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Standing Committee on Health


NUMBER 091 
l
1st SESSION 
l
42nd PARLIAMENT 

EVIDENCE

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

[Recorded by Electronic Apparatus]

  (1730)  

[English]

     We'll call our meeting to order. This is meeting number 91. We're here to talk about Bill S-5, an act to amend the Tobacco Act and the Non-smokers’ Health Act.
    We certainly welcome the Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor, the Minister of Health. As additional witnesses, we have Simon Kennedy, Deputy Minister; James Van Loon, Director General, Tobacco Control Directorate; and, Denis Choinière, Director, Tobacco Products Regulatory Office.
     We have a short time with the minister and I want to try to make sure that everybody gets their opportunity to ask a question, so I am going to hold everybody to the time limit, which I usually don't do. I'm going to hold everyone to the time limit for answers and questions. Mr. McKinnon and Dr. Eyolfson have agreed to limit their seven-minute times to five minutes so that Mr. Ayoub can have four minutes at the end.
     First of all, we have opening statements.
    Fire away, Minister. You have 10 minutes.
     Once again, I'd like to thank the committee members for inviting me here this evening. I'm very pleased that you are studying this piece of legislation, as it's extremely important. Thank you so much for your hard work.
    Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to be here this evening to speak about Bill S-5. I want to begin by thanking the committee members for the work they have done to help shape this bill.

[Translation]

     Your report entitled “Vaping: Towards a Regulatory Framework for E-cigarettes” highlights the necessity to protect young people from the dangers of nicotine addiction while giving adults smokers access to vaping products as a less harmful nicotine source. Bill S-5 responds to this report’s recommendations; your efforts served to clarify important provisions of the legislation.
    Colleagues, the necessity to update existing tobacco legislation is quite obvious. As you know, smoking remains a very concerning public heath issue in Canada. Despite decades of progress, tobacco-related diseases kill 45 000 Canadians each year, or one person every 12 minutes. These statistics are very sobering and, as Minister of Health, I find them unacceptable. As such, our government is trying to reduce smoking rates in Canada from 25% in 2015 to less than 5 % by 2035.

  (1735)  

[English]

    As we work towards this goal, we need to recognize that tobacco use in Canada is changing. Vaping products such as e-cigarettes are becoming more popular. From a public health perspective, we believe this poses both challenges and opportunities.
    Bill S-5 strikes the right balance between protecting Canadians and leveraging the potential benefits of vaping products. It also addresses an important need by establishing a new legislative framework for the regulation of these products. This bill is a key element of the government's broader tobacco control agenda, which includes taking further action to ban menthol in tobacco products, implementing plain packaging requirements for tobacco products, and, finally, modernizing Canada's approach to tobacco control.

[Translation]

    Since it was introduced, Bill S-5 has been thoroughly examined and amended. Last spring, the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology embarked on a rigorous scrutiny of that legislation. It heard evidence from 22 witnesses representing 15 organizations, including consumer advocates, tobacco and vaping industry representatives, public health experts, academics, and government officials. Their invaluable comments clarified many recent amendments to the Bill under consideration today.

[English]

     Many experts feel that vaping is a less harmful alternative to smoking. I have heard from Canadians who believe that vaping helped them quit smoking. Nevertheless, we must be cautious. There are risks to consider. Stakeholders have told us that they worry about how vaping products could affect young people. I want you to know that we share their concerns. We must ensure that the availability and prevalence of vaping products does not induce young people and non-smokers to develop nicotine addictions, which could lead them to start smoking.
    That is why Bill S-5 would prohibit the sale of vaping products to youth under the age of 18, in line with the current minimum age of tobacco sales. Protecting youth from the dangers of nicotine addiction is a top priority of mine. I share some of the concerns expressed by the Quebec Coalition for Tobacco Control and others, especially regarding lifestyle promotion.
    We do not allow lifestyle promotion of tobacco products, and we do not intend to allow it for cannabis products. To protect youth and non-smoking Canadians, I intend to support an amendment that would prohibit all lifestyle promotion of vaping products.
    That said, I understand the potential of vaping products as a harm reduction tool. Marketing based solely on factual information will be allowed, with restrictions. For example, there are concerns that certain flavours could potentially make vaping products more appealing to young people. We recognize that some adults prefer flavoured vaping products, but we also know that certain flavours could attract youth to vaping, something that we absolutely want to avoid.
    For this reason, Bill S-5 restricts the marketing and promotion of flavours such as candy, which would be appealing to youth. We have already taken significant action when it comes to flavoured tobacco by expanding the ban on menthol to cover 95% of all tobacco products. Bill S-5 was amended to go even further, to ban the use of menthol and clove in all tobacco products. We believe these measures will help protect Canadian youth from the serious, long-term health effects of nicotine addiction and tobacco use.

[Translation]

    As I mentioned earlier, Bill S-5 has also advanced our objective of imposing plain and standardized packaging for tobacco products. Thanks to increasingly binding federal directives, the tobacco industry's capacity to attract new smokers, especially among young people, by promoting and advertising tobacco products has greatly decreased. In fact, packaging is one of the last restricted channels in which to do such advertising.
    Research shows that promotion through packaging and product design is particularly effective with teenagers and young adults. Coloured packaging that includes logos, textures, and brand names can have a huge impact on young people at a stage of their life when they develop brand loyalty and adopt a smoker’s behaviour.
    Conversely, plain packaging was shown to reduce access to tobacco products, especially by young people. Ninety percent of daily adult smokers over the age of 25 smoked their first cigarette before the age of 18. That is why tobacco-control leaders around the world focus on the plain and standardized packaging of tobacco products.
    I think that we can all agree that tobacco companies should not be allowed to use packaging to make a harmful product more attractive. It is still important to adopt Bill S-5 in order for Canada to also implement those important and effective tobacco control measures.

  (1740)  

[English]

    In conclusion, Bill S-5 is a well-researched and balanced piece of legislation. It aims to protect young Canadians from developing nicotine addiction and from using tobacco. At the same time, it would allow adults to legally access vaping products as a less harmful alternative to tobacco. In addition, this legislation supports our government's efforts to implement plain and standardized packaging of tobacco products.
    Bill S-5 reflects the considered opinions of many stakeholders, including public health experts, industry representatives, consumer advocates, and academics. The results of this strong piece of legislation will allow us to regulate the growing market for vaping products and advance the tobacco control agenda.
    Thank you so much for your attention here this evening. I'd be absolutely pleased to take your questions.
     I suspect you'll get some.
    We'll start off with Mr. McKinnon.
    Thank you, Minister, for joining us here today, and thank you for this great bill.
    You mentioned in your remarks, and we heard from many witnesses, some concern about the prohibition on the promotion of flavours for vaping products. You mentioned that we want to be strong about prohibiting these flavours. Could you explain why this measure is important?
    Yes, the objectives of Bill S-5 are twofold. First of all, as health minister, my first priority is to protect the health and safety of our youth, and that's moving forward one of the main objectives of this bill. The other objective is to seize the opportunity. We recognize that there are several tobacco smokers right now who are wanting to switch from using tobacco and to transfer to vaping products. We can see that there could be some benefit to that.
    We don't want to allow young people to be encouraged to use vaping products. That's why we want to ensure that there are strict regulations in place with respect to marketing and promotion. We don't want them to be enticed by that at all. On the other end of the spectrum, we also recognize that flavoured products, for some Canadians, can help them with kicking the habit of smoking and using vaping as an alternative option.
    Going back to the youth, we want to make sure that the actual names of the flavours should not be appealing to youth in any way. For example, I think all kids like cotton candy, and probably some adults do too. We want to make sure these types of names won't be used for the flavours of the product, because, again, that name would be appealing to children.
    With respect to the adult population, we want to make sure they have access to the flavours. But at the same time, we need to make sure we strike a balance, that we allow it for adult consumers while not making it appealing to our youth.
    Thank you, Minister.
    A number of witnesses have claimed that vaping products are safer than tobacco products, and you mentioned this in your remarks. How do we know this? How do we know that vaping products are, in fact, less harmful than tobacco products?

