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Friday, 15 May 2009

E-CIGARETTES - LETTER TO HEALTH CANADA

July 28/09 - You will find follow-up to this letter at: CORRESPONDENCE WITH HEALTH CANADA ON THE E-CIGARETTE BAN


May 12, 2009

Health Products and Food Branch Inspectorate
Health Canada
Address Locator: 2003C
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0K9

Sir/Madam,

It is beyond comprehension to see that Health Canada is calling for a ban on the sale and distribution of electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) in this country.

In our opinion, this decision is totally counterproductive to the efforts of Health Canada, who have long been in the vanguard internationally in the reduction of tobacco consumption. While the results of Canada’s sustained efforts through educational campaigns have generally been positive in reducing smoking prevalence right up to and including the year 2004, the decreasing trend has halted and smoking rates in Canada have remained the same ever since draconian smoking bans were instituted in many provinces (1). As history has taught us, coercive methods have never yielded positive results.


Apart from the public reacting negatively to coercion, another likely reason why the remaining citizens who smoke may be reluctant to quit their habit is the lack of realistic alternatives to the act of smoking itself. Public health authorities tend to see smoking as a function of addiction to nicotine, and pharmaceutical companies have cashed in on that perception by marketing various nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) devices. These products, in the form of variously flavored chewing gum in colorful packaging, or lozenges, patches, or even inhalers, are advertised extensively in all media. No doubt NRT sales are high and profitable, but the long term success rate of quitting smoking by use of NRT products as they are marketed now is a dismal 1.6% (2 & 3).

Electronic cigarettes are seen by many as a more attractive alternative to the NRT products available from the pharmaceutical industry and a viable alternative to those who wish to continue profiting from the benefits of nicotine. The use of the e-cigarette simulates the physical acts and sensations characteristic of smoking, including holding a cigarette-shaped device, inhaling nicotine vapor from it, and exhaling propylene glycol vapor. This vapor is a relatively inert gas which is odorless and does not linger in the air around the e-smoker. There is no environmental smoke produced by e-cigarettes therefore there is no annoyance to by-standers.

The popularity of the e-cigarette has spread virally through means such as word of mouth and internet forums. Large numbers of people around the world claim that use of e-cigarettes has helped them quit or cut down on their smoking and that it provides a degree of comfort, satisfaction, and convenience to those who do not wish to give up nicotine intake for various reasons.


In light of all of this, it is beyond disappointing to see that Health Canada is calling for a ban on the sale and distribution of electronic cigarettes in this country. We as a group representing smokers find it absurd that Health Canada would keep it legal to smoke tobacco and ban the marketing of e-cigarettes, which offer an effective alternative and we are not alone to feel this way (4).

Contrary to conventional cigarettes emissions, E-cigarette vapor only contains two chemicals: nicotine and glycol propylene. Nicotine is generally accepted as relatively harmless by authorities, and is an approved legal substance. After all, NRT products, some of which are inhaled nicotine, are allowed to be freely marketed over the counter with no legal age for purchase and Health Canada has either authorized or is in the process of authorizing clinical trials of such nicotine products on pregnant women (5). Propylene glycol is approved as an additive for various foods, is used as a preservative substance to maintain moisture in products, and has been animal tested (including on simians, not just laboratory rats) as relatively harmless when inhaled. (6 & 7)


The electronic cigarette is in essence a nicotine delivery device in the same mould as pharmaceutical NRT products. What is it in the combination of nicotine and propylene glycol that has Health Canada thinking that e-cigarettes are more hazardous than tobacco and NRT products such as inhalers? Surely e-cigarettes, which are neither tobacco products nor pharmaceutical products, should be permitted to be marketed and distributed freely providing they are not advertized as therapeutic devices.

Unable to comprehend what motivated Health Canada to ban e-cigarettes while keeping tobacco and pharmaceutical nicotine replacement therapy as well as the dangerous drug Chantix legal, we are forced to conclude that the only parties worthy of protection from Health Canada are the pharmaceutical and tobacco industries whose profits are threatened with the advent of this smart invention that had the potential of reestablishing harmony between smoking and non-smoking citizens and bringing much needed business back in our hospitality sector.

We strongly urge Health Canada to rethink their e-cigarette policy immediately, in the interest of the people they represent as opposed to the financial interests of powerful corporate lobbies.

Sincerely,


Iro Cyr
for:
C.A.G.E., Citizens for Civil Liberties and mychoice.ca

Disclaimer: C.A.G.E, Citizens for Civil Liberties and mychoice.ca* are grassroots non-profit organizations with no financial ties to the Tobacco, Pharmaceutical or e-cigarette industries.

