Less than two years ago, the federal government officially welcomed the vaping industry to Canada. The belief among policy-makers and public health experts was that e-cigarettes were safer than combustible cigarettes and would help smokers kick their habit. That’s not what happened.

This story is part of Vape Fail, a CBC News series examining some of the policy failures that led to the adoption of vaping as a smoking alternative and the resulting consequences.

Most Canadians don’t smoke.

Yet Canada has chosen to implement a nationwide smoking-cessation strategy to make nicotine vaping devices as accessible as possible.

It was an unusual public health decision for regulators to deliberately craft a law to encourage the sale of an addictive product.

The federal government’s goal was “to strike a balance between protecting youth from inducement to nicotine and tobacco use, while allowing adult smokers to legally access vaping products,” Health Minister Jane Philpott told a Senate committee on April 12, 2017, as the legislation was being debated before final approval.

The resulting law, which came into effect in May 2018, means vaping devices have fewer restrictions than tobacco and cannabis under Canada’s Tobacco and Vaping Products Act.

Unlike cannabis, vaping devices can be sold anywhere, and unlike tobacco, there are no warning signs on packages and the sale of fruit flavours is allowed.

Canada’s vaping approach was based on a hypothesis — that the minority of Canadians who still smoked might switch to vaping.

Federal health officials knew when they drafted the law that they did not have definitive evidence that e-cigarettes were effective at helping people quit smoking.

And today it’s becoming clear that the utopian post-tobacco vision is not materializing the way it was imagined.

“The majority of smokers do not switch,” said Dr. Charlotta Pisinger, a leading researcher on tobacco prevention at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark. “It was wishful thinking. The smokers didn’t do as we wanted them to do.”

Read full article here.

Kelly Crowe – CBC – December 2, 2019.

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  1. i would just like to say that both Canada and the usa have a very simple way to reduce the amount of younger people getting into vaping and its quite simple. as from what i see and read about all the time the biggest thing is the nicotine the governments and ruling bodies always bring up this problem. so would it not be easier to only sell 0mg nicotine liquids in shops and online then put an age restriction on the the nicotine shots or nicotine that can be bought and implement a very strict proof of age policy to buy nicotine cause as we all know vaping is 97% safer than smoking so take out the ease of buying the nicotine which in theory would make it even safer ? and yes i am a vaper of nearly 9 years now and have never felt better i know i wouldnt mind proving my age to buy nicotine for my liquids just my thoughts anyway we all know the governing bodies will always do as they please anyway

    • Hi Steve, it’s a good idea. It seems to be working in the UK pretty good. The issue is that it’s not a fix for the pod systems which are the problems with youth. So are you suggesting that to make your conecpt work that we’d have to ban pod systems too?


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