  (1745)  

     The research is clear when it comes to tobacco. We know that tobacco kills Canadians. When we look at our annual statistics, we see that we lose 45,000 Canadians per year as a result of tobacco. If we break that down, that's one Canadian dying every 12 minutes as a result of tobacco. We recognize that it's an extreme risk and that the research is there.
    Research shows that vaping products are less harmful than tobacco. That being said, it doesn't mean it is without risks. We recognize that if we look at the two substances, we have one that is less harmful than the other. When we look at harm reduction mechanisms, we recognize that vaping products can be a safer alternative than smoking tobacco.
    Thank you, Minister.
    Now we'll go to Ms. Finley.
    Minister, thank you for appearing here.
    I'm very pleased to hear that you're open to amendments, recognizing that there are alternatives to smoking, that smokers who want to quit may need some help, may need some adjustment. I'm pleased to hear that you're willing to accommodate amendments that will allow this to be known. As the bill stands now, a smoker who wants to look for alternative nicotine products would have no way of finding out about them, because there's no advertising allowed to them, presumably to their doctors, or even to smoking cessation clinics. I think you'd agree that this would not be in the best interest of public health. Would you agree?
    Pardon me?
    If people didn't know about these alternative products, that would not be in the best interest of public health. Do you agree?
    We've discussed vaping here today. There are other products that can help, that have proven very popular in the world. In fact, in Japan, non-combustibles, in less than two years, took over 10% of the market for smokers. They're expected to hit almost 20% of the market for smokers by the end of this year.
     These products have been demonstrated to be far less harmful to smokers than cigarettes, yet this bill doesn't recognize them and would lump them in with cigarettes. Therefore, they would not be allowed to be advertised either. How do you square that with the improvements in public health and safety that these products could provide?
    With respect to the combustibles, we've made it very clear that tobacco products are tobacco products. The research is very clear that tobacco is very dangerous and kills Canadians. With respect to this piece of legislation that we're bringing forward, we are proposing the same types of requirements for all tobacco products.
    With respect to the information that will be available to Canadians with respect to alternatives, we certainly want to make sure that that information is based on science and we certainly want to make sure that if there's appropriate information that's available to be provided to Canadians we absolutely want to make sure that that is going to be allowed. However, it has to be based on science.
    We've made a recommendation that if there's any informational type of material that is available Health Canada will certainly look at the information and then from there make the best decision to ensure that that information is factual, based on science, and then that would be provided to Canadians.
    Would studies from other countries be acceptable?
    We would certainly look at studies. However, we also have to make sure that those studies are not being sponsored by any type of manufacturer, to make sure that they're based on science and not being influenced by industry.
    We heard on Monday allegations that some of the research was funded and this committee was led to believe that some of the research had been funded by “big tobacco” when, in fact, the people who had done the research said flatly they had not been.
    We need to do the research on that, as well, to make sure that you're not being led down the garden path in terms of a bias there. As a smoker, I'd like to know what alternatives are available but this bill won't let me find out.
    I have another question for you. Are you familiar with the tobacco contraband market at all?
    Yes, I am.
    You are aware of the size and who benefits from that?

  (1750)  

    I'm not familiar with all the details, but I'm certainly aware of the contraband market.
    It is huge in this country. It's cross-border with the United States business. A lot of the money either comes from, or goes to finance, or is laundered because of illegal activities, things like human trafficking, things like the drug trade, arms trade, with really nasty people.
    By going to plain packaging it will be much easier for these actors to present counterfeit or contraband packets of cigarettes. These can be filled with all sorts of nasty chemicals, used animal parts, things that even a smoker shouldn't have to tolerate.
    I'm wondering how you think that that will be in the best interests of the smokers, but also whether you have thought of the harm that will come from that if organized crime is allowed to expand as this bill would allow them to do.
    The area of contraband has certainly been researched and has been looked at. There is no evidence that shows that there's a link between plain packaging cigarettes and the increase of the contraband market at all. We have looked at research that's been conducted in Australia, as they've done significant research in this area, and really our bill is very much based on the work that they've done in that country. Once again, through their research they've seen no link that plain packaging has increased the contraband market.
    Our government has made investments with respect to RCMP, Public Safety, and also Canada Border Services to ensure that they have access to the tools and the people they need to conduct the investigations in this area. When we look at the research, there is no link between plain packaging and increasing contraband.
    Minister, we were presented with a report on Monday that said, in fact, the contraband rate in Australia had gone up by close to 20%, an estimated 20% to 25%, after plain packaging was introduced there. It only stands to reason that when there is no differentiation, as a consumer, I have no idea which product I'm buying. If you go to plain sticks, I have no way of knowing what the product is and law enforcement will have no visible way of recognizing whether these are legitimate products or whether they're illicit.
    Once again, information that we've received from the Australian government has made it very clear that they have seen no link between the plain packaging of cigarettes and the area of contraband. That is the information that we've been advised of.
    I'd be happy to provide you with that for your information. Meanwhile, could you answer me how, as a consumer I'm going to know whether I'm getting a legitimate product and how law enforcement agencies in my area, which is rife with illicit tobacco products, can identify these visibly?
     Well, first and foremost, when purchasing legal tobacco products in Canada, we recognize that there's a tax stamp on the product. All of the measures that are in place, when you're buying those products through legitimate areas, go through the process, and those markings are very clear on the products when you purchase tobacco products in Canada legally.
    Time is up.
    Mr. Davies, you have seven minutes.
    Thank you, Minister, for being here.
    Minister, I want to congratulate you on bringing this legislation in. I think it's overdue. I wish that you had brought it in sooner, because we all know that every day we wait, thousands of young Canadians try smoking, and many of them become addicted. We know that 50%, I think is the statistic we heard, of people who start smoking will eventually die of a tobacco-related illness, so every day that we wait is a day that more Canadians are going to ultimately die of this highly addictive product.
    My question to you as Minister of Health—and we're the health committee—is, do you agree that nicotine is highly addictive?
    Do you also agree that nicotine, in whatever form it's marketed, is something that we should be taking every step we can to discourage Canadians from using?
    Of course, we all know that nicotine itself is highly addictive. Once people start, no matter how it's ingested, it's very difficult to quit.
     I'm glad to hear that you have seen one of the major flaws in this bill. We heard testimony on Monday from a variety of groups who spoke to the promotional advertising of vaping products. Now, we all know that vaping is a purer form of nicotine delivery, but as you just acknowledged, and I think you're right, we don't want Canadians to become addicted to nicotine. The value of the vaping that we heard at this committee in testimony was that it's probably estimated 95% safer than tobacco ingestion, and it's very useful, perhaps, as a harm reduction method, a smoking cessation tool for smokers.
    My question to you then is, why did this legislation come forward, almost three years after it was promised, with provisions that would allow tobacco companies to market vaping with promotions and with advertising using billboards, television, radio, Internet, video games, newspapers, corner store windows, bars, text messages, and social media? They could use contests, trips, draws, tickets to concerts and sporting events, which are all directed at people who don't smoke, therefore leading them to be more likely to pick up the habit of vaping and ingesting nicotine. Are they the provisions of this bill that, you in your opening statement, you said we should amend?

  (1755)  

    Absolutely. Again, as health minister, my responsibility is the health and safety of Canadians. My specific priority, when I look at Bill S-5, is also is that I have a bias with respect to youth. I really want to make sure that we keep these products out of the hands of our youth. We also want to prevent our Canadians and our young people from being addicted to nicotine. You're absolutely right. In moving forward, we've been working very hard to ensure that this bill gets through the Senate and also the House to ensure that we can get this to fruition.
    With respect to the area of the amendments that I've indicated in my opening statements I absolutely welcome, I welcome an amendment to the area of lifestyle promotion. I, in no way, feel that it should be allowed in the public sphere. We recognize that we need to limit that, because we certainly want to ensure that Canadians are not going to be enticed to start smoking, either our youth or our adults who aren't smokers now.
    I was going to get to that, too, because these are all advertisements that could be directed at people in bars. One of the suggestions we heard, if it's really our goal to use e-cigarettes and vaping as a smoking cessation tool directed at smokers and not at the general public to encourage them to pick up nicotine, was to keep the advertising to the cigarette package so that you're delivering the direct message to the smoker every time they buy a pack of cigarettes while eliminating the possibility that vaping marketing will be directed at non-smokers. Would that be something that you would support?
    I'm sorry, can you...?
    Yes, ban all advertising and promotion of vaping other than on the cigarette packages, if our goal is to direct the message to smokers that vaping exists so that they can use that to maybe pick up vaping as a safer method of ingesting nicotine.
     The information with respect to promotion and marketing of these types of products is very restrictive.
    For vaping it's not.
    It's still very restrictive. We certainly want to make sure that there are informational types of products that will be available to Canadians, but in no way do we want to encourage.... When we look at the lifestyle amendments that I'm proposing—
    Okay.
    —we are certainly looking at making sure that information will be very restrictive. It's going to have to be based on science. People are not going to be able to just come up with slogans with respect to that.
    I'm going to move to a different subject, if I could, that of plain packaging. I talked to Nicola Roxon, the former Australian health minister, who told me that tobacco companies are extremely sophisticated and will exploit every single loophole in plain packaging legislation. I'm sure you were told the same.
    In the consultation document on the proposed regulations concerning plain packaging, Health Canada did not include the option of further regulating brand names, beyond limiting the number of words that they can contain. Ms. Roxon told me that's something we should look at because we don't want a company to change their name to “Smoking Makes you Slimmer Inc.” or “Smoking Is Sexy Inc.”
    Right now the only provisions are to limit the number of words, not the type of advertising that could be used in the company name. Would you be open to such an amendment if that were the case?
    Certainly. When we look at the issue of plain packaging, there was extremely limited information available and that's allowed on plain packaging as it is right now. We want to make sure that only the name is allowed, but also, as you're well aware, that the information with respect to health warnings and graphics is there.

