Tag Archives: health canada

Canadian Lung Association: Are You Kidding Me?

In a press release put out by the Canadian Lung Association named “Don’t Be Fooled By E-Cigarettes!”, they make arguments against smokers in Canada trying electronic cigarettes.  Here is a look at what claims they make:

1. “People who use e-cigarettes inhale unknown, unregulated and potentially harmful substances into their lungs,”

First, let’s point out that tobacco smokers inhale known cancer causing agents.  It can be argued that since tobacco cigarettes can legally be sold in Canada that they are regulated.  Does that make them any safer?  But the biggest issue I have with this statement is that we do know what is in e-cigarettes.  There have been multiple studies done on the contents of e-cigs.  The ingredients in the e-cigarette vapor include propylene glycol, glycerin, water, and flavoring.  Some also come with nicotine in them.

2. “E-cigarettes may contain ingredients that are known to be toxic to humans including carcinogens and diethylene glycol, a toxic chemical used in antifreeze.”

This is a reference to a FDA test done in 2009.  This report was put out by the FDA in response to them being sued at the time by nJoy who claimed the FDA was unjustly seizing their stock.  nJoy was victorious in this battle.  Here is a thorough rebuttal of the FDA report.  Also, in Canada e-cigarettes do not contain nicotine so they do not have the TSNAs present as those with nicotine may.  As a side note, at the time the FDA knew so little about e-cigarettes that this was the picture they used when they released their “findings”:

fda e-cigarette testing

For those what don’t vape, here is the issue:  For the model of e-cigarette they show, you must take off the mouthpiece / cartridge before you plug it into the charger.  They way they show it, the e-cigarette would not ever charge.

3. E-cigarettes have candy-like flavours that appeal to kids

Kids and adults alike enjoy flavors.  As an example, vodka can be purchase with many, many flavors.  Should be ban it?

4. There are many proven ways to quit smoking

That statement is true provided you buy into Health Canada’s definition of “proven”.    Their list of ways to quit smoking includes Nicotine Replacement Therapies and prescription drugs.  Find out just how successful smokers are in quitting smoking using these methods.  They also fail to mention that NRTs do contain cancer cause substances known as TSNAs.

 

We only ask that smokers think for themselves, dig a little deeper into what they read, and make their own decisions about what is best for their health.

Will The FDA Rules For E-Cigarette Effect Canada?

If you follow the new in the electronic cigarette world, you know that the FDA has been hesitant, to put it nicely, about the e-cigarette. They have attempted to block it’s market categorization of a tobacco product, unsuccessfully.  They have attempted to deter smokers from using it using their own brand of science….with partial success.  But with the court cases over and their mandate handed down from Congress, they will soon be enacting rules and regulations regarding the use and sale of electronic cigarettes.  The specifics of these rules are not yet clear including the means by which they are available for sale, whether the regulations will encompass all parts of the e-cigarette (batteries, atomizers, cartomizers, e-liquid, bottles of e-liquid, etc), or even if they will be taxed similar to other tobacco products.  Some industry experts are skeptical about how the FDA will proceed.  As Bill Godshall of SmokeFree Pennsylvania states:

FDA issues notice of intent to propose “deeming” regulation by April of 2013 (to apply Chapter IX of FSPTCA to e-cigarettes, cigars, pipe tobacco, shisha/hookah and other tobacco products not currently subject to Chapter IX regulations) “and to specifiy additional restrictions.”
The question for Canadian vapers and current smokers looking for a change should be, “will this change the current situation  and stance of Health Canada regarding e-cigarettes in Canada?”  If history is a factor, then yes, it will.  US law often affects Canadian laws.  Our border is long and trade is free.  This creates a situation where adopting US laws is often easier and cheaper than creating our own from scratch.  Another factor are the companies involved is such products.  Since the e-cigarette will be officially a tobacco product in the US, US tobacco companies will be taking advantage of the situation (Lorillard and Reynolds already are).  These companies may push for entry into the Canadian market under the same regulations they operate under south of the border.
And our thoughts?  It is likely in the future Canada will classify and allow e-cigarettes with nicotine as a tobacco product.  We do hope they consider the science behind different tobacco products to allow the greatest possible exposure of electronic cigarettes to current smokers in Canada.  And remember, we’re all in this together. (Red Green)

Reasons Why Health Canada Doesn’t Like E-Cigarettes

Here are our top reasons why we believe Health Canada has banned electronic cigarettes with nicotine and won’t let any companies claim e-cigarettes help smokers quit smoking.  Please note these are made up and suppose to be funny.  In no way has Health Canada indicated that any of the below reasons are factual…..although that doesn’t mean they are not 😉

1. If everyone in Canada was healthy, there would be no need for Health Canada.

2. First e-cigarettes, then e-joints.

3. Smokers pay taxes, taxes pay salaries.

4. There are not enough smokers working for Health Canada

5. They don’t believe vaping is as cool as smoking

 

Nonetheless, if you smoke and live in Canada, you can get e-cigarettes without nicotine and they work just fine!

