Warnings printed directly on cigarettes won’t make people butt out | Colby Cosh


Incentivizing the use of e-cigarettes would dramatically reduce smoking rates, but Health Canada is doing its utmost to make them less attractive to smokers

Great news! Health Canada has a fantastic new idea to reduce tobacco smoking! I know what you’re probably thinking: at last, the department has come to its senses.

Last year, while you might have imagined all Health Canada hands being applied to the COVID-19 tiller, the federal government imposed a low limit on the amount of nicotine permitted in the vaping devices, which have enabled many people to quit smoking. It also wrote rules that would outlaw vape flavours other than tobacco and menthol, although for the moment these are still part of a “forward regulatory plan” hanging over the heads of retailers. (Three provinces have already banned all vape flavours.

The effect of all this is — quite explicitly — to make vaping products a less attractive alternative to smoking, which is far more dangerous to health according to the department’s own assumptions. Those of us who are already addicted to cigarettes could only regard these measures as frank abandonment. The vape devices that are now legal are not in any way a serious substitute for habitual smoking; they’re designed to prevent nicotine addiction among underage users and to actively discourage uptake of vaping by making the experience less pleasant.

An approach grounded in harm-reduction philosophy would not only have made high-nicotine mango-flavoured vapes available to adults in the market, it would be shipping devices and liquid to the homes of smokers at a subsidized price. Instead, you might still be left sucking down a pack a day at an annual cost of $6,000 or $7,000.

Unfortunately, Health Canada’s latest brainstorm isn’t anything like this. Instead of acknowledging that its attitude toward addicts is “Hurry up and die broke,” the department is confessing the long-term failure of the graphic health warnings it added to cigarette packaging in the year 2000. Although the program had initial success, mostly measured by asking tobacco users if they had seen the warnings and gone “ewww,” its observed effects levelled off over time.

Read full article here.

Colby Cosh – National Post – 2022-06-14.

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