New approach suggested

    Imperial Tobacco Canada has said it believes that Health Canada can achieve the goal of reducing Canada’s smoking rate to less than five percent ahead of the target date of 2035.
    It could do this, it added, by embracing the principles of harm reduction: by allowing smokers to choose alternatives to cigarettes, such as vaping and tobacco-heating products.
    Imperial yesterday issued a statement to mark National Non-Smoking Week.
    ‘Tobacco Heating Products (THPs) and vaping products are battery-powered devices that do not use combustion to deliver nicotine, with the consumer instead inhaling vapor, not smoke,’ the statement said. ‘The vast majority of toxicants in cigarette emissions are the product of combustion, and with no combustion, the result is far fewer toxicants.
    ‘A report by the UK Royal College of Physicians states that because “most of the harm caused by smoking arises not from nicotine but from other components of tobacco smoke, the health and life expectancy of today’s smokers could be radically improved by encouraging as many as possible to switch to a smoke-free source of nicotine”.’
    “In order to provide smokers with options between cigarettes and other alternatives – with no combustion and therefore potentially less risk – it is essential that Canada introduces regulations that can communicate their harm reduction potential,” Eric Gagnon, head of corporate and regulatory affairs, was quoted as saying. “With a reasonable and sustainable regulatory framework that supports harm reduction and next generation products, the federal government can reduce the public health impact of tobacco.”
    Imperial said that the sale of nicotine-containing vaping products was currently illegal in Canada unless they had been approved by Health Canada. And since none of the products currently on the Canadian market had been approved, they were all illicit.
    ‘Bill S-5, which is currently before the House of Commons, seeks to legalize and introduce a regulatory framework for vaping products,’ Imperial said in its statement. ‘The Bill’s resulting regulations will have a significant impact on smokers who may choose to migrate from traditional cigarettes to smoke-free products.
    ‘Some governments, including that of the UK, have already taken a pragmatic approach to some of these new products and are actively providing smokers with proper information.’
    “As part of the world’s largest and most international tobacco and nicotine company, we understand the complex needs of smokers, and this is why our company has invested more than US$2.5 billion since 2012 to develop a range of next generation products (NGPs) such as vapor and tobacco heating products,” said Gagnon. “It is crucial that the federal government changes its current approach toward NGPs to allow adult smokers to choose potentially less harmful products if they wish.”
    Imperial said that the expiry of the Federal Tobacco Control Strategy in March 2018 would present an additional opportunity for the federal government to recognize how embracing harm-reduction principles could achieve its five percent goal, rather than adding more radical and ineffective control measures on tobacco products that only served to fuel the further growth of illicit tobacco.
    “To lower the smoking rate, Canada should focus its efforts on building consumer awareness of less-risky alternatives to smoking, and crack down on the illegal tobacco industry that continues to grow and supplies more than 20 percent of the market with unregulated and untaxed cigarettes,” said Gagnon.