Former Smoker Wants End To E-Cigarette Ban In Canada

no vapingRussell Daikens is not alone.  He wants Health Canada to end it’s ban on electronic cigarettes that contain nicotine.  He smoked for 50 years at two packs per day.  Quick math tells us he smoked about 730,000 tobacco cigarettes over this period….and that is at 20 cigarettes per pack, while many come in 25.  But in January he found the e-cig and never turned back.  The story appear in this news article on metronews.ca.

It’s not hard to see why Russell is an advocate for the new vaping technology.  He is a retired sailor who’s health was obviously adversely effected by smoking.  But now, Russell says “I’m done hacking and coughing, and haven’t touched a cigarette since.”  But he, like other former smokers, is concerned about the supply of nicotine e-liquid for their e-cigarettes.  Although none nicotine liquid and the vaping units themselves can be found online at such retailers as www.smokeinstead.ca, the nicotine refill liquid is banned.  And those attempting to import across the Canadian border risk having Canadian Customs seize their shipment.  Hardly seems far to those who gave up smoking.  Russell speculates why Health Canada is against the new “smoking” product, “You’re up against Big Tobacco, and you’re up against the government, too, because they want their revenue.”  The real reason may never be known, but let’s look at their current reasoning:

Although these electronic smoking products may be marketed as a safer alternative to conventional tobacco products and, in some cases, as an aid to quitting smoking, electronic smoking products may pose risks such as nicotine poisoning and addiction,” Health Canada said, in a statement.

Funny that Health Canada is worried about nicotine addiction when they authorize the sale of tobacco cigarettes, which have nicotine.  They also approved many other products with nicotine in them such as nicotine gum and patches.  And the concern over nicotine poisoning is unlikely.  In fact it has never happened.  E-Cigarettes have been used in North America for over 5 years without one case of nicotine poisoning.  This is not to say it is a none issue.  If a user where to drink a bottle of e-liquid with nicotine, it would be very, very dangerous.  But banning (rather than regulating) e-cigarettes because of potential consumer misuse is analogous to banning mouthwash because of the off chance someone would drink it in quantities that would harm them.  Reasonable regulation and labeling would seem to be a more logical course of action.

So will Health Canada re-consider it’s ban on electronic cigarettes with nicotine?  It seems unlikely until someone ponies up the money to make it a pharmaceutical product.  And even then, sales would likely be limited to pharmacies.  For Russell’s sake, and  for the sake of every other smoker in Canada, we hope Health Canada looks at the e-cigarette as a blessing, not a danger.

Is Health Canada Contradicting Itself?

Health CanadaSince 2009 Health Canada has placed a ban on marketing or selling e-cigarettes with nicotine.  Their stance is they need market authorization in the same way a nicotine patch or gum needs authorization within Canada.  As we mentioned in the past, non-nicotine electronic cigarettes are fine, since they do not contain any substances that warrant involvement with Health Canada.

What is curious is that it appears Health Canada does know the benefits of vaporization over combustion, as they state on their website with regards to vaporizing marijuana:

The advantages of vaporization apparently include the formation of a smaller quantity of toxic by-products such as carbon monoxide, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and tar, as well as a more efficient extraction of THC from the cannabis material (47,48,49,43,50). The subjective effects and plasma concentrations of THC are comparable to those of smoked cannabis with absorption being somewhat faster with the vaporizer (43). The vaporizer is well-tolerated, with no reported adverse effects, and is generally preferred over smoking by most subjects (43)

And as Brad Rodu (Professor of Medicine at the University of Louisville) points out in his recent blog post:

