Continued from previous page.
Why would Canada continue to ban e-cigarettes?
The official “reasoning” can be found in the “E-cigarette Fact Sheet” published in October of 2011, “The sale of these electronic smoking products is not authorized in Canada. The products may pose health risks and have not been fully evaluated by Health Canada.”26
Electronic cigarettes have been available world-wide since 2008. What are they waiting for? How many years will Health Canada require to complete their evaluation? Meanwhile, smokers continue to die.
…heavily taxed tobacco products have become a lucrative source of state revenue.”
Laura Conzo Brady, eCigs HQ Editor
Progressive social-welfare states like Canada have long championed the concept of harm-reduction healthcare policies. “Harm reduction is a framework for public health policy that focuses on reducing the harmful consequences of recreational drug use without necessarily reducing or eliminating the use itself.”27 Accepting the premise that intravenous drug use cannot be eradicated, harm reduction advocates espouse the proliferation of free needle campaigns for heroin addicts. Designated driver programs reduce the potential harm of alcohol abuse without eliminating the harmful behavior. However, when the issue is smoking, these same forces have espoused a radical “quit or die” approach. They seem unable to tolerate the thought of a safe — or even safer — cigarette. Their reaction to the widespread adoption of electronic smoking products has been to support onerous regulations, and in Canada’s case — an outright ban.
AAPHP (American Association of Public Health Physicians) favors a permissive approach to E-cigarettes because the possibility exists to save the lives of four million of
the eight million current adult American smokers who will otherwise die of a tobacco-related illness over the next twenty years.” 28
Champix is dangerous
Meanwhile Health Canada continues to advocate the use of Pfizer’s controversial Champix (Chantix in the U.S.) medication as an effective tool to quit smoking. In British Columbia, the medication is provided free of charge to tobacco users as part of their smoking cessation efforts. Champix continues to receive Health Canada’s blessing despite the fact that the drug has been linked to at least 24 Canadian suicides and hundreds of cases of serious side effects including aggression, depression and suicidal thoughts with many resulting in hospitalization or disability. Further adding to the controversy, Health Canada has admitted that Champix side effects remain under-reported, while refusing to release the results of its own Champix studies. One can only wonder what could have been for the hundreds of Champix-linked suicides reported worldwide, had the smokers been prescribed e-cigarettes instead of what is clearly a dangerous yet legal smoking cessation treatment.29, 30, 31, 32
Some electronic smoking advocates have adopted a cynical view of the reasoning behind Canada’s e-cigarette ban. They theorize that it is in the government’s best interest to maintain the status quo, as heavily taxed tobacco products have become a lucrative source of state revenue.
Statistics from the Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada indicate that between 2006 and 2011 tobacco tax revenues surpassed $30 billion.33 It is difficult to imagine that any government would be willing to lose such a cash cow without a fight.
Prohibition regulations have been directly linked to powerful tobacco lobby groups which regard e-cigarettes as a threat to the tobacco industry’s survival. These lobby groups have funded dubious studies to portray e-cigarettes as harmful.
According to media reports, Big Tobacco lobbied not only to have e-cigs banned, but to get major online retailers like Amazon.com and eBay to stop selling them. Lobbyists for the NRT (Nicotine Replacement Therapies) 34 industry and anti-smoking groups have worked hard to ban e-cigs at the state level, and a number of states have introduced legislation to do just that.” 35
Undoubtedly the unhealthy marriage between Health Canada, big pharma and big tobacco has eroded the government’s credibility and rendered it incapable of making unbiased decisions concerning electronic cigarettes. Nevertheless, with continued vigilance through petitions,36 calls for judicious regulations, and insistence upon quality standards that ensure the safety of consumers; it is the belief of eCigs HQ that the ban will eventually be lifted. But how many Canadians will die of tobacco-related diseases before Health Canada comes to its senses?
…if everyone switched to e-cigarettes it could potentially save millions of lives, but regulation would certainly be useful at this time…” 37
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2. John Stossel. The FDA Kills Smokers (Reason.com, 11/17/2011).
3. Daniel J. DeNoon. E-Cigarettes Under Fire (WebMD.com, 4/13/2009).
4. Health Canada. Health Canada Advises Canadians Not to Use Electronic Cigarettes (HC-SC.GC.ca, 3/27/2009).
5. Health Canada. Notice – To All Persons Interested in Importing, Advertising or Selling Electronic Smoking Products in Canada (HC-SC.GC.ca, 3/27/2009).