  (1800)  

    What I'm telling you is that the brand names are limited only by the number of words they can contain—the number of words—and not what the words are. It's a potential part on the cigarette package that could be exploited for lifestyle advertising.
    Would you be open to us amending that, if that's the case?
    At this point, as the legislation stands, we would have regulatory authority to make that change.
    I just want to ask ...
    A very quick one, just 10 seconds.
    Australia, France, and the U.K. all have plain packaging. Minister, do you have any information about the impact of plain packaging on smoking rates in those countries?
    I can say that last year I had the privilege to meet the health minister in France. I was there for the G7 meetings and we had an opportunity to talk about the different health issues in our countries. When we look at obesity rates in Canada, we know that they are very high, but surprisingly, in France, it's very much the opposite.
    What she's concerned about are the high smoking rates in their country. They've indicated they've moved forward with respect to the issue of plain packaging and they have seen a decrease in the numbers. Now it's very much in its early stages, but they've already seen a decrease in the numbers when it comes to young people in France with respect to smoking rates.
    We are certainly looking at different countries and the work that they're doing. We see that the trend is decreasing. We're following the example of the many countries that have already introduced plain packaging, and we certainly know that it can be effective.
    Thanks very much.
    Dr. Eyolfson, you have five minutes.
    Having practised medicine for almost 20 years, this has been an issue near and dear to my heart, as I said in my remarks during the debates.
    I want to refer to the studies mentioned by the honourable member across the way that suggest a link between plain packaging and contraband tobacco and its associated terrible crimes. Are you aware of any research that is not sponsored by tobacco companies or their paid lobbyists that is credible, that makes claims that there are increases in contraband tobacco due to plain packaging?
    No, in fact, the information that we've received is very clear that plain packaging absolutely works. It's certainly an approach that many countries have used, and we see studies time and time again that show they are very effective.
    There was even a Canadian study done recently that showed young Canadian women are three times more likely to smoke cigarettes from a branded package as opposed to plain package. Again, when we look at the issue of plain packaging, we certainly recognize that it's effective. It's less attractive to smokers, and especially to our young population.
    All right, thank you.
    Likewise, there are claims that there is contrary data on the rates of smoking, that it does work or does not work. I spent a lot of time going through the research. We had one witness, from the Canadian Cancer Society I believe, who actually had a stack of 150 peer-reviewed studies that showed the effectiveness of plain packaging on smoking rates. Yet some say the jury is still out on this.
    Again, in a similar vein, are you aware of any research sponsored by a non-tobacco company or a tobacco lobbyist that makes a credible case for plain packaging not working to decrease smoking rates?
     Once again, I have to reiterate my previous response to that. The information that we've received certainly shows a direct correlation between plain packaging and reduction in the rates of tobacco use.
    Two weeks ago I had the privilege to meet with the Canadian Cancer Society, and they also shared with me a lot of information that was based on research and science. The evidence is really quite overwhelming that when it comes to tobacco, plain packaging is absolutely an effective way to see a downward trend of tobacco use.
    The experience in France was brought up a little earlier. How long ago did France initiate plain packaging?
    It will be going on over a three-year period, and I believe the start date was in 2017. The trend showed that a significant percentage of smokers who stopped smoking did so during the beginning of that transition phase. We're still looking at that information very closely, but preliminary findings show that there's certainly a link there, and we'll continue to look at the evaluation.

  (1805)  

    With respect to vaping, I appreciate the fact that you want to make amendments restricting the advertising of vaping. We've heard some claims that vaping is less harmful. Are you aware of any trends or research indicating that those who have never smoked but who start vaping are likely to go on to smoking tobacco?
    I haven't seen any specific research with respect to that, but that's why it's really important for us to strike that balance with the proposed Bill S-5. We really want to make sure that we in no way promote vaping products to children under the age of 18, or promote them to anyone who's a non-smoker at this point in time. We don't want to create another generation of people who are addicted to this substance. That is why we're very restrictive with respect to our marketing and our promotional materials, to ensure they don't encourage young people to want to start this habit.
    That being said, as I've indicated, we also recognize that it can be a very good harm reduction approach when it comes to smokers. We certainly want to ensure that the products are available for those who smoke right now, with the hope that they are going to be able to wean themselves off.
    I have something to share with you if I have the time, Mr. Chair.
    You're time is done.
    I will continue on the next round. Thank you.
    Thanks very much.
    Now we'll go to Mr. Albas, for five minutes.
    Thank you, Mr. Chair. It's a pleasure to be here today as a guest on the committee.
    Minister, it's nice to see you. I haven't interacted with you since you left our finance committee table. I'm sure you don't miss us, but we miss you.
    I'd like to follow up with my colleague MP Finley in regard to plain packaging. First of all, we have a public health care system in this country that obviously is funded by tax dollars. If you have any leakage, so to speak, in the system of excise tax for cigarettes or whatnot, that means that some other dollars are going to have to pick up for it. I'm a little concerned when you say the CRA excise stamp will clearly identify what is a legal product and what is an illegal product, because it has been brought up that those stamps have been found on illegal baggies.
    Have you heard of this, Minister?
    Yes, I have.
    Have you encouraged the Minister of National Revenue to conduct a review of the program in regard to how these CRA excise stamps are ending up on illegal, counterfeit products—contraband?
    As I indicated earlier, resources have been put in place to provide the RCMP, Public Safety, and also Canada Border Services with the resources they need to ensure they can conduct the work that is needed in this area. The area of contraband is an issue.
    As health minister, my priority is the health and safety of Canadians, and I truly want to ensure that we do all we can to reduce the number of smokers in this country and ensure that people do not get addicted to nicotine products.
    Further to my colleague's suggestion, though, if illegal contraband products are now displaying the CRA stamp, and you're suggesting that this is going to be the sole differentiation between an illegal product and a legal one, what will end up happening is that not only will smokers inadvertently purchase the illegal products, they will not be contributing to our tax system and they will be consuming things when we don't know what is in them. By the same token, Minister, we're going to see reduced revenues. Again, the lower the cost is, usually the higher the consumption. That's basic microeconomics.
    Minister, are there other steps beyond the excise stamp? I don't think this has been battle-tested. If you have a program that is currently not working as intended, to now count on plain packaging as the sole differentiator is not a very good plan.
     I want to be clear. We take the issue of contraband very seriously, and that is why we have provided resources to our three main agencies—as I listed earlier, with respect to the RCMP and Canada Border Services—to do the work that is needed. I have to reiterate that we take the issue of contraband seriously.

  (1810)  