Among the comment’s scientific references, the most frequently cited is a study of vaporized marijuana published in 2007 by scientists at the University of California at San Francisco (abstract here).  It concluded:
“Whereas smoking marijuana increased [carbon monoxide, CO] levels as expected for inhalation of a combustion product, there was little if any increase in CO after inhalation of THC from the vaporizer. This indicates little or no exposure to gaseous combustion toxins. Combustion products are harmful to health and reflect a major concern about the use of marijuana cigarettes for medical therapy as expressed by the Institute of Medicine… Vaporization of marijuana does not result in exposure to combustion gases, and therefore is expected to be much safer than smoking marijuana cigarettes. The vaporizer was well tolerated and preferred by most subjects compared to marijuana cigarettes.”
From this, let’s make a leap:  Health Canada would recommend, if you were intent on smoking marijuana, that you vaporize it because it is better for you.  However, they would NOT recommend, if you were intent on smoking cigarettes, that you use an e-cigarette.
Yes, there are other nicotine replacement “therapies” such as the patch or gum, but these are to quit smoking.  What if a smoker wanted to keep smoking and getting nicotine, but wanted a safer method?  Is Health Canada going against it’s stated mission of “helping Canadians maintain and improve their health, while respecting individual choices and circumstance”.  If they know vaporization is safer than combustion and they want to respect individual choices, they why would they deny Canadians the option of an electronic cigarette?
We encourage you to write Health Canada and your Member of Parliament and ask them.

 

Can Electronic Cigarettes Save All Canadians Money?

The debate over tobacco use, tobacco taxation, and the health care costs associated with tobacco use in Canada has always been heated.  Smokers generally take the position that it is a private activity and they should have the freedom to partake.  They also argue that the money they spend on cigarettes, which about 63% to 80% is taxes, pays to offset the costs of future health care for smokers.  Non-smokers are generally adamant that the revenue from tobacco sales is a far cry from covering all the associated health costs.

So lets look at the numbers.  This is from a CBC article last updated in 2007 using statistics from 1993.  Although these numbers have changed over time, this will give us a relative comparison between tobacco tax revenue and associated health care cost:

They estimate that, in Canada, the societal costs attributable to smoking for 1993 were approximately $11 billion, of which $3 billion was spent on direct health care costs such as hospitalization and physician time. The remaining $8 billion was due to lost productivity. In comparison, it is estimated that in 1993/94, revenue from taxes on cigarettes totalled $2.6 billion. – from The Cost of Smoking on CBC.

As you can see, it is fairly straight forward.  The tobacco tax revenue generated was approximately $400,000,000 less than the money spent directly on health care costs.  This doesn’t include the additional $8 billion estimated on lost productivity due to smoking.  So how can electronic cigarettes help?

Let’s just say that every smoker switches to e-cigarettes.  Let’s say, hypothetically that e-cigarettes, like other smokeless tobacco, carry a harm rate of 5% of tobacco smoking, as estimated by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. That equates to a cost of %5 of $3 billion or $150 million.  There is no lost productivity for smoke breaks with e-cigarettes (provided Canada doesn’t get pseudo-scientific and ban indoor use) and only 5% of the lost productivity due to hospital stays.  So on the high end it would be 5% of the lost productivity associated with smoking, or $400 million.

With no extra taxation on electronic cigarettes, the total monetary loss is at $550 million.

The net monetary cost of tobacco cigarettes is around $8.4 billion.  This does not take into consideration the cost of human suffering and death associated with smoking cigarettes.

Based on these rough numbers, electronic cigarette use has the potential to save the Canadian government $7.85 BILLION.  No matter how you do the numbers, e-cigarettes will cost the Canadian government, and hense the people, less money than smoking.

If you just argued that all smokers should just quit altogether, that has been tried and has failed.  Replacing tobacco smoking with vaping is a reasonable and achievable goal with the help of regulatory agencies and public health advocates.

 

Agree, End The Ban On Nicotine E-Cigarettes In Canada

In a comment article printed in the National Post at the end of last year, Jesse Kline makes the argument for ending the ban in Canada on electronic cigarettes that contain nicotine.  While I fully agree the ban is not in the best interest of the health of Canadians, there are a few issues with some of the facts and speculation made in the article.  I thought it important to set the record straight.

First, some praise.  It was good to see that people are realizing the ban on e-cigarettes in Canada is only for those products that contain nicotine.  For some time many thought it was a general ban, but without nicotine or health claims Health Canada has little say over a product made up of electronics and containing no drugs.  Jesse did fail to mention that health claims such as “quit smoking” or “healthy alternative” do bring Health Canada into the picture, but all-in-all he had it right.

Where he failed to do some research was the sentence: “The devices contain a heating element that turns a liquid made of propylene glycol, vegetable glycerine (two common food additives) and nicotine into a water vapour,”  In truth, the liquid or e-liquid as it is often called, is made up of propylene glycol, glycerin, water, flavorings, and potentially nicotine.  But the big issue I have is “water vapour”.  This is a common misconception.  The vapour from an e-cigarette has been shown to contain the same ingredients as the liquid, although not in the exact same percentages, since the vaporization process does not effect each substance in the same way.  This can be shown with some testing of e-liquid.

