Here is Health Canada’s reply to our latest appeal to them to reconsider their stand on electronic cigarettes.
Health Products and Food Branch
Graham Spry Building, 3rd Floor
250 Lanark Avenue
Address Locator #2003C
July 11, 2011
Thank you for your correspondence dated April 30, 2011 and your request that Health Canada reconsiders its controversial stand on banning the import and marketing of electronic nicotine delivery devices commonly known as e-cigarettes. We apologize for the delay in our response.
The recent U.S. FDA announcement about its intent to regulate electronic cigarettes as tobacco products when not associated with therapeutic claims will not change the regulation of electronic cigarette products in Canada. Analysis of the US decision indicate that it is based on very different wording found in the United States Tobacco Act compared to the Canadian Tobacco Act.
Electronic cigarettes will continue to fall within the scope of the Food and Drugs Act because they deliver nicotine, a drug, to a consumer. All other nicotine containing products, other than naturally sourced nicotine in cigarettes, cigars, etc, have been assessed under the Food and Drug Regulations. Currently since all approved nicotine products are now non-prescription drugs they fall under the Natural Health Products Regulations. However, nicotine intended for an electronic cigarette is not exempted from prescription status. Accordingly, market authorization must be granted by Health Canada prior to the importation and sale of these products in Canada. In this regard, Health Canada’s approach is in line with the recommendations of the World Health Organisation.
It is quite clear that according to Health Canada the health of an individual is at the mercy of ‘’different wording’’ and ‘’different acts’’ and that all that matters is that a substance contained in a product occurs naturally as opposed to being extracted from the plant and added to a delivery device. Little does it matter to Health Canada that that is precisely the process the pharmaceutical industry uses to manufacture different nicotine delivery devices such as inhalers, patches, gums and lozenges and it matters even less to them that the tobacco industry has been (rightly or wrongly) under attack for years for free-basing nicotine to give it a more potent ‘’hit’’ and that there is nothing ‘’natural’’ about that process. Irrelevant to them that thousands if not millions of smokers throughout the world who wanted to quit have successfully managed to do so with a device that has so far not only proven to be many times more effective than pharmaceutical overpriced nicotine replacement therapy but that has also no documented case of harm since its approximately 7-year existence.
Dear fellow citizens, the next time your father, aunt, uncle, or grandmother complain that smoking conventional cigarettes worsens their emphysema symptoms yet they find it impossible to renew their supply of nicotine for their e-cigarette because Health Canada does not approve of harm reduction, please set them straight immediately and stress to them that ‘’emphysema’’ is now called COPD and that wording is of utmost importance when one wants to improve their health.