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9. Michael B. Siegel, MD, MPH, Kerry L. Tanwar, BA and Kathleen S. Wood, MPH. “Electronic Cigarettes As a Smoking-Cessation Tool,” American Journal of Preventive Medicine (AJPMOnline.org, April 2011).
10. Carl V. Phillips and Paul L. Bergen. Tobacco Harm Reduction 2010: a yearbook of recent research and analysis (TobaccoHarmReduction.org, 2010).
11. B.J. Westenberger, Deputy Director, CDER/OPS/OTR, Division of Pharmaceutical Analysis. Evaluation of e-cigarettes (FDA.gov, 5/4/2009).
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16. John Tierney. “A Tool to Quit Smoking Has Some Unlikely Critics” The New York Times (NYTimes.com, 11/7/2011).
17. World Health Organization. Marketers of electronic cigarettes should halt unproved therapy claims (WHO.int, 9/18/2008).
18. Murray Laugesen, MBChB FNZCPHM, Health New Zealand Ltd. and Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco, Dublin Ruyan E-cigarette Bench-top tests (HealthNZ.co.nz, 4/3/2009).
19. Chris Bullen et al., The University of Auckland, Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences. Effect of an E-Cigarette on Cravings and Withdrawal, Acceptability and Nicotine Delivery: Randomised Cross-Over Trial (HealthNZ.co.nz, 4/9/2009).
20. Zachary Cahn and Michael Siegel. “Electronic cigarettes as a harm reduction strategy for tobacco control: A step forward or a repeat of past mistakes?” Journal of Public Health Policy (Palgrave-Journals.com, 12/10/2010).
21. Dr Konstantinos Farsalinos, Onassis Cardiac Surgery Center, Greece, and European Society of Cardiology. Electronic cigarettes do not damage the heart (ESCardio.org, 8/25/2012).
22. McCauley TR et al, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health. Comparison of the effects of e-cigarette vapor and cigarette smoke on indoor air quality (NCBI.NLM.NIH.gov, 10/24/2012).
23. Brad Rodu, Harm Reduction Journal. The scientific foundation for tobacco harm reduction, 2006-2011 (HarmReductionJournal.com, 8/19/2011).
24. Jesse Kline. “E-smoke ‘em if you got ‘em,” National Post (NationalPost.com, 1/2/2012).
25. Michael B. Siegel, MD, MPH, Kerry L. Tanwar, BA and Kathleen S. Wood, MPH. “Electronic Cigarettes As a Smoking-Cessation Tool,” American Journal of Preventive Medicine (AJPMOnline.org, April 2011).
26. British Columbia Tobacco Control Program. E-Cigarette Fact Sheet (Health.Gov.BC.ca, October 2011).
27. Jess Alderman, Katherine M Dollar and Lynn T Kozlowski. “Commentary: Understanding the origins of anger, contempt, and disgust in public health policy disputes: Applying moral psychology to harm reduction debates,” Journal of Public Health Policy (Palgrave-Journals.com, April 2010).
28. Joel L. Nitzkin, MD, MPH, Chair, Tobacco Control Task Force, American Association of Public Health Physicians. AAPHP Statement re State Regulation of E-cigarettes (AAPHP.org, 4/2/2010).
29. The Pharma Letter. Teva and Pfizer settle over Neurontin; France drops Champix; Actavis’ Aricept generic cleared (thePharmaLetter.com, 6/1/2011).
30. Jesse McLean and Andrew Bailey. “Health Canada tight-lipped on Champix suicides,” The Star (TheStar.com, 10/4/2012).
31. Gordon Gibb, Lawyers and Settlements. Chantix Suicide Measured in Lives Lost (LawyersAndSettlements.com, 8/10/2012).
32. Fierce Pharma. FDA gets 5,000 Chantix complaints (FiercePharma.com, 11/29/2007).
33. Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada. Tax Revenues from Tobacco Sales (Smoke-Free.ca, November 2011).
34. Med Line Plus, US National Library of Medicine. Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NLM.NIH.gov, 2/21/2011).
35. Joshua Holland. “E-cigarettes: Holy Grail for Addicted Smokers?,” The State Journal, Frankfort, Kentucky (State-Journal.com, 1/7/2011).
36. Andrew Goldenberg. Health Canada: Reverse the Decision Banning the Sale of Electronic Cigarettes and Liquids (Change.org, March 2012).
37. Daily Mail Reporter. “Safety fears over electronic cigarettes because they are ‘unclean’ and unregulated,” Mail Online (DailyMail.co.uk, 4/13/2012).
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