    I appreciate that you've talked to the Minister of National Revenue.
    I'd like to switch gears now to vaping. The bill gives you the power to schedule and list certain types of products. You've said it's to protect children, and I don't disagree that we need to protect children. What I would say, first of all, is that marijuana is listed as being on there; however, it seems kind of interesting to me that you would say you have to be 18 to buy a vaping product, you can't buy marijuana-flavoured vaping products, yet you can go and buy—under the new regime that you proposed in Bill C-46 and Bill C-45—marijuana. Why have you listed marijuana as one of the flavours that cannot be sold?
    If I understand your question correctly, with respect to the possibility of being able to vape cannabis types of products down the road, that part of the legislation will not be allowed until the first year of the passing of Bill C-45. When it comes to vaping cannabis, that would be considered a form of concentrate.
    Flavour; I'm talking about the flavours that have been banned. It may not even be real cannabis inside of it, just a flavour that's been banned.
    Do you mean with respect to Bill S-5?
    Yes. It's in there.
    We're not allowing cannabis flavour, because once again, we certainly want to make sure that it's not going to be attractive to youth.
    You're just allowing the real thing on another side, and yet you're saying that you can't let adults who are 18 and older access marijuana-flavoured vaping products. To me, that just makes absolutely no sense.
    The last thing I would suggest, Minister, is in scheduling these kinds of things. What happens if someone starts naming their products...? Instead of cotton candy, why don't they just start saying Life Saver, or rainbow flavoured, or those kinds of things? I think this is going to be a very troublesome regime for your office because markets will move rather quickly.
    Could you respond to those concerns?
    Respond very quickly, please.
    I think, once again, we're talking about apples and oranges here. I think we have to be very, very clear. We are moving forward with Bill S-5 with respect to the issue of flavour. We want to make sure that there are strict restrictions in place to ensure that in no way will these products be attractive to children.
    We also recognize, however, that there are benefits to adults who choose to use these products. Going from smoking to using vaping products, the evidence is clear that it's less harmful. That is why we're moving forward with this balanced type of regime to ensure that we can offer the products to those who need it.
    Thank you very much.
    Mr. Oliver, you have five minutes.
    Thank you very much for being here. Welcome back to the health committee.
    There's been a good discussion already about the balancing act that's here in Bill S-5. One one hand, we want to get our youth away from nicotine and away from tobacco. We don't want them to be enticed or brought in to become addicted to nicotine. For me, that is the number one priority. I've heard you say that as well. That is, to me, what must happen, and that's what Bill S-5 is continuing to further.
    We have a second item, though, which is trying to move adults who have tobacco smoking habits onto a healthier way of consuming nicotine than smoking. Those are the competing agendas. Personally, I don't think the balance is there. I think you've mentioned a few times that you think it's there, so I was delighted to hear that you're entertaining an amendment on lifestyle. I think that's a very important one, so thank you for that.
    My second point, though, is on location of advertising and location for vapour product advertising. I have a 13-year-old son. I don't want to be at my neighbourhood bus stop with him with a vaping advertisement on my local bus stop. I don't want to go to the movie theatre and try to explain what vaping is and why vaping is a product that's being advertised. I don't want to go to the local hockey rink and explain to him what vaping is and why it's done. Location is a critical issue. I believe that, with the way it's set up now, we're going to be exposing young Canadians to vape products when we don't have to.
    The Canadian Cancer Society was very strong on this one. What they said about Bill S-5 was that the vaping restrictions are weaker than the Tobacco Act and Bill C-45 for cannabis, that the vaping product advertising restrictions are weaker than in almost every other developed country except for the United States, and—these are all location advertising—the provisions regarding the location of vaping advertising are so weak that they resemble those of the 1964 tobacco industry advertising.
    I guess my question to you is this. Would you please consider an amendment—and I'd like to bring one forward—that also restricts the location of advertising for vaping? I think there are lots of ways to communicate to adults who are smokers that vaping is a better way to consume nicotine, other than putting it on hockey rink boards. Would you consider an amendment on location?

  (1815)  

     Yes, as you have indicated with regard to the lifestyle advertisement, I'm very open to an amendment on that, as we've heard a lot of testimony on that over the past few weeks. I would welcome that type of amendment because we certainly want to make sure we are in no way encouraging non-smokers, non-vaping users, to get into that.
    What about location?
    With regard to where the factual information on vaping can be placed—and once again it's not an advertisement promoting the product—I've been advised that we have extensive regulatory powers to choose where that information can be posted.
    Why wouldn't we just restrict it to the point of sale? I don't see a need for that advertising. I haven't mentioned it, but what worries me is the Cancer Society also wanted to make sure there were restrictions on brand preference advertising. Even though you're stopping lifestyle, you're going to get promotion of vaping products with branding and in other ways. The cigarette industry has learned to do this stuff like nobody else on the planet. They can make a product look exciting. I saw little cigarettes that were glittery and looked like a tube of lipstick.
    I think if we don't restrict location, we're going to see exciting vaping products on hockey rinks and all over our communities, just because they have been marketed that way, although they are not really lifestyle. I would encourage you again to think about accepting an amendment on location.
    Again, as indicated, with respect to the regulations in place, we have the authority to restrict where that marketing is going to be. I think as well we have to strike that balance because we also want to target individual smokers. We want them to be able to move on to the vaping alternative.
    Again, as I've indicated, in no way am I saying that vaping is harmless. We know harm is associated with it, but we also recognize that tobacco use is even more dangerous. That is why it's important for us to strike that balance between the two.
    It's a point very well taken, and that is why we do have the power within our regulations to be able to choose those locations.
    Thank you very much.
    Now we go to Ms. Gladu.
    Thank you, Minister, for appearing.
    I want to talk a bit about young people and vaping. I'm very concerned that young people are going to see vaping, because you will be able to vape wherever you can smoke. We heard some very disturbing statistics in our previous testimony about the number of young people who have already tried vaping and the likelihood that once they get vaping, they will begin smoking.
    If I look at the existing situation, we have these illegal vape shops, and when the regulations are brought in to regulate the industry.... They have not had a great track record keeping these things out of the hands of children. The convenience stores on the other hand have a very good track record in making sure they check age before they sell tobacco products.
    What are we going to do in inspection, auditing, or whatever on these vaping operations that are illegal today, and will we allow the convenience stores to participate in vaping sales?
     You bring up some very good points, Ms. Gladu.
    Protecting youth is a priority of mine as health minister. We recognize at this point that the vaping industry in Canada is worth millions of dollars.
    We recognize people are selling products all over the place. The products they purchase are unregulated. We don't know where they come from, and there are no requirements for the devices they use to vape.
    That is why Bill S-5 is so important because we certainly want to make sure the rules are put in place to control these types of products. Keeping it out of the hands of our children is a priority. That is why setting the minimum age of 18 for youth consumption is a step in the right direction because, as you have indicated, we certainly want to make sure the area for their access to it is going to be extremely limited.
    With regard to the sales of the products, I'm going to be frank. I'm going to have to turn it over to one of my officials, Denis, as to exactly where it's going to be sold because I don't have the specific details.

  (1820)  

     We have eight provinces that already have measures in place for limiting sales to youth of vaping products. What we do nationally is establish a minimum across the country. Already there have been measures put in place in a number of provinces. They have tobacco inspectors. We also have tobacco inspectors. As I said on tobacco before, we'll be working together as well on vaping. Some provinces will have the ability to decide who will sell tobacco products and vaping products. For example, many provinces have banned the sale of tobacco products in hospitals, schools, universities, and so forth. On vaping products, they will also have to decide where those sales will be taking place. It's not something we would do federally.
    Okay.
    I'll go back to the minister. Did I understand you correctly? Did you say that in terms of the vaping of marijuana, that won't be allowed until one year after Bill C-45 is implemented?
    Correct. With respect to the issue of being able to vape marijuana, that would be considered a concentrated type of product. That would only be available a year after the coming into force of Bill C-45. It's very much like edibles. We recognize that when we've had conversations or testimony—we've heard testimony from our colleagues in Colorado—
    That's okay. I get it.
    I want to go back to the contraband issue and the protections.
    We heard about the 17 different technologies that go into the CRA excise stamps, but there was also a suggestion that using an alphanumeric marker on the individual sticks might be helpful. What are the other protection technologies that you're considering? We did hear the contraband market is, conservatively, 30% in Canada; and in some places, like in my riding, it's just rife.
    Once again, as I indicated earlier, we take the issue of contraband extremely seriously. With respect to the details, with respect to the stamping of the products, I'm going to have to turn it over to one of my colleagues here.
     We do take that very seriously. First of all, I would say, again, that we don't see any evidence that plain and standardized packaging contributes to the problem of illicit trade. This is what we hear from the other regulators who've moved down the way. We do see evidence that it reduces the appeal of the products, especially to young people.
    On the topic of how to deal with the problem of contraband, we agree this is a serious problem that needs to be addressed. Over the last five years, the government spent $43 million working on the contraband issue through various partnerships, with Public Safety, the RCMP, CBSA, and various other police forces.
    On the tax stamps, they have overt and covert markings, absolutely. Bill S-5 provides us with the authority to require alphanumeric stamping on individual tobacco products. That would help with tracking.
    Finally, when I look at the Australian model, they have allowed covert marks on the packs by industry. That's something we're looking at and considering as we figure out what the regulations will actually say.
    Thanks very much.
    Now we go to Ms. Sidhu for five minutes.
    Thank you, Minister, for joining us today.
    Certainly we want to reduce the number of people who use tobacco products. You said— even the Cancer Society—that there's some evidence that the impact of tobacco is reduced when using vaping products. What kind of research has been done to ensure these products are safe? Two, what are the plans for ongoing research to track the safety of these products?
    Once again, we recognize that the vaping industry is a very new industry. As a result, the research is fairly new as well, but we certainly continue to monitor all research that's available. What we see thus far is that vaping products show that they are safer than tobacco use. Again, we're not saying that vaping is without any harms associated with it, but we certainly recognize, when we look at the level of risk, that it's less harmful than tobacco use.
    With respect to vaping, we continue to invest in that area. In the area of CIHR, there is some investment, some research, that is presently being done there. Again, we continue to monitor all the research because we certainly want to make sure that if there are any changes needed, we want to be able to address that very quickly.
    We continue to look at all of the research that is out there, and we continue to invest in that area as well.

