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Vaping: Don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater
December 5th 2019 | Revised December 6th 2019
Vaping: Don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater

Nicotine-based vaping, also called e-cigarettes, is the story of a good product that helps smokers quit, meets Black Market opportunists, meets typical teenage behaviour. 

To clarify, vaping is a technology: what you vape is what matters, and what has caused this supposed “vaping crisis” over the last 120 days; is Black Market illicit cannabis products. 

There is talk now of banning flavoured vaping e-liquid, leaving only tobacco flavours, which would be a huge mistake. There are millions of adult consumers who are using nicotine-based vaping to reduce their harm from cigarettes. Banning flavours now would undoubtedly create an even more massive Black Market as vapers scramble to find and stockpile their favourite flavour. 

To draw another parallel, would you offer recovering alcoholics water that tastes like whiskey, bourbon, or gin? Probably not the smartest move. Similarly, smokers who are trying to quit enjoy flavours, including fruit, sweets, desserts, and menthol. Our DashVapes sales data shows that all age groups enjoy flavours, and the most significant cohort is the 30 to 39 age group. I imagine the sales data is similar to other reputable Canadian vaping retailers and manufacturers. 

As a recovering smoker myself—I smoked 1-to 1-1/2 packs of cigarettes per day for 13 years—the last thing I want is the taste of tobacco in my mouth. My favourite vaping flavour? Green apple. 

Nicotine-based vaping has been used for more than ten years by millions of Canadian smokers to reduce their harm. You are still ingesting nicotine, but you are not ingesting tar, plus about 4,000 other chemicals that we find in cigarettes, cigars, and pipe tobacco. 

So, nicotine-based vaping is not risk-free but reduces your harm substantially. Public Health England (PHE) maintains that vaping is 95% less harmful than tobacco.

Smoking tobacco products kill a ballpark 45,000 Canadians each year, This we know for sure. That’s about 100 per day. In the United States, the respective figures are 480,000 deaths annually (1,300 deaths per day), plus about another 41,000 who die of second-hand smoke, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). 

Illegal behaviour is behind the recent “vaping crisis”: more than 2,000 North American lung-related injuries and about 40 deaths. According to the CDC, these lung illnesses and deaths have been caused by a) people vaping illicit cannabis (THC) and b) people illegally obtaining their e-liquid from the Black Market. Vitamin E acetate has been identified as the likely culprit of lung-related illnesses, an illicit substance that has been added to cannabis vaping products on the Black Market, according to the CDC.

Teenagers have always been testing the boundaries of what they are not supposed to do. Teens experiment with all kinds of substances and behaviours: cigarettes, alcohol, cannabis, mushrooms, prescription drugs, sex, shoplifting, graffiti, and the list goes on. And, they know it is illegal. Rare is the youth that does not get into trouble at some point in their teenage years. Ask any police officer or social worker. Rebellion against their parents, learning who they are as people, and learning how to deal with peer pressure are the hallmarks of the teenage years. 

It is also important to remember that in the United States, cannabis is only legal in 11 of 50 states. In the United States, admitting to vaping an illegal substance—marijuana—is a misdemeanour for the first offence and a felony for the second and subsequent offence(s). 

In Canada, vaping cannabis was made legal on October 17, 2019. These products are not yet available at Ontario Cannabis Stores; it may be available by year-end. Cannabis liquid is very different from nicotine-based e-liquid. It has a different manufacturing process and behaves differently in a vape. 

For the government, the challenge is not to “throw out the baby with the bathwater.” As president of Canada’s largest independent vaping producer, here is what I am for:

1. Strict quality control – Product that is manufactured in sterile labs by, to exacting quality standards that include ISO, GMP, HACCP - Consumers have a right to expect safe vaping products. 

2. Banning of all national advertising - directly reducing the exposure to youth.

3. Limit sales of nicotine-based vaping products to locations that verify age, both in storefronts and online.

4. Limiting the maximum amount of nicotine to 20mg/mL - Reducing the addictiveness of these products, while still maintaining a reasonable threshold for adult smokers looking to transition.

5. Put Black Marketers, with questionable manufacturing practices, and hazardous ingredients out of business. 

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