Doug Rutherford

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Analog to digital

December 2014
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In May 2013, I posted that I had started using an electronic cigarette on occasion. The brand I use is Canadian, from a company out of Edmonton, and do not contain nicotine. As such, they are completely legal for sale and use in Canada.

I used both for a considerable period of time, and then, several months ago, moved on to just the e-cigarette. I like to think that I’ve moved from analog to digital.

This is a combination of a lithium ion battery and atomizer, which connects to a cartridge containing the liquid that is used. The liquid is water, glycerin and flavouring. My latest favourite is apple, although I also am quite fond of coffee and chocolate.

I am, frankly, a little confused over Health Canada’s somewhat odd approach to these. While their comments tend to deal with those that do contain nicotine, they seem somewhat against the idea of them. I find it odd that Health Canada would be against a tool that reduces smoking.

Yes, there are studies that indicate just that. A recent one, out of University of Massachusetts Boston, revealed over a three-year long study that people using the nicotine type e-cigarettes for at least one month are six times more likely to quit than those who do not. The recommendations of the authors following the study were:

“Policy makers need to think carefully before enacting any laws that make adult smokers less likely to try these products, such as taxing e-cigarettes as heavily as tobacco or eliminating flavors.”

Given the success rates, it would seem that there would be a reasonable amount of support for these. After all, nicotine really is a stimulant that functions much the same as caffeine. Nicotine replacement products, such as the nicotine replacement patch or Nicorette inhaler (called that in Canada, but the Nicorette E-Cigarette in European marketing), are completely legal when licensed.

Health Canada, however, must also be remembered to be a government body and, as such, answers to the federal minister of health. The minister has the ability to overrule any Health Canada decision (including the results of drug testing, by the way).

Depending on whose figures you use, there are either five or six million smokers in Canada. If you average one pack a day and use the lower number, with approximately $12 of federal and provinces excise taxes and sales taxes on each pack, you can see a probably $60 million per day influx of cash into federal and provincial coffers.

Two month ago, I emailed Health Canada and asked if their lack of support for e-cigarettes are a department policy or at the instruction of the minister. I haven’t gotten an answer…


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