  (1825)  

    Okay.
    One of the stated targets in the new tobacco control measures is to reduce the rate of tobacco use to less than 5% by 2035. Could you please tell us how you and your department are approaching this strategy?
     As you're aware, we continue to work on our tobacco strategy at the moment. We've finished off a consultation process with many Canadians. In December of this year, we released our “What We Heard” report with respect to those consultations.
    As a result of those consultations, we are taking all that information in hand. That is going to form the next part of our framework moving forward. We recognize that if we want to attain the objective of reducing tobacco use by 2035, we have to move forward. With respect to the area of Bill S-5, this is absolutely a step in the right direction. We recognize when we look at the issue of plain packaging that there's an absolute correlation and that we'll see the number of smokers reduced as a result.
    That is why I'm very pleased that we're able to move forward with this legislation, and I'm looking forward to seeing it receive royal assent. From there, we'll be able to enforce the rules and regulations that will be in place. From there, we'll be continuing with other components of our strategy to make sure that we can work hard to achieve our 2035 target.
    Is there any public education campaign on tobacco harm reduction and nicotine addiction?
    With respect to the issue of public education and awareness, there is an investment of $6.1 million in that area, and also with respect to vaping products because, again, it's a very new product that's on the market. We also want to make sure that people are aware of the risks associated with vaping and to provide them with the basic information they need. Investments will be made in that area, because we certainly want to make sure that we provide information to parents, to children—to everyone—with respect to the harms related to these types of products.
    Thank you.
    Mr. Davies, please, for three quick minutes.
    Thank you.
    Minister, Health Canada has not commissioned an anti-tobacco marketing campaign since its suspension of federal anti-tobacco ads in 2006, when the Harper government took office. That's not surprising to me, given the Conservatives' big defence of big tobacco, but according to spending figures from Health Canada, the health department, under your government, spent nothing on a national advertising campaign in the mass media for the federal tobacco control strategy in 2015-16. Why is that?
    Well, as I just indicated, however, there's $6.1 million that we are going to be investing in the area of public education and awareness with respect to this area. We certainly feel that it's extremely important to make sure that Canadians are aware of the harmful effects associated with vaping products and their use. We are going to be moving forward with those types of investments.
    You acknowledge that so far, from 2015 to 2018, your health department has not spent any money in mass media on a national anti-tobacco advertising campaign?
    With respect to it, we've launched our new tobacco strategy. Once again, we're certainly making strides moving forward with respect to that. We want to reach our 2035 target of having fewer than 5% of Canadians being consumers of tobacco. We're going to do all we can to ensure that we can meet that target—
    I would suggest that part of doing something would be to start to bring in national federal advertising on tobacco, to bring that back.
    I want to talk about the flavouring. I don't think you answered Mr. Albas's questions satisfactorily. I don't know if you understand that in schedule 3, the flavours are set out specifically. The question is, if there are flavours that aren't listed as prohibited on schedule 3, that leaves it open to the market to market this under other attractive flavours. That's the question, I think. What's your response to that?

  (1830)  

    Once again, with respect to the regulations and in the proposal that we've brought forward in Bill S-5, we absolutely want to make it clear that there are going to be no names of flavours that are going to be attracting children.
    You plan on supplementing in the regulations. What's in the schedule presently?
    We absolutely want to make it clear that there are no names of flavours that are going to be appealing to children.
    I guess I want to end with “lifestyle”. I'm not sure I'm clear on this. Bill S-5 does restrict the kinds of ads for vaping products that are allowed in public places, those that are reasonably attractive to either lifestyle. That's in proposed section 30.2. It places fewer restrictions on ads in adult-only venues such as bars, where lifestyle ads and purchase incentives are permitted. That's in proposed section 30.3. In Alberta, 18-year-olds are in bars—
    Can you get to the question?
    —and they're inside getting lifestyle ads on vaping. I thought you said that you don't want to promote vaping to anyone. Is that the kind of problem in this bill that you want to correct?
     Absolutely, with—
    Very quickly.
    With respect to any type of lifestyle ads, I truly don't feel....
    Like I said, I would welcome an amendment with respect to that, because I feel we certainly don't want to send that message specifically to young people, but young people, as well, who are not consumers of tobacco nor vaping products.
    Thank you very much.
    Mr. Ayoub, three minutes.

[Translation]

    Thank you, Mr. Chair.
    Minister, we have heard many witnesses, one whose evidence really struck me: it was Mr. Gaston Ostiguy, lung specialist at McGill University. As a physician, he also works a lot in smoking cessation clinics to help people quit smoking.
    When vaping products were brought up, we considered that they could help people quit smoking. However, smokers need to be assisted and informed of the way to use these products. Unlike transdermal nicotine patches, vaping is not doctor prescribed. No one prescribes it. It is a tool that is commercially available.
    What can we do to ensure that these tools benefit Canadians and are used correctly?
    I’ve also learned that the tobacco industry seemed to want to opt for other products. That is what the representatives from Benson & Hedges somehow had the nerve to say before the Committee this week.
    How can we clearly define vaping use in order to support people who wish to quit smoking and not those who take up smoking using vaping products, as is particularly the case with young people?
    The objective of our Bill is indeed to ensure that children and even people who don’t use nicotine are not attracted to these products.
    In order to give Canadians access to appropriate information, we have to make sure that it is based on science and not on industry-sponsored research. Information offered to Canadians will still need to go through the Department of Health, which will then be able to publish it and send key messages to the Canadian population.
    We really want to ensure that industry has no influence and that the information provided to Canadians is accurate and science based.
    Thank you.

[English]

     That concludes our first round.
    Thank you very much, Minister. Thank you everybody for your co-operation on the timing.
    We'll suspend for a few minutes while we collect our other panel together, and we'll start all over again.

    


    

  (1840)  

     Please come back to the table. Thanks very much.
    Our day has been turned inside out, as I'm sure yours has too, because of different things that have happened in the House. Now we have a short period here to go through a lot of questions, so I'm going to propose, when we come to questions, that our first round be five minutes. We'll just see how far we can get, but we won't have time for everyone to ask a question.
    I'm going to welcome our guests from the Canadian Vaping Association, Mr. Marc Kealey, Member and Public Affairs Counsel, and Mr. Boris Giller, Member; and from Vap Select, Sherwin Edwards, Chief Executive Director.
    I can assure you we're just beginning to learn about your business. We welcome your input and your information, and I'm sure you're going to be a big help to us in understanding a lot of what goes on.
    I'm going to invite the Canadian Vaping Association to make a 10-minute opening statement, then we'll have 10 minutes from Vap Select, and then we'll go to questions.
     Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I appreciate, through you, the members giving us an opportunity to share our perspective on this piece of legislation.
    I'm a health public policy expert, Mr. Chairman. I'm a member of the Canadian Vaping Association, and I'm its lead on government affairs. With me today is Mr. Boris Giller, who's a CVA board member and the co-owner of one of Canada's largest vape product shops, 180 Smoke.
    Together, Boris and I have expertise in the vape industry. The industry in Canada is a decade old. CVA has been the premiere advocate on behalf of the industry, its members, and those who vape. Our goal is fair legislation and regulation. Our reach goes across Canada, and our impact with government goes to all three levels.
    I want to thank your committee members, the House of Commons, and the Senate for your leadership on this. It's a tough piece of legislation. As a government, as a committee, and as regulators, you said yes to vaping in Canada, and regulated it instead of an outcome that would have forced it underground. We appreciate that. It is a viable alternative to smoking. The Canadian model as we contemplate it today—if you travel in our circles—is envied around the world, believe it or not.
    Let me further contextualize that. A few years ago, vaping in Canada was a hobby. Today it's a viable industry, increasing exponentially as vapers seek an alternative to smoking cigarettes. The number of vape product shops has grown exponentially in Canada as well, with the current numbers of almost 1,000 stores in Canada representing well over 5,000 employees, serving over a million customers, and generating hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue. At the same time, there are 100 e-liquid and hardware manufacturers representing significant pre- and post-market sales, which in turn underscores significant recurring and predictable revenues against a marketplace of those who want to vape and no longer smoke cigarettes.
    Please understand that the growth of this industry has not been the result of expensive marketing campaigns. The CVA and our member organizations are not aligned with tobacco. In fact, the growth of vaping has been a direct result of the substantial demand for vape products by millions of ex-smokers. The market will only continue to grow, not only as a viable and less harmful alternative to cigarettes, but also because of government initiatives that legislate it as a less harmful product in Canada.
    The majority of Canadian vape product shop operators, manufacturers of e-liquids, and advocates are, like many who vape, former smokers. They have chosen to vape rather than smoke cigarettes. They realize the potential of this disruptive technology as a less harmful alternative to smoking, both cigarettes and of course now cannabis.
    CVA has taken substantial risks to pursue a mission aligned with Bill S-5. Many people associated with vaping would assert a different path of perhaps fighting government on what they believe is their right to vape. However, contrary to that view, the Canadian Vaping Association believes that working with government on making this bill work is more palatable and more productive.
    We believe Canada is a role model for other countries in developing and implementing effective ways of reducing the harms of smoking. At the provincial level, smoke-free legislation has taken hold. I've been part of the smoke-free Ontario campaign from the start, 10 years ago. At the national level, Canada's tobacco reduction initiative is enviable. Through Bill S-5, we believe the Government of Canada has been responsible, implementing suitable and effective legislation that ensures adult smokers have access to products that substantially reduce the harm that cigarette smoking is known to cause, all the while recognizing that a less harmful alternative ought to be available.
    To amend the Tobacco Act and create a category for vaping is not only welcome, but also suggests that vaping is a choice over smoking and has the potential for dramatically reducing disease and death caused by smoking. CVA encourages members of this committee to review the growing body of evidence, including qualified literature, global studies, and research on vaping that modifies our views. Frankly, it ought to form the thinking of your committee when looking to draft regulations for vaping going forward.
    Over the last few years, the Canadian Vaping Association has met with several of you on the committee to encourage your support for our views and to offer advice. Let me be specific.
    Recent studies in the aggregate have shown that vaping is less harmful than smoking. The former minister herself referenced this CVA messaging when she introduced the legislation in November of 2016. On that point, we're pleased that the legislation includes a timely review, so that as science and research prove out in favour of vaping as a less harmful alternative, those findings will in fact be reflected appropriately in your regulations.

