An Act to amend the Tobacco Act and the Non-smokers’ Health Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts

This bill was last introduced in the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session, which ended in September 2019.

Status

This bill has received Royal Assent and is now law.

Summary

This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

Part 1 of this enactment amends the Tobacco Act. In order to respond to the report of the House of Commons’ Standing Committee on Health entitled Vaping: Toward a Regulatory Framework for E-Cigarettes, it amends the Act to regulate the manufacture, sale, labelling and promotion of vaping products and changes the title of the Act accordingly. It also amends certain provisions of the Act relating to tobacco products, including with respect to product standards, disclosure of product information, product sale, sending and delivery and product promotion. The schedule to the Act is amended to add menthol and cloves as prohibited additives in all tobacco products. As well, it adds new provisions to the Act, including in respect of inspection and seizure.

Part 1 also makes consequential amendments to the Food and Drugs Act and the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act.

Part 2 of this enactment amends the Non-smokers’ Health Act to regulate the use of vaping products in the federal workplace and on certain modes of transportation.

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Tobacco and Vaping Products ActGovernment Orders

April 27th, 2018 / 10:05 a.m.
See context

Scarborough Southwest Ontario

Liberal

Bill Blair LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada and to the Minister of Health

Madam Speaker, I am proud to rise today in support of Bill S-5, an act to amend the Tobacco Act and the Non-smokers’ Health Act and to make consequential amendments to other acts.

Over many months, this legislation has been reviewed, amended, and enhanced. Canadians have weighed in on the proposed approach. Our stakeholders have shared their feedback, and both the Senate and the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health have conducted detailed reviews.

Today, I am pleased to rise in the House to share the results of all of that excellent work.

I will begin my remarks by reminding the House of why this important legislation is necessary. Next, I will describe how Bill S-5 has been strengthened to better protect youth, particularly since its review by the Standing Committee on Health. Finally, I will talk about what comes next.

Let us begin with why we need the legislation.

Canada has made outstanding progress over the past 30 years in reducing smoking rates. Our success speaks to the effectiveness of a strong regulatory approach. Nevertheless, tobacco-related illness continues to kill 45,000 Canadians every year. That is one person every 12 minutes. These statistics are alarming and unacceptable. That is why our government is working to reduce tobacco use in Canada, from 15% in 2015 to less than 5% by 2035.

As we work toward this goal, we need to recognize that tobacco use in Canada is changing. The tobacco market today is very different from what it was 30 years ago. Vaping products have changed the landscape and are becoming increasingly popular. From a public health perspective, this poses both challenges and opportunities.

Bill S-5 strikes the right balance between protecting Canadians and recognizing the potential benefits of vaping as an alternative to smoking. It also addresses an important need, by establishing a new legislative framework for the regulation of vaping products.

The bill is a key element of the government's new vision for addressing tobacco use, which includes taking action to ban menthol in tobacco products, implementing plain and standardized packaging requirements for tobacco products, and modernizing Canada's approach to driving down tobacco use.

Budget 2018 has made additional investments of $80.5 million to support this strategy. Between these new funds and our existing efforts, the Government of Canada plans to invest close to $300 million over the next five years with the goal of helping Canadians who have an addiction to tobacco, and protecting the health of young people and non-smokers.

We know that money alone is not the answer. We need to ensure that our approach is based on evidence. We need to listen to the experts and learn from what they tell us. That is why, since its introduction, Bill S-5 has been studied so extensively.

From the public consultation process to strong committee review, our government has heard from a wide range of stakeholders on the bill. This includes public health experts, industry representatives, consumer advocates, and academics, and their valuable feedback has informed the amendments to BillS-5.

In particular, I would like to express my very sincere thanks to the Standing Committee on Health and all of its members for its careful review of the bill. Most notably, the committee made amendments to prohibit lifestyle advertising for vaping products. This means that all lifestyle advertising, anything that associates a product with a way of life that includes glamour, recreation, and excitement will be prohibited. This will better protect our youth and non-tobacco users from being enticed into using vaping products, which could lead to the use of tobacco products and to the renormalization of smoking behaviours.

In addition, the bill was amended to provide regulatory authority to require information, such as health warnings, to be displayed on individual tobacco products, including on individual cigarettes. This amendment will align the approach for vaping and tobacco products. It may also be used to improve consumer awareness of the health hazards and health effects associated with the use of these products.

Protecting youth has been a key concern to stakeholders throughout the consultation process. It was a guiding principle as we drafted the legislation. In particular, many stakeholders have told us they worry about how vaping products could affect young people, and we share their concern.

Experts agree that vaping is harmful but less harmful than smoking. Although I have heard from Canadians who tell us that vaping has helped them quit smoking, their role in smoking cessation has yet to be substantiated. Thus we must be cautious. We must ensure that the availability and prevalence of vaping products do not lead young people and non-smokers to start smoking and to develop nicotine addictions.

That is why, upon royal assent, Bill S-5 will make vaping products legally available only to Canadians over the age of 18. This includes prohibiting vending machine sales and putting measures in place that require retailers to ensure that products purchased online are delivered only to adults.

The bill also includes measures that will ensure vaping products are not glamourized to appeal to young people through slick marketing promotion efforts. For example, there has been a great deal of discussion about how certain flavours could potentially make vaping products more appealing to young people.

We recognize that some of those smokers prefer flavoured vaping products, but we must also acknowledge that these flavours can draw youth to vaping, something we wish to avoid. For this reason, Bill S-5 would restrict the marketing and promotion of vaping product flavours that could appeal to youth, such as candy.

We have already taken significant action on this front by expanding the ban on menthol to cover 95% of all tobacco products. Bill S-5 would take further action by banning the use of menthol and clove in all tobacco products. These measures would help protect Canadians, particularly Canadian youth, from serious long-term health effects of nicotine and tobacco use.

Bill S-5 would also advance our goal of implementing plain and standardized packaging for tobacco products. Thanks to increasingly restrictive measures put in place by governments in Canada, the tobacco industry has few options left to advertise and promote its products to recruit new users. Packaging is one of the last remaining channels for the promotion of tobacco products to youth. That is why this is being addressed.

Research has shown that promotion through tobacco packages and products is particularly effective with adolescents and young adults. Colourful packaging that includes logos, textures, and brand images can have an enormous influence on young people at a time in their lives when they are establishing brand loyalty and smoking behaviour. Research has also shown that plain and standardized packaging reduces the appeal of tobacco products, particularly among youth.

This is why countries all around the world, including Australia, the United Kingdom, and more than 20 others, are either considering or have introduced requirements for plain and standardized packaging for tobacco products. I think we can all agree that tobacco companies should not be able to use packaging to make a harmful product appealing. Bill S-5 would put that principle into action.

As I have outlined today, the bill has been studied extensively. It has been shaped by expert opinion and reviewed by all our colleagues, both in the House and in the other place. As a result, Bill S-5 is before us today as well-researched and balanced legislation, and is part of a comprehensive new vision for addressing tobacco use.

Bill S-5 would meet the needs of a wide range of Canadians by addressing today's tobacco market. It would protect young Canadians from the risks of tobacco, while at the same time allowing adults to legally access vaping products as a less harmful alternative to smoking. It would also support our government's efforts to implement plain and standardized packaging of tobacco products.

If passed, Bill S-5 will position us to protect our youth, reduce tobacco use, and ultimately save lives. With Bill S-5 in place, Canada can once again be a world leader in tobacco control and preserve the health of Canadians for many years to come.

