Vapers in Canada are facing uncertainty as a new bill looks set to be passed through the lower house of Parliament which will cause chaos throughout the industry. If the bill goes through, Health Canada will be given the ability to pass extra restrictions on vaping products immediately that the bill is passed, with more restrictions to come in the future.
The lack of any powerful Canadian consumer groups, such as the British New Nicotine Alliance in the UK and the USA’s CASAA, has been one of the reasons why this bill has got so far, and vapers are now being encouraged to speak out against a law which would, for all intents and purposes, label vaping as a hazard to public health. It would also prevent Canadian vendors from presenting any truthful information about the benefits of e-cigarettes, restrict the labeling and description of flavors, give Health Canada the right to ban tanks, and to add any other anti-vaping rules that it likes.
Reactions To Bill S-5
Bill S-5 appears to make no sense, since, although it separates tobacco from vaping products by definition, vaping products are placed under the Tobacco Act. This Act is designed to limit, restrict and eliminate smoking products since they are damaging to the health, however vaping has no place under the Act since its products have been shown to not have the same health consequences as combustible tobacco. Yet, while some vendors have raised concerns about what effect passing the bill could have on their business, others remain unconcerned and vapers themselves seem unworried by the possibilities.
This blasé attitude is difficult to comprehend, since the problems which could arise from the passing of the bill could be enormous. A legal analysis of Bill S-5 has shown that there is a potential risk of a total ban being passed on vaping that is solely based on individual ideology and perceptions rather than scientific study and public health’s best interests.
The Purposes Of Bill S-5
Bill S-5 has a number of aims which it purports to be:
- To protect those who do not use tobacco products and young people from being induced to use e-cigarettes.
- To protect non-users and young people from exposure to nicotine and any dependence on the substance which could be the result of using vaping products.
- To protect young people’s health by restricting their access to any vaping products.
- To protect the public from deception with regard to the potential health problems associated with using e-cigarettes and to improve the public understanding of these hazards.
With such a strong focus on children and young people, the implication is that any steps taken following the passing of the bill will limit and prevent the sale of vaping products, full stop.
What Would Bill S-5 Do?
Should Bill S-5 go through parliament, it would have several severe consequences including:
- Vape stores would be forbidden by law from telling their customers the truth about vaping being a less harmful choice than tobacco cigarettes.
- Health Canada would have full control over the regulation of vaping products. Steps have already been made towards this, with the federal agency having already announced that all nicotine-containing vaping products must have a child-resistant cap.
- Many favorite flavors will be eliminated since manufacturers will no longer be able to describe them accurately. Flavor descriptions which suggest a dessert, soft drink or candy flavor will be banned, and the list could be amended by Health Canada at their own discretion.
- Potentially, American tobacco companies could move in and take over most of the Canadian vaping market. USA cigarette companies have the regulatory knowledge, distribution power and, above all, the finances to overwhelm the market.
- Canadian citizens’ constitutional rights will be violated.
Is There Anything Vapers Can Do?
Having begun in the Canadian Senate, Bill S-5 is working through the Canadian House of Commons. If Parliament approves it, it will receive royal assent and then become law. It will amend the current Tobacco Act, becoming the TVPA (or Tobacco and Vaping Products Act).
As yet, Bill S-5 is not definitely going to be passed, and therefore vapers and vendors of vaping products are encouraged to contact their MP as quickly as possible in an attempt to change the course of the legislation, pointing out the ways in which both smokers and vapers will be harmed by the restrictions and how important access to an affordable and effective product is essential when quitting smoking.