  (1845)  

     With respect to overall industry regulation, we've been working closely with qualified organizations on the development and implementation of an accreditation program at the national level.
    The patchwork of regulations from provincial legislative initiatives across Canada has confounded this industry while we wait for this milestone to occur. Bill S-5 does offer a national framework for retail and manufacturers of vape products, and we aspire to have this reflected in our national accreditation program plan.
    CVA board member Sam Tam sits with Health Canada on the Underwriters Laboratories of Canada committee to establish global standards for technology, devices, and battery safety as they pertain to vaping. Furthermore, our board president, Shaun Casey, sits on a Standards Council of Canada committee chaired by Health Canada for the establishment of ISO e-liquid manufacturing safety standards.
    An accreditation program, we believe, will provide comfort to you, as regulators, that vape products and services available to consumers are of a quality that is measured against a robust set of standards. A national accreditation program would require vape manufacturers, e-liquid and hardware manufacturers alike, as well as vape product shops, to commit to and submit to a program where a common set of standards for operations of their physical plants, policies and procedures, and other variables are measured. Any negligent behaviours or deficiencies would result in fines or perhaps remediation plans, respectively, to demonstrate compliance. We are committed to this process.
    The utmost important piece of this legislation, in our view, ought to be the value of the information and the manner in which customers receive detail by a vape product shop employee. When they make the choice to acquire or consume a vape product, they need to know what they're buying. To that end, we encourage the committee to work with us at the Canadian Vaping Association as we develop a certification program for vape product shop employees. Purveyors of vape products anywhere in Canada ought to be well trained to help customers make the logical choice to a less harmful product than cigarettes.
    We're considering qualified career colleges, not only to develop a curriculum, but to have it delivered in every province. It would be entirely helpful to make this certification program part of your intended regulations and mandatory in all provinces.
    In fact, the FDA in the United States referred to our plans for certification in Canada as a beacon to follow in the United States. It contemplates national dialogue in the United States on its own vape legislation, and it has looked to Canada, and especially what we're doing on certification, as a role model to that end. Our president, Shaun Casey, and I have testified on many occasions in the United States on this issue.
    The Canadian Vaping Association believes the goal of regulation should be to ensure that maximum benefits are realized while minimizing potential harms. We believe that sales should be restricted to those over the age of majority. We concede that restricting its use in public spaces is inevitable. We agree that certain lifestyle promotion or advertisements are not appropriate.
    The amendments we put forward on Bill S-5 to the Senate committee ensure that youth are not able to access these products, and we agree that the use and acquisition of vaping tools should be limited to public areas that minors are prohibited from entering.
    Additionally, the amendments that we originally put forward to the Senate provide adult smokers with access to assistance provided through qualified vape product shop employees, which can be crucial to the success of a smoker looking for an alternative to cigarettes.
    Vaping technology has catapulted in quality by leaps and bounds. Research, too, has debunked the myths that have permeated mainstream media about vaping, and because the technology is getting better, vaping may yet prove to be an effective breakthrough in anti-smoking.
    I welcome your questions, and thank you for your attention.

  (1850)  

    Thank you very much.
    Mr. Edwards.
     Good evening. My name is Sherwin Edwards. I want to thank you first and foremost for your time in allowing me a moment to bear witness. I am the President of Vap Select Inc. based in Mirabel, Quebec. Vap Select is a proudly owned and operated Canadian company, which was created in 2011 with the consumer in mind. We produce affordable, innovative vaping products for consumers, giving them an alternative to cigarettes. All Vap Select products are manufactured in GMP facilities and adhere to strict global certifications. To meet the growing consumer demand for these products, we recently expanded to a 6,500-square-foot facility.
    However, that is only part of the reason why I am here today. I am also the sponsor of a 10,000-plus signature petition that has been tabled in the House of Commons on Bill S-5, January 30, 2018. That petition calls on the government to halt and review Bill S-5, and to create a fair and logical category for vape products clearly setting them apart from tobacco.
    Let me start on that point. It should be obvious to anyone that vaping products and tobacco products are two completely different things and do not belong in the same piece of legislation. You don't put alcohol and soft drinks in the same legislation because you drink both of them. Therefore, you shouldn't put vaping products and cigarettes in the same category because both are inhaled.
    Vaping products like e-cigarettes are a much safer alternative to tobacco for those people unwilling or unable to quit smoking. They provide the nicotine that smokers crave without the harmful effects of combustion. That's an important point. Nicotine on its own is no more harmful than caffeine, and nicotine occurs naturally in many products that we all consume daily. It's the combustion that causes the negative health effects of smoking, not the nicotine.
    That is why esteemed medical and scientific bodies like Public Health England and the Royal College of Physicians have said that e-cigarettes are at least 95% less harmful than smoking.
    Last week, Public Health England came out with an updated report on e-cigarettes, and let me quote directly from that organization's press release on the main findings:
vaping poses only a small fraction of the risks of smoking and switching completely from smoking to vaping conveys substantial health benefits
e-cigarettes could be contributing to at least 20,000 successful new quits per year and [probably] more
e-cigarette use is associated with improved quit success rates over the last year and an accelerated drop in smoking rates across the country
many thousands of smokers incorrectly believe that vaping is as harmful as smoking; around 40% of smokers have not even tried an e-cigarette
there is much public misunderstanding about nicotine (less than 10% of adults understand that most of the harms to health from smoking are not caused by nicotine)
the use of e-cigarettes in the [United Kingdom] has plateaued over the last few years at just under 3 million
the evidence does not support the concern that e-cigarettes are a [gateway] into smoking among young people (youth smoking rates in the UK continue to decline, regular [e-cigarette] use is...almost entirely confined to those who have [previously smoked cigarettes])
    I want to pick up on the fourth and fifth points that I cited from the Public Health England report, both of which deal with public misunderstandings regarding the risks of vaping and nicotine. I put the blame for this squarely on the shoulders of governments and health groups, some of which, deliberately or not, have misled Canadians about the risks of vaping products. Those who continue to do so deserve public shaming for scaring people away from these devices, which usually means they continue smoking, which is more harmful to their health.
    I ask the committee a question. From whom would you rather get advice from vaping products such as e-cigarettes, organizations like Public Health England and the Royal College of Physicians, or high-paid lawyers lobbying for tobacco groups? For me, when I want medical advice, I go to a doctor, not a lawyer.
    You may have seen or heard that a public debate on vaping products was recently held here in Ottawa during National Non-Smoking Week. I was there. Dr. Ostiguy, who you heard from on Monday was there, as was the University of Ottawa's David Sweanor and a representative from the Tobacco Harm Reduction Association of Canada.

