Last week, two Canadian anti-tobacco groups said they will not support the Liberal government’s Bill S-5, unless it is amended to put the same restrictions on e-cigarette advertising, as imposed on other tobacco products.

Bill S-5 already 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.”

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.

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.”

However, Health Minister Petitpas Taylor said that she’s in favour on reforming the bill so to impose more stringent advertising regulations. “I share some of the concerns expressed by the Quebec Coalition for Tobacco Control and others,” she said. “We do not allow the lifestyle promotion for tobacco products… and we do not allow it for cannabis products.”

Recent study shows the negative aspect of restricting e-cig adverts

On the other hand, 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.”

“The vast majority of smokers are horribly misinformed about relative risk. You don’t deal with that by trying to restrict their access to information.”Professor David Sweanor, Adjunct Professor with the Centre for Health Law, Policy and Ethics, University of Ottawa

In the meantime a recent US study published on NBER, found that 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 seems to indicate that a ban on TV e-cig adverts would result in about 105,000 fewer quitters.

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