This week has been fairly quiet on news, but it's mainly unchanged from last week. The confirmed culprit is still vitamin E acetate (which we pretty much knew since back in September), and nothing bad found in any nicotine-based eliquid samples.
As you may or may not yet know, the U.S. epidemic has spawned a new set of problems for us here in Canada. Anti-vaping lobbyists have used this situation to go to war against the vaping industry. 8 large health organizations (Action on Smoking and Health, Canadian Cancer Society, Canadian Medical Association, Canadian Lung Association, Coalition québécoise pour le contrôle du tabac, Heart & Stroke, Ontario Campaign for Action on Tobacco and Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada) are now calling for provincial and federal action to restrict marketing and to ban eliquid flavours. As a result, several provinces have tabled proposals to ban flavours, among other restrictions and we expect a fight to happen very soon at the federal level once the new Liberal government is settled in again.
Why is this happening now? Because early on, many U.S. States started implementing emergency measures to ban vaping products in response to the epidemic, ignoring the data and jumping to completely incorrect conclusions. Donald Trump was then pressured by the FDA to ban flavours, the result of which will be known very soon. Canadian Health organizations then took the confusion surrounding the U.S. epidemic, called it a "youth epidemic" (despite the fact that only 15% of cases involved people aged 18 or below), tried to prove it was happening in Canada and failed, dishonestly rolled in some misrepresented statistics about youth uptake (citing people that have tried, but use vaping infrequently), then reached to say that flavours are the root cause. This flawed logic ignores the fact that less than 1% of the youth surveyed were even using a vape for at least 15 out of the last 30 days. It's based on a completely false connection to the U.S. bootleg THC outbreak, and wrapped together with a puritan agenda for prohibition on vaping flavours. Lastly, it fails to address youth uptake by completely ignoring how youth actually acquire the products in the first place.
So how are youth obtaining vape products? The same way they get anything else they shouldn't be allowed to have. Surveys have shown that they're buying from friends/family, convenience stores and online. Public records also show that the majority of underage store purchases occur at convenience stores and NOT specialty vape shops. The laws in Canada already prohibit the sale of vaping products to minors, which vape shops largely abide by. Canadian online shops have warnings and use ID age verification service through Canada Post to verify age at the time of delivery. Failure to provide ID results in the package being returned to the shop. The problem is when youth buy from websites based in the United States and China, where there is no such age verification in effect. As for friends and family furnishing vape products, unfortunately there is literally nothing that can be done through legislation. Anyone who says otherwise is being dishonest and ignoring decades of evidence to the contrary. It makes no sense to limit product flavour choice for consenting adults that are trying to quit smoking. This will only serve to grow the existing black market, which if the THC industry has taught us anything, will eventually cause health problems if they can be created.
What are we doing about it? In Manitoba, we're leading the way through meetings with legislators to educate them about vaping. We were part of the board of directors for the Electronic Cigarette Trade Association and currently serve as regional chair for the Canadian Vaping Association to assist with education and advocacy efforts. We're working hard to protect your right to vape.
Here are a few articles from this week:
NBC article covering the recent CDC findings regarding lung fluid samples (29 of 29) all containing vitamin E acetate, found directly at the injury site. No other harmful contaminants identified.
Rising popularity of vaping blamed for decrease in tobacco settlement payments in West Virginia (follow the money...)
The last article is important to understand to truly appreciate why the United States, often thought of as the land of freedom, is using an unrelated THC epidemic to fuel such a massive and coordinated attack on a harm reduction industry that takes aim directly at tobacco. We should be on the same side, but the disconnect becomes apparent once you learn about the Master Settlement Agreement, and the junk bonds the States issued that are currently set to default very soon. For a bit of a closer look, have a read through this old article from Reuters on the MSA and the risk of bonds defaulting:
That's it for this week. We hope to see the CDC completely exonerate traditional vaping in the near future once they're satisfied with their scientific findings and we will continue to fight passionately for your right to vape. Thank you for your support and have a great weekend!