  (1855)  

    We had a great discussion on the value of vaping products for reducing tobacco use, but completely absent from the discussion was Health Canada, or any of those so-called health groups who are misleading the public about the risks of these products. None of the anti-vaping products groups or health advocates accepted the invitation to debate their position in public, but I see a couple of them appeared before your committee on Monday. They won't shy away from that.
    These groups know their position is indefensible, which is why they refuse to debate people like myself, or Dr. Ostiguy or Dr. Sweanor, in public. If this committee wants Canadians to stop smoking cigarettes, as does the health minister and likely all Canadian citizens, then stop listening to the moralist and public health community who are deliberately misleading Canadians about the risks of vaping products. With that in mind I have two recommendations for the committee.
    First, the vaping provisions of Bill S-5 should be stripped out entirely and Health Canada told to go back to the drawing board to come up with legislation that treats these products as completely separate from tobacco. Health Canada didn't throw marijuana, which when consumed via the combustible process actually has higher levels of tar content than cigarettes do, into the Tobacco Act, so why are you letting them put vaping products in there? Tobacco products and vaping products are completely separate, different products that require their own distinctive legislative framework.
    Second, whether in a new bill, or if Bill S-5 is passed, smokers need to be properly informed about the relative health risk of tobacco products versus vaping products. Sweden has virtually eliminated tobacco-related cancer because smokers switched to non-combustible products. The U.K., which embraced the principles of harm reduction, has also seen smoking rates and smoking-related illness drop to an all-time low, hence, also reducing the burdens and the cost on their health system overall. There's enormous public health potential if Canadian smokers are well-informed and given choices to switch as well, but they will only do so if they know about vaping products such as e-cigarettes and understand the relative risk being greatly lesser than smoking tobacco. I have serious concerns about the constraints in Bill S-5 that would prevent the vaping industry from communicating and sharing this information with smokers.
    Finally, I want to make one more point about this whole debate and particularly the anti-smoking groups who continue to spread information about e-cigarettes and suggest that there are better ways of quitting such as cold turkey, or using the patch, or the gum, or something else. The people making those claims are not smokers and, quite frankly, I would encourage them to butt out. Some smokers do succeed in quitting through some of these methods I just mentioned, but for others it is a monumental struggle, in some cases impossible. For those people and the people who want to continue to use nicotine, vaping products are a lifeline. For governments to put unnecessary restrictions on these products and restrict the ability of those offering these products is unjust, and some experts like David Sweanor from the University of Ottawa will tell you it is even unconstitutional. I am of that opinion also and so are the 10,251 Canadians from coast to coast who signed petition E-1237 tabled in the House of Commons on January 30. That is another reason why you have to hit the pause button on this bill and work to get it right. Vaping is not smoking. E-liquids are not tobacco.
    As you can probably tell I'm very passionate about this subject. I thank you for listening and I look forward to your questions.

  (1900)  

    Thank you very much. I'm just at the beginning of the learning curve on your product. I think many of us are like that, so we appreciate your contribution to this. I think we're going to have limit the first round of questions to four minutes starting with Mr. Ayoub.

[Translation]

    Thank you, Mr. Chair.
    As I have already met you in other circumstances, I will get straight to the point.
    First of all, I want to say that I am happy to see that the industry that you represent, or your association, takes part in a positive way to the development of the Bill.
    You were here when we asked questions to the Minister earlier. We're discussing Bill S-5. What concerns you when it comes to the health of young people? I didn’t hear you talk about it. You represent an industry and you mostly talk about the business side of things.
     Obviously, health is mostly a ministerial responsibility, but we must get information and educate ourselves on the measures to take to improve the health of Canadians and to convince ourselves of the effectiveness of these measures. As Mr. Chair mentioned, we’ve only just begun to collect information on that topic.
    I’ve already taken a minute for my introduction.
    Mr. Kealey, you may answer first, if you wish.

[English]

     Do you want to take that, Boris?
    Thank you very much for the question. It is a very important question.
    Obviously, at the Canadian Vaping Association, we take youth vaping very seriously, and we absolutely do not want any youth addicted to nicotine. Despite the relative reduced risk, it is still an addictive substance, so we at the Canadian Vaping Association have been taking initiatives. Prior to it becoming law, we have been distributing “19-plus” signs to our members and mandating that in our bylaws. Our membership chair has negotiated a deal with the credit card companies to mandate ID verification at the point of sale, and at this point I believe this is a very impactful initiative that is going to heavily limit young people's access to vaping products.
    That, I believe, is not enough. I do support some of the suggestions and recommendations to ban lifestyle advertisements, and a lot could be learned from the alcohol laws, because it is a dangerous addictive substance that's restricted for young people, and that problem has been tackled. One additional suggestion would be to limit the time during which such advertisements could be aired to later in the day. We do believe that a lot stronger co-operation between the government and our industry is required regarding the accreditation and certification program, in order to enforce these things and go further, even into the realm of educating young people.
    Mr. Edwards.
    If you've been following closely, you'll know that the vaping industry has done a relatively good job of self-regulating and being very responsible. We restrict sales to adults. I know that I do in my outlet, and I know that my retailers also do. I'm not there to oversee them on a regular basis, but there are guidelines put in place. We do not want to see our children get hooked on nicotine. That's for sure. I'm in agreement with, as Boris said, some of the restrictions on lifestyle advertisements. There should be certain guidelines within labelling. Speaking for my company, we have been very responsible in that area. We do not use unicorns and cartoonish types of images on our products. I wouldn't sleep well at night if I did that.
    The industry itself has done a pretty good job of self-regulating. Governance is needed. Oversight is needed, and it's welcomed, and we would like to be part of an open communication discussion with governments when regulations are going to be determined, because right now, things are scripted so broadly that nothing is clear.
    Thank you very much.
    Now we go to Ms. Gladu.
    Thank you to the witnesses.
    The first question I have is about the nicotine e-liquids.
    Mr. Edwards, I think you said that they don't come from tobacco. What's the source of the nicotine then?

  (1905)  

    The tobacco leaf is actually the plant that contains the highest content of nicotine, and therefore it's the most commercially viable for extraction, but you can also find nicotine in nightshade plants such as green peppers, tomatoes, and cauliflower. There's a variety of nightshade plants that actually carry—
    So some of the nicotine in the e-liquids is extracted from tobacco?
    The nicotine that is used in e-liquid is a tobacco, actually, for the sole reason that it is more commercially viable to extract from that particular plant, but that being said—
    That's fine. My next question has to do with the actual devices.
    This legislation leaves all the detail about the device to the regulations. I know early models had batteries, and there were some safety incidents related to that. Do you have any advice about what actually should go into those regulations in order to make sure that the products are safe for use?
    I think the nature of the industry is such that the products are developing faster than those in the cellphone industry are. In order to catch up with that, we need a mechanism that is a layer on top of regulation and legislation. That's why we bring up the accreditation program, because if it is run by industry members, we can catch those things early on. Another initiative we have been running at the CVA is Battery Safety Week, which is aimed at educating retailers and consumers, through those retailers, about the importance of battery safety.
    We believe it is crucial to add a third layer to the current protections in place.
     What amendments would you like to see specifically to S-5?
    I'll go to both of you.
     I've looked at the bill several times. It is so layered. As far as I'm concerned, there is an array of amendments I would like to see happen. There are amendments that should happen from a consumer standpoint and also from a manufacturing standpoint. If I want to answer from a manufacturing standpoint, one of them is the fact that we will be mandated to submit our private recipes to Health Canada in detail, and therefore they would become public knowledge and available through the Access to Information Act. Mr. Christie makes great cookies, but he doesn't tell you precisely what his ingredients are to get the result.
    I think your question is very interesting.
    We presented to the Senate committee. We put some amendments on the table and we're satisfied with what happened from that perspective, for the most part. We also agree that there will be some opportunity under regulation to change and to do things that we think would benefit the industry.
    However, I think that one of the things I would really like this committee to consider is this whole idea of the notion of a certification program and to make it mandatory. We are holding on to a cliff's edge with every single province. It's been a mind-numbing siege to deal with this country on this issue because we not only have to go through the provinces but we've been waiting for this to happen. If this committee were really going to be responsible—and I can sense that you are—then you would make a certification program mandatory for everybody who is in this industry. That makes it viable.
    Do you mean a certification program run by Health Canada or run by your industry?
    I wouldn't say by the industry. I think you want to have qualified career colleges to be delivering that kind of service.
    Thanks very much.
    Go ahead, Mr. Davies.
    Thank you for being with us.
    I want to try to get as much information as we can about vaping. When someone is vaping nicotine, what other chemicals or substances are being ingested besides nicotine? Are there any?
    There are four ingredients in a vape: propylene glycol, vegetable glycerin, flavours, and nicotine if they want it. When you look at that and compare that against cigarettes—I see this all the time, being compared to cigarettes—there are 1,400 chemicals in a cigarette.
    I'll stop you there, because I'm not trying to compare to anything. I'm trying to isolate purely what the products of vaping are. You've listed the ingredients, but how many chemicals are being ingested? Are you saying there are only four chemicals that are being ingested?
    Propylene glycol is generally accepted as safe. Vegetable glycerin is generally accepted—
    I'm not asking you if it's safe. I want you to list for me how many chemicals I am ingesting when I vape one of your products.

