March 17, 2020—Canada’s regulatory approach to vaping and e-cigarettes must balance the benefits of vaping as a tool to stop smoking with the risk posed to youths who take up the habit, says a new conference report from the C.D. Howe Institute.
In the report “Vaping and E-Cigarette Regulation in Canada,” experts observe there is significant evidence that vaping is healthier than smoking, but the long-term health risks of various ingredients in “e-juice” and vaping pods remain largely unknown. The lack of understanding about the health effects of various chemicals when aspirated provides significant reason for regulating additives and ingredients in vaping liquids. However, further scientific study is required to identify which ingredients, if any, pose significant risk to long-term health.
The report explores how health recommendations in North America differ significantly from those in the UK, where regulation and public health policy is based on harm reduction and informed by the benefits of switching from combustible cigarettes. “Policies in the UK have been successful in promoting vaping devices as a smoking cessation tool while avoiding increases in youth consumption similar to those observed in Canada and the US,” the report notes. The UK has yet to see any cases of product use-associated lung injury, which could signal their tight regulation for safety and quality is working.
However, the report argues if Canadian policies are developed in a rush or in a moral panic, it could lead to overall approaches that do not have the intended result and could do more harm than good. “Regulations for vaping products should be balanced between making the products inaccessible to youth and unattractive to non-smokers, while also providing smokers some incentive to quit – which requires there to be a better and/or cheaper alternative.”
The C.D. Howe Institute is an independent not-for-profit research institute whose mission is to raise living standards by fostering economically sound public policies. Widely considered to be Canada’s most influential think tank, the Institute is a trusted source of essential policy intelligence, distinguished by research that is nonpartisan, evidence-based and subject to definitive expert review.