Tobacco and Vaping Products ActGovernment Orders

April 27th, 2018 / 10:15 a.m.
See context

Liberal

Bill Blair Liberal Scarborough Southwest, ON

Madam Speaker, I share the member's concern about the effects of tobacco use on the long-term health of our kids. That is why this bill is a very strong step forward. It would enable us to restrict access to it by young people. As I mentioned in my earlier remarks, the government is also making significant investments in research and treatment to ensure that we achieve this not only through regulation but through significant investments in those kids and their health.

We also recognize that there are many social determinants of tobacco use in our society, and we see those social determinants not only through Bill S-5 but through the entire government agenda. We are attempting to address social conditions such as unemployment, poverty, and lack of access to adequate services, which have in many communities resulted in increased tobacco use. Through regulation, we are ensuring that tobacco products are not appealing to young people, but at the same time, we are making other significant investments to change the circumstances in which the choice to use tobacco products is made by our kids.

Tobacco and Vaping Products ActGovernment Orders

April 27th, 2018 / 10:20 a.m.
See context

Conservative

Marilyn Gladu Conservative Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak today on Bill S-5 regarding plain packaging and vaping.

Canada has come a long way in terms of smoking cessation. Over the last number of years, half a century or so, the smoking rate has been reduced from about 50% to 13%, and the Conservative Party has been a great part of that. During the time we were in government, we definitely promoted many plans and programs that promoted the cessation of smoking. In fact, at one point, we focused specifically on youth, because there was a concern that youth smoking rates were rising again. We were able to reduce those rates from 33% to less than 20%. I think we need to continue to march along and figure out how to reduce smoking among young people and, of course, all Canadians.

One of the things I find a little hypocritical about the government is that in the budget, the Liberals introduced $80 million to stop people from smoking but $800 million to get them to start smoking marijuana. I think that is a total misalignment, in terms of health outcomes, that we would want to look at.

In terms of studying the bill, it was actually quite an education for me. We got to see all kinds of little products. There is a lot of new technology that has been developed. I did not bring any of it today, of course, because we do not allow props, but to let members know, there is a myriad of new technologies coming forward.

There is something called the HeatSticks, which are little tobacco sticks that are not combusted. The sticks are put in a device that heats them so that there are fewer harmful products. It is for harm reduction, in terms of health.

We learned about vaping and vaping devices. There are many different kinds of devices. Some have evolved over time. There was a concern at one point about batteries exploding in certain devices.

We need to make sure that something is done with the vaping industry, because today the vaping industry is totally unregulated. In fact, it is illegal. We have a lot of stores that have sprung up all over the place, but there is no governance or oversight to prevent them from selling these devices to young people or from selling marijuana at the same time. Definitely we need to see this industry regulated, so I am happy to see that regulations would be brought in with Bill S-5.

Quite a number of studies were presented to us by the Canadian Cancer Society. It is one of many health organizations that support this proposed legislation. I believe that 362 health organizations have come forward in support of this proposed legislation.

Of the 150 studies that have been done, there are eight countries that have been looking to implement plain packaging, and they have seen a reduction in the number of people smoking.

In terms of trying to make the bill better, we brought a whole bunch of amendments, but not a single one was accepted by the government. Therefore, I will spend a little time telling members about the amendments we tried to bring so they understand why I am disappointed that they were not received well.

First, if we look to Europe and the U.K., there is an additive called diacetyl, which is used for flavour. It gives a buttery flavour. It was found in the popcorn industry to cause something they dubbed “popcorn lung”. It is a very serious respiratory issue. This additive has been banned. It is prohibited in both the U.K. and Europe, and we felt that we should learn from their experience. They have been looking into the vaping side of things for 10 years now. We brought an amendment to prohibit that additive here, which, of course, was rejected. I cannot imagine for what reason.

Another issue we brought forward was something we heard from those in the tobacco industry. The tobacco industry is obviously going to eventually go out of business as people stop smoking, and there will be some job losses. However, more importantly, the plain packaging that was recommended as the solution is the old sleeve packaging we used to have. Those machines that manufactured that old packaging were all sold, in some cases to the people who are providing the contraband today. In terms of ordering new equipment, that equipment is obsolete.

There is not a good enough timeline in the proposed legislation, which calls for it to go into effect right away. There is not enough time for these people to purchase new equipment and get it established to comply with the proposed regulations.

For that reason, we brought an amendment that would extend the time of implementation by 12 months in order to allow time for businesses to come onside and comply with the legislation. That, of course, was also not accepted.

We also were interested in making sure that people know about the harm reduction information that is available. There have been studies within the tobacco industry on the new technologies that the industry is bringing forward. In the U.K. there was a study on vaping that showed there was a 95% reduction in harm. It is important for people who are smokers to be able to get hold of the information that there is less harm in some of these products and that they can be an avenue for them to stop smoking, but the bill would not allow anybody except Health Canada or the Minister of Health to provide harm reduction information. We thought that doctors and folks involved in smoking cessation clinics should be able to pass on this information, so we brought amendments on that as well, which were, of course, rejected.

Another thing we wanted to address was the issue of contraband. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health indicated that it was not a problem in Australia, but we should point out that Australia does not grow tobacco. It has to import all of it. In Canada, we grow tobacco in quite a number of places, and the contraband problem that we have currently is quite severe. Thirty or forty per cent is the estimate across the country, and in some places like Ontario, 60% of the cigarettes are contraband. Contraband brings along with it organized crime and activities that we do not want. We are worried that implementing plain packaging would make it easier for people to produce contraband cigarettes, so we were looking at ways and technologies that could be used to mark the cigarettes or mark the cases to make sure that people are not able to counterfeit them.

Counterfeiters are very good at what they do, and we always have to keep ahead of the technology. We heard witnesses tell us that producers of contraband are even able to get hold of the CRA stamps that are put on government packages, or to copy them in some way. That was another amendment that we would have liked to see to make sure that those contraband protection technologies were implemented, but of course that was also not accepted.

In looking at all the different technologies, we wanted to make sure that the bill covered everything. Marijuana and marijuana-consuming devices were not really covered in the marijuana legislation, and in this legislation we did not cover marijuana at all, so there is a gap there. We should have made it much clearer as to whether we want people to vape marijuana. To my mind, that is still an outstanding question.

Overall, the bill itself had a lot to it. Many people came before us. The convenience store owners were really concerned. Today they do not participate in the vaping industry and they want a chance to participate, but they feel they may not be able to do that because of the way they are regulated. They have a good record in terms of making sure that young people are not buying cigarettes, so they already have a good protocol in place for doing that, whereas the existing vaping stores do not have that. We certainly want to make sure that the convenience store owners have the opportunity to participate and take advantage of all of this.

Some of the most interesting testimony that we heard was about how people are using vaping products. I mentioned that people are using them to get off smoking, but some other interesting ideas were also brought forward. I heard people talk about how those who are morbidly obese or diabetic and have cravings for sugar are actually licking cherry-flavoured or pie-flavoured vaping products to control their cravings for sugar and lose weight. That was fairly interesting as well.

When I look into the bill and the amendments that we brought, I feel that overall this bill would result in reduced smoking rates in Canada. I think it would do that. Over a 10-year period, Australia saw a 3% reduction in the smoking rate. It is not a huge thing and probably not the only thing, but it is important.

One of the things that concerns me about with vaping was testimony that 30% of young people have tried vaping, and of the 30% who tried vaping, 50% are likely to start smoking. That is why it is so critical in this legislation to make sure that we are not advertising vaping to children under 18 and that we have good controls in place to make sure that children under 18 are not getting hold of vaping devices, because if they do, they are likely to start smoking, and then we are back to the problem that the Conservative government previously addressed in terms of reducing smoking by young people.

