Canadian Minister of Health (non)-responds to ACSH s call for more vaping up North

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She Loves to VapeOn March 25th, I wrote to the Honourable Rona Ambrose, Minister of Health, Canada, to implore her to reconsider Canada s misguided policy effectively neutralizing the ability of e-cigarettes to help addicted Canadian smokers quit.:

Dear Commissioner Ambrose: Please allow e-cigarettes including personal vaporizer to contain the nicotine that is usually a key ingredient to allow smokers to quit their deadly habit and switch to low-risk vaping. E-cigarettes contain harmless ingredients, yet supply just about everything a smoker would crave to replace the toxic smoke that will eventually kill over 1/2 of them.

The level of nicotine in vaporizers is not sufficient to harm anyone; to allow e-cigs/PVs without nicotine would be a disservice to the millions of smokers trying to quit. As you probably know, the approved methods are just about useless.

Speaking for The American Council on Science and Health, we implore you to do the right thing for smokers, based on sound science.

Thank you for your attention and consideration

Gilbert Ross MD/ACSH.org

This morning, I received the following "response":

Dear Dr. Ross:

I am responding to your message to the Minister of Health, the Honourable Rona Ambrose, dated March 25, 2014, concerning electronic cigarettes.

Electronic cigarette products that contain any amount of nicotine or have a health claim are subject to the Food and Drugs Act and require approval from Health Canada before they can be sold in Canada. To date, no such product has been approved.

A company wishing to sell an electronic cigarette product that contains nicotine or has health claims would have to provide evidence of safety, quality and effectiveness in order to have its product authorized. To date, there is not sufficient evidence that the potential benefits of electronic cigarettes in helping Canadians to quit smoking outweigh the potential risks. Without this scientific evidence, Health Canada continues to advise Canadians against the use of these products.

Electronic cigarettes with no nicotine and no health claims can be legally sold in Canada as consumer products under the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act (CCPSA). Under that legislation, consumer products do not require authorization by Health Canada prior to being sold in Canada. However, the CCPSA requires that companies must ensure the consumer products they manufacture, import, advertise or sell do not pose a danger to human health or safety.

Thank you for taking the time to share your views. We note that you are writing from New York, NY and we assure you we also monitor closely the actions of international regulators.

Policy, Planning and International Affairs Directorate, Health Products and Food Branch Health Canada Ottawa

While I initially thought this was from the Health Minister herself, in fact it appears to be from the Canadian equivalent of our FDA (Health Products and Food Branch). Nevertheless, it obviously has the imprimatur of the Minister herself.

Which is too bad, because one does not have to speak Canadian to see that the response is merely a re-statement of their nonsensical, destructive policy restricting nicotine levels in Canadian e-cigarettes to...zero. Here is the nugget of the [non-] response, referring to e-cigs with nicotine, a key ingredient for most ex-smoking vapers:

To date, no such product has been approved.

At no time did the response deal with the substantive issues and concerns I raised. So I guess Canadian smokers desperate to quit will have to keep on doing what they have been: relying on ineffective cessation aids, quit by willpower (cold turkey), or (most likely) keep on smoking.