References:

1) Canadian Tobacco Use Monitoring Survey - The Daily Monday, August 25, 2008 http://www.statcan.gc.ca/daily-quotidien/080825/dq080825b-eng.htm

2) Effectiveness and safety of nicotine replacement therapy assisted reduction to stop smoking: systematic review and meta-analysis - BMJ 2009;338:b1024 Published 2 April 2009, doi:10.1136/bmj.b1024 http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/abstract/338/apr02_3/b1024

3) New Study Demonstrates How Conflicts of Interest with Big Pharma Influence Reporting of the Effectiveness of Smoking Cessation Drug Treatment - Tobacco Analysis blog by Dr. Michael Siegel, professor Social and Behavioral Sciences, Boston University School of Public Health.http://tobaccoanalysis.blogspot.com/search?q=Conflicts+of+Interest+with+Big+Pharma+Influence+Reporting

4) Absurdity Gone Wild: Health Canada Asks Smokers Not to Use E-Cigarettes Because of Safety Concerns, But Not to Refrain from the Known Toxic Ones - Tobacco Analysis blog by Dr. Michael Siegel, professor Social and Behavioral Sciences, Boston University School of Public Health. http://tobaccoanalysis.blogspot.com/search?q=Absurdity+Gone+Wild

5) Correspondence between C.A.G.E. and Mr. Yadvinder Bhuller, Manager - Clinical Group II , Office of Clinical Trials and Mr. William King, Chief of Staff, Ministry of Health. http://www.cagecanada.ca/index.php?pr=Nicotine_Replacement


6) Safety Report on the Ruyan® e-cigarette Cartridge and Inhaled Aerosol - Murray Laugesen Health New Zealand Ltd Christchurch, New Zealand. - 30 October 2008 http://healthnz.co.nz/RuyanCartridgeReport30-Oct-08.pdf

7) Preclinical safety evaluation of inhaled cyclosporine in propylene glycol. - PMID: 18158714 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18158714?ordinalpos=1&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum

*Please note that as of January 1, 2009, mychoice.ca no longer receives any funding from the tobacco industry.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Health Canada like the FDA has no moral grounds for banning what is probebly the best invention of the century. The problem they have is that we did not invent it ourselves. More and more our government is getting unattached to the general public. Somebody who has no clue of what is going is sitting behind a desk making these rules, all to make sure they do not lese their jobs.

Anonymous said...

I have been using my e-smoke for months and I feel so much better. I think Health Canada is crazy for banning these in Canada while allowing real cigs to still be sold. I went from 4000 chemicals per puff to 20. How can e-cigs be anything but good when compared to a regular cig. Burn in Hell Health Canada for preventing "Harm reduction", you cruel bastards.

yuri said...

My wife had been smoking since she was 19. Now she is 49. Last year she switched to e-cig. Morning cough disappeared right away.
We have to fight for our choice. Government and big business players take our freedom step by step. People are brainwashed and do not see that 'safe' and 'protective' lifestyle brings us to total government control over our lives.

Anonymous said...

Government as not and will never do anything for the people health as there is no money to make from healthy people period. Think of all the money they drain from these fake taxes they create on these product; it is monumental so they can grease themselves big time. If they really wanted to do something they would have outlawed smoking and pursue smoker like drug addicts. Same thing for gas. Its not the money we lacking or resources its the people in charge wasting them all around for their own benefits that make us believe otherwise.

Anonymous said...

I agree as a smoker and someone who is only 29 and already is dieing from chronic bronchitis,the last few days I have been searching for nicotine alternatives and came across the e-cig idea. this would be perfect to still smoke and enjoy a habit without the harmful effects. I am from winnipeg manitoba and I found out they are banned in canada, they need to ban the harmful analong cigs with 4000 chemicals and let this green smoke be used. lung problems would decrease and from every site I've read and video watched on youtube ,these are clearly the best alternative. If there is anywhere to sign a petition and make for legalization of these e-cigs in canada i'd be glad to sign it and bring these pharmacutical companies down. nocorette offers no vapor like a normal cig. the government needs to look at the long term benefits of these e-cigs. it is as one said in their comment. the bes tinvention of the century and i'd like to try it and live longer.

Anonymous said...

If you are Canadian and reading like this like the rest of us have. I urge you speak out and stand up against this atrocity. The only res ion they are legal because Canada is in bed with the pharmaceutical company and some one will lose money. In the end we all know this is going save lives and help cut down on health care costs.

the 2009 Ban on ecigs is a travesty that never should have been.

All studys have shown this a safe clean and efficient alternative.

If canadian people where told about this with out the goverment acting on its own. Witch alone is a criminal act!
Then we would most likely have this sold every where in Canada by now.

Anonymous said...

http://tobaccoharmreduction.org/

this site is worth looking at too.

Anonymous said...

If I come up with a product that is definetly going to kill alot of people .....could I apply to health canada to get that product approved . Wake up government and ban tobacco products now ! and welcome e-cigarettes into the new world . this is the revolution and future of smoking . Take products that kill off the shelves .

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jowdjbrown said...

As history has taught us, coercive methods have never yielded positive results. more

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