Firstly, congratulations on your recent electoral win.
I am writing to you on behalf of people who vape and smoke in Manitoba.
I understand that vaping is a very emotional topic and may not be high on the list of priorities in these uncertain times. However, access to vapour products, for us, and for smokers in Manitoba, is quite simply a question of life or death. Fundamentally, vaping should be treated as a harm reduction product and any legislation that treats vaping as tobacco, limits access to vaping products for adults and reducing the availability of flavours should not be considered.
More than 30 global and highly reputable public health bodies (including our own Health Canada) have recognized vaping as significantly less harmful than smoking and as an effective quit aid. Here are just a few examples of what they are saying:
Public Health England: “Our new review reinforces the finding that vaping is a fraction of the risk of smoking, at least 95% less harmful, and of negligible risk to bystanders. Yet over half of smokers either falsely believe that vaping is as harmful as smoking or just don’t know.”
British Medical Association: “Significant numbers of smokers are using e-cigarettes (electronic cigarettes), with many reporting that they are helpful in quitting or cutting down cigarette use.”
US Centers for Disease Control: “E-cigarettes have the potential to benefit adult smokers who are not pregnant if used as a complete substitute for regular cigarettes and other smoked tobacco products.”
We are grateful that Health Canada has become a more progressive voice on the vaping front. It has opened its doors to hearing the lived experiences of people who vape. In addition, it now states on its website that vaping is a less harmful alternative to smoking.
The problem is that provinces take measures into their own hands in the hopes of winning political points. Take Quebec for example. It has recently taken drastic action and banned all flavoured vaping products, including mint and menthol.
This will be disastrous for those who vape in Quebec. People who vape chose flavours because they do not want to be reminding of the taste of tobacco. We believe that the Quebec regulations will both forces some people who vape to return to smoking and discourage people who currently smoke from accepting vaping as a less harmful alternative. Either way, it is bad for public health.
I understand that the vaping file may be new to you. I would be happy to meet with you at your convenience to explain why it is critical that no new vaping regulations are enacted until their is robust consultations that includes all the since and the voice of consumers.
We, in Canada, have the potential to be on the vanguard of tobacco harm reduction. However, militant groups are feeding policy makers with outdated information. We would like to set the record straight.