The Vaping Industry Trade Association (VITA) acknowledges Health Canada’s call on manufacturers, importers and sellers of vaping products to review their marketing practices and promotions. While VITA shares Health Canada’s concerns about youth vaping and believes that industry must play a role in ensuring compliance, it urges the federal government to speed the introduction of relative risk health statements and provide industry with clear guidelines on how vape products can be discussed prior to imposing any further restrictions on communication.
Vaping products were legalized as consumer products in May 2018. Health Canada states that “vaping is less harmful than smoking” and “there are short-term general health improvements if you completely switch from smoking cigarettes to vaping products.” When the federal government legalized vaping products, it introduced regulations aimed to prevent youth from being attracted to the products, such as prohibiting lifestyle promotion, testimonials and the use of certain flavour descriptors.
Prior to today’s announcement, several provinces have pre-emptively introduced regulations that go even further in restricting communication and advertising of vaping products at point of sale in retail, gas and convenience stores. “While these regulatory restrictions may be well intended, they have unintended consequences for Canada’s five million smokers. Without some form of product communication happening at the store level, smokers may not become aware of or accurately learn the harm reduction benefits of vaping products,” said Daniel David, CEO of the Vaping Industry Trade Association.
“This is especially problematic in provinces where the legislation equates vaping to smoking, prohibiting all forms of promotion. The result is that smokers are for the most part unaware of vaping as an alternative and, if they are, may not know that it is potentially less harmful” concluded David.
What’s more concerning is that the legislation at both a provincial and federal level is interpreted differently by inspectors and there is simply just too much room for subjectivity. Until the time at which there is greater clarity on compliance, VITA urges the government to refrain from publishing results online, including the names of businesses that were found to be non-compliant at the time of inspection.
VITA is encouraged by Health Canada’s advance notice to consult with industry and will work closely with our members to address their call to action. However, it must be noted that there remains a need to communicate about the less harmful effects of vaping, relative to smoking, and that there is a great deal of subjectivity in the application of existing restrictions on communication and marketing freedoms. “Governments have a fundamental duty to strike the right balance – keep vaping products out of the hands of minors, but equally building awareness of vaping amongst smokers.”
For more information on VITA’s positions, please visit the website.
Daniel David, President & CEO
Vaping Industry Trade Association (VITA)
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