Although I am very disappointed that the excellent recommendations brought forward in amendments from the Conservative Party were not accepted, I feel that the bill overall will reduce harm to Canadians, and the vaping industry will be regulated. Therefore, we will be supporting this legislation.

Tobacco and Vaping Products ActGovernment Orders

April 27th, 2018 / 10:35 a.m.
See context

Conservative

Marilyn Gladu Conservative Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Madam Speaker, we did not spend a lot of time talking about contraband marijuana during the Bill S-5 discussion. We talked mainly about the huge problem that we have today with contraband cigarettes.

It is no secret that many of the contraband cigarettes are produced at reserves across the country. It is an enforcement issue, because the reserves have the right to produce cigarettes; the problem is that other people are coming to the reserve and purchasing them. From an enforcement point of view, one has to either arrest everyone as they come out of the smoke shop or not do anything. If there has not been a successful solution on contraband cigarettes, then I doubt that we are going to see any successful solution elsewhere.

Contraband marijuana will be a significant problem. When we were doing the cannabis legislation, indigenous people testified that they will want the right to produce and distribute marijuana, so we may run into the same situation there. If there are no good solutions and none are found on smoking, then I do not think we are going to be successful in the marijuana area either.

Tobacco and Vaping Products ActGovernment Orders

April 27th, 2018 / 10:40 a.m.
See context

NDP

Brigitte Sansoucy NDP Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Madam Speaker, the NDP does not think this bill is perfect, but we are going to support it at third reading. It is important to remember that the purpose of this bill is to create a new legislative framework for regulating vaping products and to implement plain and standardized packaging. We have long called for effective, concrete anti-tobacco measures to discourage young people from starting to smoke. The NDP is clearly a leader on this front. We have long called for plain packaging and a regulatory framework for vaping products.

In 2009, the former health critic, the member for Winnipeg North, introduced a bill to close loopholes in the Tobacco Act by tightening requirements for the labelling, packaging, and sale of flavoured tobacco products. In the last election campaign, we promised to introduce anti-smoking measures, increase funding for anti-smoking strategies, implement plain packaging, and ban all flavoured tobaccos. We also talked about the need to initiate a federal review to strengthen Canada's tobacco control legislation and the associated strategy, which expires in 2018.

It is clear that our demands were heard because it is now illegal to use flavourings and additives in tobacco products. It is important to reiterate that smoking is the leading cause of disease and premature death in Canada. The annual health care cost per smoker in Canada is over $3,000, which adds up to $17 billion a year. If passed, this bill could save money by reducing smoking rates in Canada, savings that would benefit the provinces and territories. There is no doubt that tobacco causes serious illnesses and a number of problems that can lead to death. One Canadian dies from a tobacco-related illness every 14 minutes. That is unacceptable. This is why we are supporting this bill and urging the other parties to do the same, in spite of everything.

Anti-smoking groups rightly point out that the longer we wait to pass a bill like this one, the more people will start to smoke and the more people will die from the consequences of tobacco use. Although there are regulations in place, it is difficult to restrict access to e-cigarettes. There is no evidence as of yet indicating that e-cigarettes encourage young people and non-smokers to start consuming nicotine. However, we still lack information on these and other vaping products, since they are new to the market. These products and their different flavours may seem enticing, especially to young people. If this bill is passed, the ban on tobacco sales to persons under the age of 18 will also be extended to vaping products, and it will also be illegal to promote vaping products. In addition, it will be illegal to use tobacco brands or information-based advertising to market vaping products to young people. Labels on these products must carry warnings regarding their nicotine content and the health problems they can cause. These measures are less restrictive than those applied to tobacco, since these products are considered less harmful for now.

Of course, some amendments could have been proposed. One of the downsides to this bill is the fact that vaping product manufacturers will be able to promote their products everywhere, which is bound to attract young teens. When bringing in regulations at the federal level, it is always important to consider provincial and territorial regulations. We have to bear that in mind every time we consider a federal bill.

Vaping products may help reduce tobacco consumption, but it is important to remember that using them does not break the smoking habit. Maison Alcôve, a well-known addiction treatment centre in Saint-Hyacinthe-Bagot, made it clear that the only way a smoker will stop smoking is by breaking those habits, those daily rituals. Smoking an e-cigarette is still smoking. Using vaping products to reduce tobacco consumption has limitations we need to consider.

If this bill passes, manufacturers would be required to submit to Health Canada information on sales and the ingredients in the vaping products, to ensure follow-up.

The 2015 report on vaping released by the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health, which did an excellent job, made 14 recommendations, including one to create a legislative framework for vaping products. This bill follows up on these recommendations.

This bill also contains other provisions. Indeed, the Non-smokers' Health Act, which seeks to protect those in federally regulated workplaces, will be amended to ensure that vaping products are subject to the same prohibitions as tobacco products.

Bill S-5 harmonizes compliance and enforcement authorities with those found in other modern statutes, including the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act. These authorities would apply to both vaping and tobacco products. This would allow inspectors to use telewarrants and enter private property in carrying out an inspection, while accompanied by any person qualified to conduct the inspection. They could also require manufacturers to keep records, and stop or move any means of transportation for the purpose of inspection.

I want to emphasize the fact that disadvantaged and marginalized populations are the easiest targets and, unfortunately, they tend to consume more tobacco than the general population. They are more likely to suffer from tobacco-related illnesses. For example, 40% of first nations people smoke, and 37% of people who are divorced or separated smoke. We can no longer allow these groups to be targeted. The end goal is to reduce the gap in health status between general and disadvantaged populations caused by serious tobacco-related diseases.

Youth are also affected by this. We know that young people usually start smoking during adolescence. They are an easy target because they are easily influenced and find the packaging appealing. This bill will make it possible to minimize tobacco use and nicotine addiction among young people. As a result, it will also reduce the percentage of smokers.

Passing this bill would be a step forward in reducing tobacco use and would improve the health of Canadians. We really need regulations and measures like the ones set out in Bill S-5 to successfully reduce tobacco use. However, we also need to make young people aware that they can choose not to use tobacco. We need to get them to think about what they are taking into their bodies and make sure that they know how to say no.

Parents also need to be educated about this, so that they stop trivializing smoking and realize that smoking is dangerous. An organization in my riding called Satellite and one in Acton Vale called Horizon Soleil are tyring to educate younger kids about these issues beginning in elementary school. Education will have a stronger impact and must go hand in hand with passing Bill S-5 in order to effectively reduce the number of smokers in Canada.

I have discussed this bill with some of the stakeholder organizations in my riding, including the ones I just mentioned, Satellite, Horizon Soleil in Acton Vale, and Maison l'Alcôve, which start educating children in elementary school, as well as their teachers and parents, about the harmful effects of using tobacco and the importance of not using it in the teen years, and especially not in elementary school.

We really need to have a strict law, because young people are drawn to these products, with their colourful packaging and different flavours. We need to make sure that they never start smoking. We all know people in our lives who want to stop using tobacco. We know how hard it is. We need to focus on prevention so that they do not start using tobacco.

As I was saying in my speech, I have spoken with stakeholders and the director of Maison l'Alcôve, a very reputable addiction prevention centre in my riding. Every day they encounter people who are trying to quit smoking. They were saying how hard it is to address this problem because that involves breaking daily habits.

It is important to acknowledge the work of national organizations in support of our legislative amendments to this bill. These organizations, including many medical and anti-smoking organizations, asked us to go even further.

Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada, the Canadian Medical Association, the Canadian Public Health Association, and the Association pour la santé publique du Québec, are some of the organizations that come to mind. Since I am from Quebec, I would point out the Coalition québécoise pour le contrôle du tabac, which does exemplary work on smoking prevention and awareness.

As I was saying earlier in my speech, we have to ensure that people do not ever start smoking. Of course we can work on helping them quit smoking, but I think that at the federal level our main job is to raise awareness. We have to do enough on raising awareness to ensure that smoking for the first time triggers an alarm in a person's mind and prevents them from starting in the first place. It is important. These organizations help us understand the balance between the need to protect non-smokers and the need to provide smokers with help to quit smoking.

For a long time, about a decade, the NDP put pressure on the Conservative government. It is now pressuring the Liberal government with bills. My colleague from Vancouver Kingsway has done excellent work with the Standing Committee on Health and strives to raise the government's awareness at every meeting. My colleague also works with all the organizations I named. As parliamentarians, it is important to listen to stakeholders. As critic, I am in touch with people on the front lines. Every day, they see the effects of decisions we make here. It is so important to listen to those stakeholders and their recommendations. They are eagerly awaiting this bill. We have to listen to them. These people work with tobacco users and educate people so they do not start smoking. That is what they do every day, and they say this bill is important. That is why it is so important for us to pass it.

The NDP supports this bill. We know it is not perfect and needs improvement, but it is a first step. We will keep pressing the government to do more. We will keep asking for more funding for prevention.

I worked in the health sector for decades, and spent some time working in prevention. In health care, 95% of funds are allocated to curative care. A lot of money is allocated to treatment, and the remaining 5% is allocated to prevention. These groups are telling us to invest more in prevention.

I have four children. With my youngest, I was introduced to energy cubes. Pierre Lavoie teaches us that we would have far fewer people in the hospital if we took care of our health every day, if we ate properly and did physical exercise. Smoking prevention is one of the healthy living habits that we need to instill in kids from a young age.

I think that our role at the federal level is to allocate enough funds to promote prevention and healthy living. Anti-smoking measures are part of these healthy living habits that we must instill in children from a young age. At the federal level, we must allocate enough funds to ensure that discussions on health also address prevention, the importance of taking action before problems arise.

What often happens is that we react to problems, but in supporting this bill, I think we are taking an important step in combatting tobacco use.

An Act to amend the Tobacco Act and the Non-smokers’ Health Act and to make consequential amendments to other ActsGovernment Orders

April 27th, 2018 / 12:10 p.m.
See context

NDP

Brigitte Sansoucy NDP Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Madam Speaker, to conclude my speech I will recap what I said before question period.

In a bill like Bill S-5, it is important to strike a balance between protecting non-smokers and helping smokers to quit smoking. It is important to develop prevention tools and invest in preventing people from smoking in the first place. If a person starts smoking, then one day they will want to quit, and we know how hard that can be. We have to invest in prevention to ensure that we have everything we need to make people aware of the risks of using tobacco.

I also mentioned the importance of targeting groups that are more likely to smoke. Again, 40% of first nations people smoke, as do 37% of people who are divorced or separated. Young people are also a target group. Often people start smoking when they are teenagers. I would add that troubled youth are particularly targeted. What is more, people with mental health issues, whether it be a minor depression or a more serious problem, represent 20% of the Canadian public who will be affected at some point, and some statistics point to an even higher rate.

Therefore, it is important to focus on these groups and to help the organizations that support these people in particular. We should help organizations such as Satellite, in Saint-Hyacinthe, and Horizon Soleil, in Acton Vale, which work on prevention with elementary school children, their parents, and teachers so that they know how to handle a situation where they might start consuming. Earlier, I spoke about Maison l'Alcôve, a well-regarded organization that does excellent work when it comes to treating all addictions. It treats its clients in the enchanting surroundings of an old monastery, which is ideal for treating addictions.

I am also thinking of several organizations that are affected. I was the long-time director of a community housing organization, Auberge du coeur Le Baluchon. We provided housing for troubled youth, and most of them were users and also smokers. They were only allowed to smoke outside the house, and so the balcony became their meeting place. This organization's mission is not to help prevent smoking, but that is still a concern.

I am also thinking of all the mental health organizations. I worked for the Contact Richelieu-Yamaska crisis centre, where most of the people with mental health issues were also smokers. Then there is MADH, Maison alternative de développement humain, and Centre psychosocial Richelieu-Yamaska, which do the same kind of work.

As the federal government we are responsible for providing the funding to promote healthy living to Canadians. Whether we are talking about nutrition or physical exercise, a healthy lifestyle can help prevent people from smoking, which is the purpose of Bill S-5.

An Act to amend the Tobacco Act and the Non-smokers’ Health Act and to make consequential amendments to other ActsGovernment Orders

April 27th, 2018 / 12:20 p.m.
See context

NDP

Brigitte Sansoucy NDP Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question. I spent a couple of decades working closely with high schools in my region, so I know how important it is to support prevention programs in our schools. In my riding, Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, an organization called Jeunes en santé is doing amazing work in youth health promotion. It is helping schools and organizations teach healthy life habits. Unfortunately, funding for organizations like Jeunes en santé tends to be precarious. We have to support organizations that work on the front lines.

My colleague mentioned stakeholders. Stakeholders played a major role in drafting Bill S-5, which will soon become law; they indicated what kind of amendments were needed. They were the ones who insisted that social media advertising targeting young people should be prohibited. The federal government must ensure that our laws protect people who are targeted and who are more likely to start using tobacco. We have to listen to front-line stakeholders. In my speech, I mentioned organizations such as the Coalition québécoise pour le contrôle du tabac, Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada, the Canadian Medical Association, and the Canadian Public Health Association. Every one of those organizations is prepared to show us the way and tell us what needs to be done.

An Act to amend the Tobacco Act and the Non-smokers’ Health Act and to make consequential amendments to other ActsGovernment Orders

April 27th, 2018 / 12:25 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Darrell Samson Liberal Sackville—Preston—Chezzetcook, NS

Madam Speaker, I am always very happy to stand in the House to represent the people of my riding of Sackville—Preston—Chezzetcook. I describe the riding as a half-circle around the two big cities of Halifax and Dartmouth.

The riding has a very large population of veterans and military members. I am extremely proud to represent those individuals. Those veterans and military members make up 23% of the population, which is the highest in Nova Scotia. Nova Scotia has the highest number of veterans and military members per capita in the country. Members can well understand why I am very proud to represent those individuals.

There is also a very large number of seniors in the riding. When I visit the various seniors groups, the work they do is quite impressive. Not only do they do all kinds of great things when it comes to volunteering, but they also have all kinds of events and activities taking place daily in their communities to support seniors. That is important.

There are fishing communities, like Eastern Passage. There are urban and rural communities. There is a good mix in my riding. I always want to underline those key issues and concerns.

I am pleased to speak to Bill S-5, a very important bill that came through the Senate. The bill would amend the Tobacco Act and the Non-smokers’ Health Act and to make consequential amendments to other acts.

It is important to note that we have done some really good work on prevention when it comes to tobacco. In the last number of years, we have seen a decrease in the numbers of smokers in Canada, from 22% to 13%. That is because of the various strategies we have used, including the markings and packaging, which I will talk about as well. However, we need to go further.

When we start to talk about vaping products, I have to be honest I do not have a lot of experience in this area. I have asked myself questions on many occasions, when driving or walking down the street and I see people using these vaping products. I have asked myself if these products include nicotine or tobacco. Sometimes I smell an odour like when someone is smoking a pipe. This allowed me to a little research to learn more about this product.