Jesse also claims there are no carcinogens in e-cigarette vapor.  This is only partially true.  Without nicotine, yes, there are no carcinogens.  However with nicotine there are trace amounts.  This is not a big deal when you consider BBQ’d meat has trace amounts of carcinogens, but none-the-less it was not completely accurate.

The last and most serious falsity with the article is from this quote:

A number of studies have shown that the illusion of smoking created by the device helps to satisfy cravings, but without nicotine, it cannot help smokers get over the physiological dependence that is created by the drug.

True, studies have shown e-cigarettes help smokers, but I have always found it curious that experts and users alike believe that it is important to keep using nicotine to get over the addiction to nicotine.  Although in rare cases such as heroin addiction, other drugs are used to ween the addicted off the drug, it seems counter intuitive to keep using nicotine to get over an addiction to nicotine. What I would recommend to people is to quit smoking cold turkey and if they like, use and e-cigarette with no nicotine to get the action of smoking, if they still want it.

Overall we applaud Jesse Kline for speaking his mind and bringing more light to the issue of electronic cigarettes in Canada.

E-Cigarette Controversy

European Society of Cardiology: Electronic cigarettes do not damage the heart
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=poOP9skjaxM (5/17/12 interview/presentation by Dr. Konstantinos Farsalinos)
Hayden McRobbie presents on e-cigarettes at the 2012 UK National Smoking Cessation Conference
Gizmodo: The Best E-Cigarette
Brad Rodu: E-Cigarettes Awareness and Use
Mike Siegel: Electronic Cigarette Opponents Now Making Up, Not Just Lying About Evidence
University of Kentucky College of Nursing lies about e-cigarettes on website and signs posted at campus
Mike Siegel: Tobacco Free UK declares that electronic cigarettes cause cancer
Mike Siegel: Author of article attacking e-cigarettes appears to have failed to disclose significant financial conflict of interest
Health Canada’s actions against one E-Cigarette company.

Anti-Smoking Laws and Electronic Cigarettes

Some States within the US are currently creating and discussing laws regarding the use of electronic cigarettes in public places.  These usage bans on e-cigarettes are generally lumped in with bans on smoking tobacco cigarettes in workplaces, bars, and potentially any public places.  As of yet, Canada has not proposed any laws regarding the use of electronic cigarettes in public places.  This may be due to the fact that Health Canada has deemed any electronic cigarettes with nicotine banned based on no approval.  And as we discussed in our blog post, Are Electronic Cigarettes Illegal In Canada? since nicotine is a regulated substance, Health Canada is not budging on the issue until a licensed pharmaceutical company obtains the proper authorization. As for e-cigarettes with no nicotine, it is likely that Health Canada does not see it as a big enough issue to worry about their use in public places.

If you are unsure which side of the issue to fall on; vaping is ok in public or that it should be treated like smoking, remember these points:

  • Electronic cigarettes do not produce smoke.  The vapour they produce contains propylene glycol, glycerin, water, and flavoring.  These are all ingredients found in many foods and medicines.
  • Electronic cigarettes do not produce any vapour when they are not being inhaled upon, unlike cigarettes which obviously burn constantly once lit.
  • Banning the use of e-cigarette in public because they look like smoking is much the same as banning the use of a nasal inhalant medicine in public because it looks like the user is abusing illegal drugs.

It is our hope that any laws pertaining to electronic cigarettes are based on science and fact rather than fabrication and ignorance.  Before any activity is banned it is important to get the facts straight….for the good of personal freedoms and liberties.

 

Are Electronic Cigarettes Harmful?

Good question.  The answer is; there is nothing that is harm free.  Cars are not safe for instance, but they are safer with seat belts and air bags.  Eating fast food can be harmful if you eat it often enough, but it is better if you don’t “super size it”.  So the question of harm with electronic cigarettes comes down to degrees.  And it should not be compared to absolute safety, but rather in comparison to it’s counterpart; tobacco cigarettes.

Burning tobacco creates over 4000 chemicals which are then inhaled into the lungs.  Electronic cigarette vapour consists of propylene glycol, glycerin, water, and flavoring.  If you google propylene glycol you will see various opinions about it’s harmfulness, but the truth is that it is approved for use in food, cosmetics, and prescription and over the counter drugs.  It seems unlikely that Health Canada or the FDA would approve the chemicals found in tobacco smoke for use in food.  Can you imagine if carbon monoxide was approved for use in your toothpaste?

So when deciding what is best for you, do the research and make an informed decision.  And remember, smoking kills about half of it’s users prematurely.  Electronic cigarettes have not killed anyone to date.  This is not a claim to it’s safety or efficacy, but it is a fact.