  (1910)  

    I could get specific, Mr. Davies, about the chemicals that are in a flavour. I think I know where you're going with your question, but we have been very clear that there are four ingredients in a vape versus what you would get in a cigarette. If we want to compare this to something that's less harmful, I think that we have to put that out on the table.
    Again, I don't know if you know where I'm going. I'm not suggesting that it's more or less safe. I think it's generally accepted, at least with the state of knowledge now, that vaping is a significantly safer ingestion method of nicotine. I have a very sincere and objective desire to find out what the chemicals are. That's all I'm asking.
    Is vegetable glycerin a chemical?
    Yes, it is.
    Vegetable glycerin is a chemical, and propylene glycol is. Pharmaceutical grade nicotine is the same that goes into gums, patches, and inhalers. Then there are flavourings. Flavouring is not a single ingredient, but rather a category. Those are food flavourings and there could be a plethora. Somebody could put one strawberry flavour extract to produce the desired effect and somebody else could put a mixture of 12. It really varies.
    Thanks.
    In terms of flavours, you've probably sat through the last testimony. I think we're trying to get a handle on what the best way is to regulate flavours. If I understand correctly, this act schedules the flavours. There's some concern that by scheduling a limited number of flavours, we'll be chasing the industry as it keeps coming up with more and more flavours, then having to add them or not.
    In terms of giving guidance to your industy so that you know what you can produce and what you can't, do you have any comment or thoughts on what would be an effective regulatory approach to flavouring, to make sure we're not marketing to children?
     Absolutely, and I believe that the ministry has struck a perfect balance in this piece of regulation, banning the marketing of flavours while leaving the ingredients alone. We think that names like bubble gum and cotton candy should not be allowed. Even licorice should be renamed something else, like anise.
    While flavours may be attractive to children, they're necessary for adult smokers in order to transition. One hundred per cent of my customers are adults and the vast majority of them prefer flavours. The experience needs to be incrementally more pleasant and more convenient than smoking in order for ex-smokers to gravitate towards it as an alternative to smoking.
    I want to get your views on the promotion advertising. You probably heard this dichotomy: quite tight restrictions on advertising and promotion in places frequented by children but not in places that adults frequent. I'm going to use the example of the bar because we're talking about adults—18-year-olds and 19-year-olds and 20-year-olds populate our bars and nightclubs. Do you agree with the tenor of this committee that we should not be allowing lifestyle-oriented promotion and advertising directed at people in bars? This tries to get people who don't smoke to try ingesting nicotine through vaping, as opposed to using vaping for a smoking cessation product.
    Absolutely. Neither children nor non-smokers should be targeted by advertising. Lifestyle advertising should be restricted. The locations at which the ads are placed should be taken into account. If it's a billboard, it should have to be located at a minimum distance from schools.
    Dr. Eyolfson, you're up.
    Thank you, Mr. Chair.
    Mr. Edwards, you made a comment that I thought was very good. You said that in regard to what's safe we should be asking doctors rather than lawyers. Being a doctor, I might be a little biased, but on that I would agree. First of all, you said—and I've heard this said before—that vaping is 95% less harmful than smoking. Where does that number come from? Does it come from a medical journal? Does it come from any peer-reviewed scientific research?
    From what I understand, it's peer-reviewed scientific research done in 2016 by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, and they state that vaping is likely at least 95% less harmful or toxic than smoking a cigarette. Recently, on February 6, Public Health England did a review on the success and progress of their liberal, open-minded approach to vaping and harm reduction in their country.

  (1915)  

     If you could provide those references for us, that would be useful.
    You talked about how this shouldn't be in the same bill as smoking. You said it's nothing like smoking and we should take vaping completely out of this legislation and put it somewhere else. The Canadian Medical Association Journal did two separate studies. One finds that among young people who try it for the first time the rate of vaping is slightly higher than the rate for cigarette smoking. Another one, from October 2017, is a large study showing that those who start vaping are significantly more likely to move on to smoking tobacco. In other words, young people are using it at the same or higher rates than tobacco, and they're much more likely to go to tobacco after they start vaping. How does this fit with your assertion that vaping has no part in this legislation?
    First of all, vaping has not been legislated yet in Canada. The U.K. has 10 years on us, and we should be looking to the United Kingdom and their program template, which has proven to be successful. You stated your report was from October 2016, if I'm not mistaken.
    It was from 2017.
    Well, we just had a new review by Public Health England in a country that has actually applied the vaping regulations in a liberal and open-minded approach, and the evidence does not support the concern that e-cigarettes are a gateway to smoking among young people.
     I understand that, but since we're drafting laws in Canada, should we not be relying on the evidence that is collected in Canada?
    If I may, you might be referring to a study by the author David Hammond, from the University of Waterloo.
    Yes.
    Contrary to the headlines that were published, his own conclusion is that there is a correlation but not a causation. They cannot prove a causation. His leading hypothesis is that a kid who tries stuff, tries stuff. All the data to date shows a displacement of smoking by vaping, rather than a gateway effect.
    The largest longitudinal study of 60,000 participants in England has shown a reverse effect. It completely dispelled that myth.
    All right, thank you.
    Again, would there not be confounding factors between two the countries? They are not the same society at all. Are there not ideologically confounding variables?
    There are similarities. We do have additional information from the University of Victoria supporting that hypothesis, and I would be happy to follow up with a written submission to that effect.
    There are public health clinicians, like yourself, who support the theory that vaping is orders of magnitude safer. They may not put a percentage to it but say it's orders of magnitude safer.
    All right, thank you very much.
    The time's up.
    Now team, we have a few minutes. We have about 12 or 13 minutes left.
    I have one very short piece of committee business. Do you want to end now or do you want to ask another quick round of, say, three-minute questions?
    We can end now.
    Some hon. members: Agreed.
    Well, that's good.
    Thank you very much to our guests. You've been very helpful, and you're helping us learn a lot.
    A voice: Do you want to go in camera?
    The Chair: There's no reason to go in camera. I'm going to turn the mike over to our clerk, who had a question she wanted to ask.
    Yes, just quickly, after consultation with the legislative council and legislative clerks concerning the deadline for amendments to Bill S-5—I know we talked about this already, so I apologize for bringing this back to the table—the legislative teams needs some time to put the amendments package together before distributing it to all members of the committee and in order for the committee to have enough time to look over the package.
    In order to do that, what the legislative clerks are proposing is that the deadline for amendments be on Tuesday, the 27th, at noon. That gives them time to put the package together and distribute it to all members by the end of day on the 27th so that members will have most of the day to review the amendments package on the 28th before we go to clause by clause.

  (1920)  

    On Tuesday, the 27th?
    Yes, at noon.
    Before the budget comes down.
    It's perfect timing.
    I'm fine with that, I just wanted to ask a question about the supplementary estimates since you mentioned the budget. Will we be able invite the minister to come and talk about those by the deadline?
    We can invite, and we'll see what happens.
    I would move that we invite the minister to discuss the supplementary estimates.
    Given the timing, with the number of allotted days that have already passed, pretty much the latest we could study the estimates before they are due back to the House would be March 19.
    Is there any debate on the motion to invite the minister?
    All in favour? All opposed?
    (Motion agreed to)
    My apologies again, I have one last note on the deadline for amendments.
    Given that this committee adopted a motion in May of 2016 to give a 48-hour deadline for independent members to submit an amendment before the clause-by-clause deadline, if we allow the committee members to have a shorter deadline, on the 27th, at noon, it does appear to be unfair to independent members.
    I would suggest that the committee adopt a motion that all members of the House have the same deadline to submit amendments to Bill S-5, which would be on February 27, at noon.
    Is that okay?
    Ms. Marilyn Gladu: Yes.
    The Chair: My schedule shows that our next meeting is on February 26, at 12 noon. That's a pharmacare meeting. Does everybody agree with that?
    We meet again for the second time that day at 3:30 p.m. That should be our last double-duty day, and that's for more on our study of Bill S-5. At noon we have pharmacare. Then, at 3:30 p.m., we have Bill S-5, and then on Wednesday the 28th, we do clause by clause for Bill S-5.
    Thank you very much, Madam Vice-Chair, for doing that, because that all happened when I wasn't here.
     No problem. I did the best job I could, and they were all very co-operative.
    I have one question. I was really happy the health minister decided to add some meetings with us. I saw the schedule come out with the food guide stakeholders, so we need to schedule those at some point.
    Yes. It's on our radar, but we don't have the schedule. We will do that when we reconvene.
    Mr. Edwards and others have made reference to the report issued by Public Health England just last week. There was a request to get a copy of it. I have that, if you would like it, and if you would like to distribute that to all the members of the committee.
    Thank you very much.
    May I ask, is that translated? Is that bilingual?
    Not yet.
    Can we translate it?
    This is Public Health England.
    That's very helpful. Thanks very much.
    The budget...?
    I'm sorry. I didn't realize you had copies of the budget. We can do the budget then.
    The last item is, I need approval for the budget for Bill S-5. You all have a copy of it.
    I move to approve the budget.
    (Motion agreed to)
     Thank you very much.
    Have a happy Valentine's Day and a happy constituency week.
    The meeting is adjourned.
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