This bill focuses on two major areas. The first is a new framework for unregulated products. As I have said, the product is out there, but there are no regulation on it. We need to put some regulations on that.

The other aspect of the bill that I want to speak to is the plain packaging, because that is crucial. I believe we are heading in the right direction. When I hear “plain packaging”, I think about branding. So many things in the country and in the world if branded and marketed the right way will influence people to purchase it or try it.

Branding is so important. I think about James Curleigh who spoke last week about Levi's and the main strategies used to brand a product and make people want to purchase and use that product. That is why plain packaging is crucial. We have to take away the influence branding has. That is extremely important.

I believe we are the 10th country looking at changing branding and moving to plain packaging.

When we say “plain packaging”, the colour is gone, which is good. It is not as attractive. Perhaps the shape has changed and that may stop people from purchasing and using the product. It is not as flashy, but we can still put the necessary warnings on the packaging to show the other products it may contain.

The consultation that took place on the bill allowed 58,000 Canadians to speak about packaging, how they felt about plain packaging, and if they believed this was what we should be doing. A large majority of people supported it. I am extremely happy about that. I just shared with the members what branding and marketing could do. Therefore, if we take that away, we reverse the table on it, and we then head in the right direction. However, the consultation was crucial.

The next step is to put a committee together to work on setting the rules and regulations. Once that is set, then we will go back out and consult again. It is important to ensure we are in partnership as we move forward on this important bill.

I will now touch on vaping products. Again, my experience is limited in this area, but vaping has been going on for eight or nine years. As members know, once a new product comes online and the industry gets involved, it will continue to find ways to make the product more attractive, different, and we will see all kinds of versions out there.

This is where we need to ensure we are regulating, and there are two areas we will look at to to this. The product could fall under the Food and Drugs Act, which would mean for therapeutic use only. If it does not meet the therapeutic criteria, it would automatically fall under the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act. Therefore, we have two areas where it could be regulated.

The objective here is to ensure that young people do not have access to this product. We will set the limit at 18 years. The other reason we want to act on this vaping product is that adults already use e-cigarettes. I agree that information is still unclear and we do not have all the scientific evidence, but some facts clearly show that this product is much less harmful than cigarettes themselves. As a result, this strategy to establish regulations may allow people who smoke to use this product, and then to eliminate this type of product entirely. This is another strategy.

The other thing we need to really look at is the whole issue of public health. We know how much money we spend on health. Provincial governments and the federal government spend a lot of money on health. There are waiting lists for our hospitals. This is very important. If this can help reduce the pressure on our public health system, we should consider it as another success.

Let us look at some of the key provisions in the bill. The first, as I mentioned, is the age limit of 18 years or older, which is an important factor.

The second one is what we call machine dispensers. We have come a long way with machine dispensers. I do not remember, but some people who are older than I am have told me that they existed for beer at one time, way back when. We could get beer the same way we get pop. That was available. Then we had them for cigarettes, of course, but we will make sure that they are not permitted for vaping products as well. We are starting in a much further area or space than we did with other products that were also very damaging.

Other provisions have to do with mailing and delivery if people order online. We know that ordering online is a big thing now. I know my kids order a lot of things online. It has become another method for people to purchase products without having to wander around in malls and spend their day in different shops.

That is one way of purchasing a product, but when products are sent and delivered, it will be crucial to ensure that the person who is receiving the product at the delivery point is older than 18 years. Therefore, when people are purchasing, they may have to have a Visa in their name. I do not have all of the specifics, but when it is being delivered to the homes of people, we must make sure that the person who is receiving the product is over 18 years old. That is crucial.

Another restriction is with respect to promotion. When it is being promoted, companies would be able to use some promotion strategies because the risk is less. However, there are some limitations in that area as well that are crucial.

Another area that is also important is prohibiting flavours that are attractive to kids, such as candy flavours, and I would like to share something that speaks to that. While we do not propose to limit the flavouring ingredients that may be added, we do not want to see those flavours identified or promoted as things that are appealing to kids. It will not be permissible to offer e-juice, cotton candy, popcorn, candy cane, or other flavours that appeal to kids.

As we can see, those are some of the strategies that the industry could come forward with that could cause great problems.

With respect to the second category and the Consumer Product Safety Act, of course vaping products that do not have therapeutic claims would fall under this category and all of the regulations that come with it for tobacco, etc. It will also require the industry, if there are any malfunctions, fires, or explosions associated with the product itself, to report them to Health Canada so that Health Canada can also recall the product.

As members can see, we are definitely heading in the right direction. This is much better than what was out there, because there were no controls. These regulations will help us.

In conclusion, together these measures will help protect the health and safety of all Canadians, including the people who choose to use vaping products.

Bill S-5 is a critical piece of our government's tobacco control agenda and will help address one of the most challenging and enduring public health problems. Bill S-5 strikes a balance between the harms of vapour products that may entice youth and others to develop a narcotic addiction and the potential public health benefits that could arise from reducing tobacco-related deaths and diseases.

I urge all colleagues in this House to support the bill at second reading and to move it quickly to committee.

An Act to amend the Tobacco Act and the Non-smokers’ Health Act and to make consequential amendments to other ActsGovernment Orders

April 27th, 2018 / 12:50 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Erin O'Toole Conservative Durham, ON

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Bill S-5, a bill first introduced in the Senate.

I am good friends with my friend from Sackville—Preston—Chezzetcook. My wife's family lives in Fall River.

I did note, with interest, one of his responses, in which he said that the government was an evidence-based government and that it made decisions based on evidence. It appears that does not apply to the cannabis bill. Its rush to legalize, to keep the Prime Minister's very ill-conceived promise, has been contrary to evidence provided by the Canadian Medical Association, pediatricians, and so forth.

My speech will be based entirely on evidence. That needs to be brought here. I would also like to speak for a moment on how members of Parliament do their jobs, both in their constituency and in Ottawa. We do not talk about it enough. We know that Ottawa is full of government relations representatives, lobbyists, consultants, communications people, and we hear from people and groups on bills and legislation, which is important. We have to be informed. In many cases, we will call them to committee as well to give expert evidence and testimony.

I want to thank a constituent in my riding who brought very thoughtful and informed advocacy to me on Bill S-5. His name is Craig Farrow. He is a store owner in Bowmanville, and has been an owner of a store that sells vaping products. That is one of the elements contained in Bill S-5. Craig met with me and gave a very detailed presentation on how, when it came to smoking cessation, vaping products had helped up to a million Canadians leave smoking. In fact, in Craig's own experience of guiding and informing people in Bowmanville, he told me that in the five years his store had been open, he had helped 4,000 people transition from smoking to that e-cigarette or that vaping product.

Why this is important is that studies have shown, including a number of them in the United Kingdom, that vaping, and the nicotine included in the vaping fumes, is 95% less harmful than the tobacco delivery of nicotine. When we talk about the bill, we have to recognize there are some smoking cessation benefits to some of the products that will be regulated under Bill S-5. I want to thank Craig Farrow and store owners like him across the country who met with MPs, whether in Ottawa or in their ridings, and made the case that they should not be included.

The challenge is that they are included in Bill S-5. What I would have preferred to see was a separate bill on measures to prevent smoking, because I think we all support that. I would have preferred the marijuana and cannabis discussion to be a little more fulsome in Ottawa. Then, vaping, which is totally different, but worthy of regulation and attention, should have been treated differently. However, they are not.

