Recently Health Canada updated the section of their website that focused on vaping. This update is the latest progressive action by our national public health ministry.
In 2018, the Tobacco and Vaping Products Act (TVPA) became law in Canada. The legislation regulates the manufacture, sale, labeling, and promotion of vaping products sold in Canada.
From 2018 until recently, Public Health Units, health NGOs and Health Canada focused on ensuring that young people do not use products. A noble cause, but in the process, they ignored the over three million Canadians who smoke and who needed accurate information on potential harm reduced nicotine products. Over the years, the misinformation surrounding vaping flourished and a unfortunately, a significant number of Canadians who smoke believe that vapour products are just as harmful. .
In a recent report published by Health Canada it was noted “The Canadian Tobacco and Nicotine Survey (CTNS) 2021 noted that 17 percent of adults 20 and over who smoke and do not vape understood that vaping is less harmful than smoking cigarettes… Not understanding the relative risks associated with vaping versus smoking could lead Canadians to make uninformed decisions about hazards to their health.”
The over three million adult Canadians who smoke were ignored. The 100 daily deaths of tobacco-related illnesses were dismissed and inconsequential.
It is the responsibility of all levels of our public health system to share accurate and science-based information with Canadians. It is unacceptable for a group of people to be ignored by any Public Health body. With confidence, I can say that vaping is safer than smoking, and thankfully, after years of omitting Canadians who smoke from the conversation, Health Canada has stepped up and is finding the balance in sharing all the information when it comes to vaping.
Unfortunately, like many others in Ontario, my local health unit has decided to double down and continue to ignore and silence any narrative that would share good science about vaping with adult smokers.
Some of the common myths that Health Canada has finally addressed, but unfortunately not local public Health Units, are:
Vaping is as dangerous as smoking (False)
Electronic Cigarette use was the cause of Evali (False)
Vaping causes popcorn lung (False)
Vaping doesn’t help people quit smoking (False)
I am thankful that Health Canada has found its voice when it comes to vaping. I appreciate and value their leadership, hard work, and finding balance in communicating about vaping products to Canadians. I know that they have much work ahead of them. But so far, they are doing a good job.
One of the managers at HKPR shared with me recently that public health units in Ontario do not fall under Health Canada; they follow Ontario Health. Minister of Health Sylvia Jones, I ask that you be inspired by Health Canada and find a balance to ensure that those who smoke have access to accurate information about vaping.