Last Monday, at a press conference, ahead of the first House of Commons committee hearings on Bill S-5, representatives from the Quebec Coalition for Tobacco Control and Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada said that the bill in question is on the “wrong track”.
“We can not give our support as a public health organization to advertising on mainstream media on TV for nicotine-containing products that are not recognized as cessation devices as yet,” said spokesperson for the Quebec Coalition for Tobacco Control, Flory Doucas.
The groups said they are concerned that if the bill passes, the vaping industry will bombard the media with adverts, and that this could lead to non-smokers taking up vaping. “There’s too much risk of danger if there is advertising everywhere directed everywhere at everybody. We’re going to end up with more smokers, not fewer smokers.” said Neil Collishaw, Research Director of Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada.
Research dispelling the groups’ stance
A recent study found that if e-cigarette adverts in the US had to be banned, the current cigarette quitting rate would drop by 3%.
However, a recent study published on NBER, found that on the contrary, if e-cigarette adverts in the US had to be banned, the current cigarette quitting rate would drop by 3%. The researchers surveyed 25,000 individuals between 2013 and 2015, and the data collected indicated that a ban on TV e-cig adverts would result in about 105,000 fewer quitters
Additionally, a survey from the UK, where the products are advertised as smoking cessation devices, has not only found that the majority of vapers tend to be ex-smokers, but also that vaping itself is on the decline. A study from Penn State College of Medicine, supports the above findings as it indicated that vapers are less dependent on their electronic devices, than smokers are on regular cigarettes.
Smokers need to be informed about the relative safety of e-cigs
Renowned anti-smoking expert and adjunct professor with the Centre for Health Law, Policy and Ethics at the University of Ottawa, David Sweanor pointed out that the Canadian anti-tobacco groups opposing Bill S-5 have got it all wrong. “The vast majority of smokers are horribly misinformed about relative risk,” he said. “You don’t deal with that by trying to restrict their access to information.”
In the meantime, many would argue that the bill in question is relatively sensible. While it effectively legalizes vaping products, it bans advertising that makes the products appealing to adolescents and allows adverts only in publications that are “addressed and sent to an adult who is identified by name” and in places “where young persons are not permitted by law.”