I will speak about why I and my Conservative colleagues support Bill S-5. We are disappointed the government has tried to bring a lot of things in with it. It is a bill that amends the Tobacco Act, the Non-Smokers Health Act, and consequential amendments. It is kind of another example of a Liberal-promoted omnibus bill.

There are good elements in the bill that evidence has shown has led people to stop smoking. We have known for decades now that smoking can have numerous health impacts, including cancer. That is why governments, since 1980s, have tried to make measures to curb smoking, particularly with young people.

Bill S-5 has, as its centerpiece, the plain packaging issue, when it comes to tobacco sales, promotion, and advertising. Plain packaging measures have shown a marked increase, in jurisdictions that have adopted it, to prevent people from smoking.

We can look at the jurisdictions, which I looked did, of Australia, the United Kingdom, and New Zealand, our closest allies, I am well known for advocating working even closer with those allies under a program called CANZUK. Those countries have already implemented plain packaging and have had tremendous results.

The post-implementation review in Australia of its plain packaging legislation has estimated already, within the span of 18 months to two years, that almost 110,000 people have stopped smoking as a result that legislative measure.

In the United Kingdom, David Cameron's Conservative government brought forward similar legislation. It is estimated that this plain packaging move will take 300,000 people away from smoking, reducing the health impacts, the cost to society, and the toll on families.

In New Zealand, John Key's government also brought in similar legislation.

Therefore, with this part of Bill S-5, we are very in line with what our closest friends and allies have done. Unlike the Liberals who talk about evidence-based decision-making, I am trying to review the benefits that some of our friends have already had. We can review their evidence, especially the post-implementation review in Australia, to show this will have a benefit. Even though there are a lot of things in Bill S-5, plain packaging is the centrepiece.

I would also like to mention why the Conservatives support Bill S-5, despite its omnibus nature.

Since the government of Brian Mulroney in 1988, and the tobacco products act it brought in with Bill C-51 at the time, there has been a non-partisan approach to smoking cessation legislation in the House. I am glad, despite some of the issues and despite the Liberals voting down our worthwhile amendments at committee, that we are still advocating and supporting them on this. We see the benefit, much like governments since 1988 saw with the legislation from the Brian Mulroney Progressive Conservative government. Subsequent changes were made by Liberal governments. Now we are trying to bring that same non-partisan approach to a public health issue on how we can get more young people to stop smoking or not get into it at all.

I would also like to thank the great advocacy work of physicians of the Heart and Stroke Foundation and a number of other great groups that have been at the forefront of some of these smoking cessation pieces of legislation. As I said at the outset of my remarks, we are trying to be non-partisan here, but I am very partisan. I would like to see the same approach in listening to physicians, health care professionals, and families in many cases to stop the rush with respect to some of the measures on the Prime Minister's pledge on marijuana. I guess I can hold out hope that showing all-party support on a bill like this perhaps will have the Liberals revisit their approach to public health policy.

The final part in my speech goes back Craig Farrow, store keepers, and e-cigarette or vaping shop owners who have concerns about Bill S-5. There needs to be regulation in that space as well.

Before coming to Parliament, I was a lawyer for Procter & Gamble. At times, I was a toothbrush lawyer. In fact, some of its electric toothbrushes were medical devices, so they were already regulated. Therefore, the vaporizers that heat up the liquid and produce the vape are medical devices. It is a class II medical device. To be eligible for sale in Canada, a part of that industry are already being regulated. They need a device licence and an establishment licence for the facility that creates the vaporizing product. Why? Because these items Canadians use on their body or in their body. Therefore, we have to have faith that they are properly regulated, that they are safe and fit for use. That is why there is already regulation. I would like to see the same regulation applied to the sale, promotion, and labelling of products involved in vaping.

Certainly, when I met with Craig and a lot of the owners, they already do not list products with candy-sounding names and things like that. However, it is important for us to have regulation in place to ensure that it is consistent and to ensure there is not an outlier that would allow children to be enticed into it. While, studies show that it is better for people and can be an aid in getting people off smoking tobacco, there are health impacts, and people deserve to know that. It is also a $27 billion industry globally now, and it is growing. Therefore, it is appropriate for the Government of Canada to regulate it.

As I said at the outset, I would have preferred separate legislation as opposed to an omnibus-type bill approach here, but nonetheless the smoking cessation measures within the bill are positive.

I think the vaping industry will also take positives from the bill. Vaporizing in general will be used already by cannabis manufacturers. They are already getting their device licences approved for the delivery of a vaporized cannabis once the Prime Minister's cannabis regime is in place. What the vaping stores can look to is that in the future not just ingredients like nicotine can be part of devices. There is the potential, with proper regulation, for some types of over-the-counter or low level health benefit products to be part of delivery by vaporizer. If we bring regulation certainty to this area of public health, it will actually help Craig and his industry in the future.

It has been my pleasure to speak for a few minutes on this and to once again show that responsible shop owners and industry associations, by bringing their issues forward, are helping make public debate better. They are helping us improve legislation. They are also improving our overall awareness of the risks, but also the positives, when it comes to smoking cessation, of new products like e-cigarettes and those sorts of things.

Parliament is meant to talk about the good and about the bad. In areas where we can get young people off smoking, it is important to have all-party support like we have had with Bill S-5.

An Act to amend the Tobacco Act and the Non-smokers’ Health Act and to make consequential amendments to other ActsGovernment Orders

April 27th, 2018 / 1 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Erin O'Toole Conservative Durham, ON

Madam Speaker, on a Friday afternoon, as we are winding down a week, the humour of the member for Fleetwood—Port Kells did not bristle; it was welcomed. I was a very proud toothbrush lawyer, toothpaste lawyer, and a whole bunch of things when I was with P&G.

The best thing we can do is to give the public information and education about the products they use. The Conservatives generally agree that the individual, particularly once they are an adult, can make choices and can make choices responsibly, but they have to do this by having the proper information.

When it comes to the issue of vaping, having certain ingredients listed, certain claims about any positive health benefit or any positive benefit of stopping smoking, those claims need to be substantiated by science and reviewed if they are a health type of claim.

When it comes to tobacco, the health and science is clear, and has been clear for two generations now. Bill S-5's thrust is the plain packaging. While there are a number of other issues in there, which we have all spoken about today, the evidence is clear. For countries that have adopted plain packaging, it has had an added impact.

Under the Conservative government, Canadians hit an all-time low in overall levels of smoking in Canada, but the bill has elements in it that can get that number even lower. People who choose to smoke, whether regularly or occasionally, have to be informed so they know the choices and they can make informed decisions on their own.

An Act to amend the Tobacco Act and the Non-smokers’ Health Act and to make consequential amendments to other ActsGovernment Orders

April 27th, 2018 / 1:05 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Erin O'Toole Conservative Durham, ON

Madam Speaker, the member for South Okanagan—West Kootenay certainly seems to be well informed on this issue and may have personal knowledge of issues or concerns. What I would suggest to him is that Canada already has that regime. We have the Competition Bureau and the Competition Act, which regulate misleading advertising. This was actually my area of specialty when I was a lawyer. I reviewed advertising claims, from online to television. If advertising has any health-related aspect, there needs to be substantiation behind it. There needs to be science. Certain health claims are also regulated and have to be pre-screened by Advertising Standards Canada before they go on television.

If any Canadians have concerns about a claim being made that they think is misleading and is enticing people to make a purchase or maybe even try something out, they can bring that issue to the Competition Bureau. We have that regime in place.

What Bill S-5 would allow is a much more orderly process when it comes to packaging and to the promotion of the liquids involved in an emerging vaping industry. As I said, we need public health education and regulation. We can also recognize that these products are less harmful than tobacco products, but Canadians need to know that they might be 99% less harmful, but there are potential risks involved.

