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Memo to Health Canada: Listen to Consumers!

·4 min read

New poll questions effectiveness of plan to prohibit vaping product flavours

VANCOUVER, BC, May 30, 2022 /CNW Telbec/ - To mark World Vaping Day (May 30), the Consumers' Association of Canada (CAC) released polling it hopes will convince Health Canada to listen to consumers when it comes to the regulation of vaping products – something that has not happened to date.

"Health Canada held a consultation in 2019 seeking the public's views on plans to restrict vaping product flavours, and over 24,000 consumers responded.  Health Canada then issued a report on that consultation that admitted consumer responses were not counted when assessing support for the proposal.  That is unacceptable, and the Canadian public agrees with us on that point," stated Bruce Cran, CAC President.

As proof of that, recent polling conducted for the CAC found that seven in ten Canadians (73%) agreed with the statement that "… in order for the Federal Government to best weigh the effectiveness of policy proposals, it is important that the opinions of consumers most directly impacted by a particular policy proposal be listened to and considered in the decision-making process."

"It seems obvious that in crafting a regulation targeted at a specific group of consumers the government should consider their views and the potential impact on them, yet Health Canada ignored those most impacted when consulting on its proposed flavour restrictions – and that has implications for public health," added Cran.

Opinion research conducted by the CAC revealed a risk that even Health Canada identified: banning most flavoured vaping products may lead some vapers to stop using the products, which most likely means they would return to smoking, which is a far worse health outcome.

  • The poll found 77% of vapers who have reduced their cigarette consumption attributed the decrease to flavours.

  • Of those who currently use flavoured vaping products, 29% said they would not vape or purchase nicotine vaping products if restricted to tobacco, mint and menthol flavours (as Health Canada proposes), and 45% would not vape or purchase nicotine vaping products if restricted to tobacco flavour only.

"It is perverse that Health Canada is considering a regulation that has a high probability of driving vapers back to smoking, when the scientific consensus – even acknowledged by Health Canada – is that vaping is a less harmful alternative for smokers than cigarettes," stated Cran.

The poll also found that, compared to other policy proposals, Canadians do not think Health Canada's proposed flavour restrictions would be as effective in reducing youth vaping.  While 30-34% of Canadians felt flavour restrictions or a complete ban on flavours would be effective measures, 52% felt punishing retailers who furnish vaping products to youth would be effective, followed by national public awareness campaigns to educate and inform youth about the health risks of nicotine vaping (46%), and making it a punishable or legally-enforceable offence for youth under the legal age to possess vaping products (40%).

"There are clearly better policy options to address youth vaping than flavour restrictions that risk driving adult vapers back to smoking.  It is unfortunate Health Canada has taken a prohibition approach that is inconsistent with other products used by youth," stated Cran.

On the latter point, the poll found that more Canadians feel flavoured alcohol and cannabis products are appealing to youth than flavoured nicotine products, yet flavour restrictions are only being targeted at nicotine vaping.

"Flavour restrictions either work or they do not when it comes to preventing youth use.  You cannot say they're needed for nicotine vaping but not alcohol and cannabis.  As an organization that defends consumer choice, we are opposed to prohibitions generally and would like to see more sophisticated policy-making from Health Canada," concluded Cran.

The poll was conducted online by Delphi Polling & Consulting between April 29 and May 10, by way of a demographically representative sample of 1,200 Canadians of legal vaping age in their respective province.  The survey was available in English and French and used interlocking quotas with targets set out in the most recent Census around age, gender, province and language (for Quebec).

About the Consumers' Association of Canada

The Consumers' Association of Canada (CAC), founded in 1947, is an independent, national, not-for-profit, volunteer-based organization. The longest serving and most respected consumer organization in Canada, our mandate is to inform and educate consumers on marketplace issues, to advocate for consumers with government and industry, and to work with government and industry to solve marketplace problems.

SOURCE Consumers' Association of Canada

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Cision

View original content: http://www.newswire.ca/en/releases/archive/May2022/30/c7533.html