted, but instead of working together to further progress, the two seem to cancel one another out.
While the first consultation had a clear and good promotion of vaping as a means for THR, this consultation seems to be undoing these outcomes that already happened in September 2021.
Of course, this only seems to undo any of the progress that has already been made, while simultaneously contradicting and confounding.
“There are no legislative proposals to comment on, just a set of 22 questions so vague that if they were an attempt at a freedom-of-information request, they would be rejected on cost grounds,” said Inside Sources.
Furthermore, the consultation appeared to approach vapes with the same perspective as traditional cigarettes.
While vaping has been deemed much healthier than traditional cigarettes, comparing the few unknown health implications of vaping to the sheer mountains of evidence and data that demonstrate the undeniable harm that cigarettes cause seems to be the government’s attempts at conjuring fear.
“Solely focusing on unproven downsides of vaping, the headline discussion points of Health Canada’s questions speak of ‘protecting’ young people, of ‘restricting access,’ of the public being ‘deceived’ and ‘misled,’ and of ‘health hazards,’ the Inside Sources article continues. “This type of wording leads to misinformation and has a disastrous effect on smokers trying to quit.”
The question that remains is why has the opinion of the Canadian government turned around completely in just a few years.
Recent Regulations Put in Place
In addition to contradicting messages from Health Canada, recent tax regulations have only led to further confusion in the public eye about vaping.
From October 1, 2022, all vape manufacturers and importers have been required to become licensed or registered with the Canada Revenue Agency for tax purposes. This has meant that any of the products entering the market must have a vaping excise stamp and pay excise duty.
The Government of Canada has allowed for a transition period until the end of the year. After this, retailers will only be allowed to stock products with a vaping excise stamp.
While there is nothing inherently wrong with wanting to regulate any market to a certain degree, the actual taxation is what muddies the waters. With this additional excise tax, a huge draw of vaping is taken away as it becomes more heavily taxed and more expensive than traditional cigarettes.
This is just another source of confusion as it implies that Health Canada sees these vaping products are more problematic to the public than real cigarettes.
This, in turn, leads to the public eye viewing these products as equally or more dangerous than the real problem posed by traditional cigarettes.
Canada’s Confusing Views on Vaping
Canada used to be held in high regard for its promotion of vaping as a THR tool. However, this has slowly dwindled in recent times. The country was on track to follow in the United Kingdom’s footsteps by championing the benefits of vaping to help reduce the smoking population.
Worsening this is the fact that Health Canada does not seem able to make up its mind on where vaping fits into the continuum of risk.
At one point, it was clearly stated that vaping and e-cigarettes should be used to help the smoking population quit, even to the point of wanting to increase public awareness of the benefits of vaping.
“For adults who smoke, there appears to be a lack of awareness that vaping products are a less harmful source of nicotine for those who currently smoke and switch completely to vaping,” said a Discussion Paper released this year. “A 2020 survey found that only 22 percent of current smokers recognized that vaping is less harmful than smoking cigarettes.”
Even in the same year, there are contradicting statements on whether vaping should be promoted to fight smoking.
However, with this latest consultation, along with the hefty excise tax that has made traditional cigarettes more appealing than vaping, it could easily be said that Health Canada is now on the verge of demonizing vapes like the United States.
Continued regulations like these have only caused vaping to become less and less appealing in the public eye as its main benefits over smoking are stripped away. In the case of Health Canada implying vaping potentially holds as many long-term health risks as smoking, this is simply false.
Health Canada has continued to confuse itself and the public on the benefits of vaping with its most recent public consultation.
The country, which once promoted the use of vaping and e-cigarettes to reduce the harm caused by traditional cigarettes, now appears to be on a crusade against these beneficial products.
Increased taxation, tighter regulations, and literature riddled with confusing fear tactics have put Canada on track to follow in the United State’s footsteps, rather than the United Kingdom, which has demonstrated the harm reduction potential of adopting vaping.