I think the public information and regulation in the bill is fair. I would have liked a separate bill, because this is a new and emerging device, but at the very least, Canadians can be assured that there would be more effective regulation as a result of Bill S-5.

HealthCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

March 20th, 2018 / 10:05 a.m.
See context

Liberal

Bill Casey Liberal Cumberland—Colchester, NS

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 13th report of the Standing Committee on Health, in relation to Bill S-5, an act to amend the Tobacco Act and the Non-smokers’ Health Act and to make consequential amendments to other acts.

In tabling this, I want to thank all the members of the committee and all the people who made presentations to the committee to help us understand the impacts of smoking and vaping. We learned that every 14 minutes someone in Canada dies of a nicotine-related illness, and that every day 100,000 young people start to smoke. This bill would help to discourage that trend. Again, I want to thank the committee and all those who participated.

The committee amended this bill, and I think we made it better. The report was passed unanimously by all parties. In the end, I am confident that this legislation will have an immediate impact and make Canadians healthier and safer.

Tobacco and Vaping Products ActGovernment Orders

January 30th, 2018 / 10:15 a.m.
See context

Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, it is with pleasure that I rise to address what I would argue is a very important health issue for all Canadians.

It is estimated that every 14 minutes a Canadian dies from a tobacco-related illness, which is approximately 37,000 Canadians every year. Therefore, it is no surprise that this is an issue the government wants to move forward on. That is what this legislation is all about. It is about protecting the health and well-being of Canadians.

This is not a new issue. Many of us are from a generation that can recall the problems nicotine and smoking have caused over the years. I was a health critic for a number of years in the Province of Manitoba. One of the greatest expenditures in our health care system is related to tobacco or cigarette smoking, second-hand smoke, and so forth. Literally hundreds of millions of dollars are spent every year on smoking-related illnesses in our health care system. One could argue that this is part of the economic or social cost, which is that much greater.

Through time, we have seen a great deal of changes. I recall that, when I was going through school, smoking was perceived as a cool thing to be doing. It was very much encouraged. We can recall watching television programs where often the actors and actresses were smoking cigarettes. At the time, it was perceived as an okay thing to do.

As years went on, we found out that not only was it not overly cool to smoke, but the science became clear with respect to the cost of smoking, the health cost in particular. Unfortunately that science came out far too late. A high percentage of our young people and adults were already engaged in smoking at a substantial cost to society.

Fast-forward from the days I went school to the time when my daughter and son attended school. There were more educational programs in place. There were student bodies leading the educational fight to discourage individuals, particularly young people, from smoking.

Canada at one time was on the leading edge in terms of providing necessary legislation, promotional material, and education for student bodies that highlighted the negatives of tobacco. There was a push on issues such as cigarette packaging and how to ensure the proper communication was out there to say it was not healthy to smoke. The government and Canadians as a whole really started to recognize that.

When I was younger there was always smoke in the air at my house. I was breathing in secondhand smoke every day. Today, many individuals will exit their house and go outside if they smoke because they understand the value of having clean air in their homes.

Through municipal, provincial, and national governments, and so many other stakeholders, we have seen changes over time of great benefit to non-smokers and ultimately even smokers as they have become more educated. Not that long ago, people were critical of putting a tax on tobacco. They said the government was raising taxes again by increasing the tax on cigarettes. They did not realize that the cost with respect to the consequences of smoking was much more than there ever was in terms of the revenue generated from cigarettes. It is in the government's best interests to see less people engaged in smoking and that has been well established for decades.

When we look at the legislation we are debating today, much like yesterday, when there was a great deal of support on an issue that was important for Canadians, this too is a very important issue that all Canadians are concerned about. It is an issue that all parties inside the chamber are sympathetic toward, and that is the issue of addiction and the cost to society that nicotine has had over the years and continues to have today. In other words, there is so much room for improvement and I believe that all members, no matter what side of the House they sit on, recognize that we can do more. This legislation is a positive piece of legislation.

Our government is committed to working with many different stakeholders to make a difference. When we talk about stakeholders, we are talking about the different levels of government, including Canada's indigenous people, as they work alongside the national government to look for ways to improve our situation overall.

In fact, there was a national consultation done just last year in which there was a report that was provided and targets were set. We talk about wanting to see an ongoing decrease in dependency on nicotine, or in the smoking of cigarettes. I believe the target was set at a 5% reduction over the next couple of decades. I think that is an applaudable approach and I would encourage others to get engaged in terms of establishing and supporting that particular target.

As it has been pointed out, the government has a very important role. In particular, I want to highlight the provinces. I made reference to when I was the health critic at the provincial level. The provinces, in many different ways, participate at a grassroots level in terms of the regulations and the legislation that they have put in place. I will be getting into the issue of vapour shortly. Many provinces have already introduced and brought forward legislation dealing with vapour. It is important for us to recognize the need for national standards, understanding, and better promoting those standards throughout the country, and also for developing a long-term policy that will make a positive and profound difference for all Canadians.

We look at it in terms of the government supporting different initiatives and working with, for example, our first nations and Inuit communities in the development and implementation of tobacco-controlled products that are socially and culturally appropriate. This is something that the government has already done.

However, today it is all about Bill S-5, which amends the Tobacco Act to regulate vaping products as a separate class of products. As such, the Tobacco Act would be renamed the “tobacco and vaping products act” and would include provisions to protect youth from nicotine addiction and tobacco use.

The new federal regime would regulate the manufacture, sale, labelling, and promotion of vaping products. It would include provisions to restrict sales to youth and to restrict the promotion of certain enticing flavours such as candy that may be used to get more young people to engage in vaping. The inclusion of provisions to restrict sales to youth and restrict promotion of certain flavours will have a positive impact. It will also enable the government to put in place regulatory measures to reduce the health and safety risks related to vaping products by requiring, for example, child-resistant packaging to help protect children from nicotine poisoning.

The issue of cigarette packaging is once again dealt with in this legislation. We know that there are some countries that have gotten ahead of Canada in terms of taking a proactive approach to dealing with this type of packaging. One of the countries that I think we need to look to is Australia. Even though we have seen other countries' approaches, such as the United Kingdom, Ireland, and France, Australia has somewhat led the way in terms of the generic packaging or standardized packaging that has been brought forward.

Within this legislation we see that we have a government that is committed to looking at the types of things Australia is doing in regard to that standardized packaging. Once again, it is ultimately meant to discourage individuals from being brought into smoking in the first place.

We know there is a high percentage of 18-year-olds and young adults who begin smoking at a much younger age and dealing with the packaging issue would assist us in preventing some young people from smoking cigarettes.

The Tobacco Act would allow for requirements to be set out in regulations in this regard. Following the passage of these legislative amendments, regulations specifying requirements such as the permitted colour, font, and even font size on tobacco packages and products, and restrictions on the use of logos, graphics, and promotional information would need to also be developed. That is a major part of Bill S-5. It would enable the government to develop the regulations, which would bring us closer to what other countries are doing. It is the will of the Minister of Health to protect the interests of young people.

As for vaping, the key message that needs to be emphasized is that while scientific knowledge is still evolving on the issue, there is much more work to be done. There will be many more reports on the subject. It is clear that vaping products may bring public health benefits, if they reduce tobacco-related death and disease by helping smokers quit or switch completely to a less harmful source of nicotine, but it may also harm young people, in particular. That concerns me greatly.

