Imperial Tobacco Canada outlined the public health risks posed by Health Canada's proposal to ban most flavored e-cigarettes, and called on the Department of health to turn to support effective measures to promote harm reduction and restrict the use of electronic cigarettes by adolescents.
Health Canada estimates that if the proposed ban on flavored e-cigarettes becomes law, at least 80% of e-cigarette flavors will have to be removed from the market.
Other evidence shows that the wide supply and use of flavored e-cigarette products is an important factor for a large number of smokers to turn to e-cigarette products. Flavored e-cigarette products are the basic elements to reduce harm products, because they meet the preferences of adult smokers seeking to replace traditional cigarettes.
Imperial Tobacco Canada said that since the legalization of e-cigarette products in Canada in 2018, people's misunderstanding of them has become more and more common, resulting in more and more opposition to the whole product category, most of which are related to the use of young people.
"Let me be clear. We agree that young people should not smoke e-cigarettes. However, the proposed taste restrictions will not prevent young people from smoking e-cigarettes, but will only encourage adult e-cigarette users to smoke again, not to mention that illegal e-cigarettes may reappear in the market. " Said Eric Gagnon, vice president of corporate and regulatory affairs at Imperial Tobacco Canada.
Health Canada's analysis shows that most adult e-cigarette users prefer the taste it tries to ban. In addition, Health Canada is pleased to acknowledge that its proposed restrictions will lead some e-cigarette users to smoke again or discourage existing smokers from switching to e-cigarettes.
"Switching more smokers who would have continued to smoke to e-cigarettes should be a key public health goal, not the opposite. That's what we see from more progressive governments in the rest of the world." Gagnon said.
The Ministry of health's proposal to ban all flavors except tobacco, mint and menthol is in sharp contrast to the approach adopted by major supporters of tobacco harm reduction, such as the UK. In the UK, a wider range of flavors, including fruit, are allowed, and the proportion of young people who often smoke e-cigarettes is still very low.
Imperial Tobacco Canada's submission highlights a number of studies that point to the importance of e-cigarette taste in supporting adult smokers to switch to cigarettes.
"Around the world, we have organizations like the British public health that say that the harm of e-cigarettes is 95% lower than that of smoking, and a number of scientific reports show that taste plays an important role in keeping smokers away from tobacco. But in Canada, over regulation and misinformation lead the public to believe that e-cigarettes are worse than smoking. Health Canada's own website points out that e-cigarettes are less harmful than smoking, but they choose to destroy the harm reduction potential of e-cigarettes by banning taste. " Gagnon said.
Imperial Tobacco Canada believes that there are better solutions to solve the problem of e-cigarette smoking among teenagers without damaging public health, including stricter enforcement of existing laws and the use of intelligent technologies.
The document submitted by Imperial Tobacco Canada highlighted a range of other solutions to reduce the problem of adolescent e-cigarette smoking, including a mandatory training program for all retailers, a strong age verification process for all sales (including online) and e-cigarette product delivery, and a strong law enforcement and punishment system for retailers and other third parties.
Gagnon explained: "there is no convincing evidence that Health Canada's spice ban will significantly reduce adolescent e-cigarette smoking. However, we know that the retail enforcement program is effective, and cutting-edge technology can further reduce the opportunities for teenagers to contact e-cigarettes. If Health Canada takes harm reduction and youth exposure seriously, they will accept science and technology rather than introduce destructive and unwise restrictions. "