I want, as much as possible, legislation that takes a proactive approach to the health of young people, the health of all Canadians but, in particular, on this issue, the well-being of young people. I believe there is a misconception today about vaping. People think vaping is a healthy thing to do and in certain circumstances, I suspect it is healthy, but there needs to be so much more research done on this. Until we see that additional research done so that we better understand both the good and bad of vaping, if we are going to err, I would rather err on the side of caution for better health.

A concern, for example, that I have is that many young people have led the fight in discouraging youth from cigarette smoking. To what degree is there an educational component for young people today about vaping? We know nicotine is being used in vaping and there is an addictive side to that. I would argue that we do not have enough information on the number of young people who may take up vaping, as an example, which would ultimately cause them to give up vaping and smoke cigarettes instead. There is a real risk of that and I have not seen information that clearly demonstrates that is not the case. That is why it is important for us to recognize the vaping industry, which is a growing industry. It is relatively new. The last 10 to 15 years is when it became quite popular in society. Now, with the many flavours offered and the imagery projected on the issue, it is a lure for many individuals, smokers and non-smokers alike, who look at it almost as a lifestyle issue.

I am not convinced that it is positive. In fact, I have grave concerns. That is why it is good that what we are doing in the legislation is bringing vaping under the tobacco legislation. I would like hear the different perspectives on that issue from members opposite.

Vaping has grown in popularity with the introduction of e-cigarettes. It is important that we recognize that vaping is an act of inhaling and exhaling an aerosol, which is often referred to as vapour. This is produced by what is most commonly known as an e-cigarette, but there are many similar types of devices used for vaping. They do not produce tobacco smoke. Rather, it is an aerosol, often mistaken for water vapour, that actually consists of fine particles, and it is those fine particles we need to be concerned about. They can contain varying amounts of toxic chemicals that have been linked to many negative health effects.

Generally speaking, when we think of vaping, it is done with a device with a mouthpiece. There is a battery component, which often causes issues we should be concerned about. There is a cartridge containing the e-liquid, or the juice, and a heating component for the device, which is powered by the battery. That is the makeup of something used for vaping.

There has been a great deal of concern, and harm has been caused. There is a growing body of evidence indicating that the chemicals in these products may be dangerous. There are many health advocates who are recommending caution and are calling for additional research on the potential risks versus benefits. Most e-cigarettes contain nicotine, the same drug found in cigarettes.

There was an NBC report that highlighted issues related to the nicotine and the cigarette aerosol causing bodily harm. A recent study conducted by the UNC School of Medicine highlighted that particular problem. The flavouring can target the very young.

I appreciate the opportunity to share my thoughts and concerns.

Tobacco and Vaping Products ActGovernment Orders

January 30th, 2018 / 10:40 a.m.
See context

Liberal

John Oliver Liberal Oakville, ON

Madam Speaker, 115,000 people a year become daily smokers. About 82% of them start smoking at or before the age of 18, so about 100,000 Canadians each year begin to become addicted to nicotine. That is a big challenge for us. Whether they ingest the nicotine by smoking or by vaping, and smoking is clearly the worse of those two by a margin, nicotine itself, particularly when people are addicted to it and having increasing quantities, is an unhealthy substance to be ingesting.

I thought it would be helpful if my hon. colleague would again remind the House what the steps are in Bill S-5 that would regulate vaping and reduce the attraction of this particular way of ingesting nicotine for our young Canadians.

Tobacco and Vaping Products ActGovernment Orders

January 30th, 2018 / 10:40 a.m.
See context

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Madam Speaker, my colleague is right about the severity. I started my speech by saying that every 14 minutes a Canadian dies from a nicotine-related issue. The purpose of Bill S-5 is to regulate vaping products as a separate class of products. As such, the Tobacco Act would be renamed the tobacco and vaping products act. It would take the issue of vaping and put it into the Tobacco Act.

Even though vaping has been around in a significant way for the last 10 to 15 years, we have a government that is working with the different stakeholders and bringing forward legislation, among other things, to try to make a difference. This legislation would ultimately make a positive difference, and that is something we all want to see happen: fewer young people engaging in cigarette smoking and the population as a whole being better educated as to what the health risks are with respect to vaping.

Tobacco and Vaping Products ActGovernment Orders

January 30th, 2018 / 10:45 a.m.
See context

Conservative

Luc Berthold Conservative Mégantic—L'Érable, QC

Madam Speaker, let me begin by extending my sincere thanks to the member for Sarnia—Lambton, our shadow minister of health, for her excellent work in this area, particularly with respect to Bill S-5, and also regarding many other issues I deal with in the agriculture portfolio, including Canada's Food Guide.

We are here today to discuss Bill S-5, which regulates the vaping industry, a fast-growing industry. We are seeing more and more of these shops popping up in our municipalities and people coming out of them in a huge cloud of vapour. Vaping, which is very different from cigarette smoking, can be seen from quite a distance. We can even spot people vaping while driving their car and see the huge cloud of vapour that comes out. This is a fast-growing industry, and I think it will continue to grow over the next few years. Unfortunately, this industry is still not regulated.

The bill also provides for plain packaging in the tobacco industry. I will come back to this point a little later in my speech.

Bill S-5 deals with a very serious issue, one that is a very hot topic, given that the decisions we make here in the House will have an impact not only on us today, but also on all future generations.

Let us look back into the past. Had they been aware of all the health risks posed by tobacco, would the legislators in those days have made the same decisions? Would they have wanted to use tobacco as a source of revenue for the government? Would they have condoned the widespread use of tobacco in our society?

It is important to understand that the scientific knowledge back then was not what it is today. Legislators made decisions based on the information they had available to them. The tobacco industry today is in a downward slide, but it grew exponentially for years. Tobacco was a cash cow for many private corporations and for all levels of government that taxed tobacco.

Today, we have the responsibility of regulating electronic cigarettes. Do we have all the information we need to make the right decision, not just for the short term but also for the long term?

Let us come back to the situation and tobacco use, nicotine, and the costs of tobacco use in Canada.

Health Canada's Tobacco Control Directorate recently released a report, reviewed and commented by the Conference Board of Canada in 2017, summarizing the costs of tobacco use in Canada. The figures are from 2012. We know that tobacco is one of the leading causes of preventable morbidity and mortality worldwide. According to the WHO, the World Health Organization, tobacco kills more than five million people annually.

The report entitled “The Costs of Tobacco Use in Canada, 2012” provided an overview on mortality and costs in Canada, the provinces, and the territories based on 2012 data. An estimated 45,464 deaths were attributable to cigarette smoking in Canada, with about half of those deaths occurring among those 75 and older, and more than three-quarters among those 65 and older. This included 26,610 deaths among men and 18,000 deaths among women, or nearly 60% of deaths attributable to smoking among men.

This cause of mortality accounts for 18.4% of all deaths in Canada every year, or nearly one in five deaths in 2012. In other words, 125 people die every day in Canada from smoking. This surpasses the total number of deaths from motor vehicle collisions, other external causes of accidental injury, intentional self-harm, and assault.

In 2012, nearly 600,000 potential years of life were lost as a result of cigarette smoking, from causes such as tumours, cardiovascular diseases, and respiratory diseases. In other words, even if smokers do not die, there is still an impact. There are costs for society, because we must treat the individuals suffering from tobacco-related diseases.

These diseases cost our society $16.2 billion every year. Indirect costs represent more than half of that amount, while direct costs account for the rest. Health care costs obviously account for the largest part of the direct cost of cigarette smoking.

I could go on for quite a while about the costs. I think everyone agrees that when Canada authorized tobacco use, we had no idea that it would cost our society so much. There are significant human costs, financial costs that affect our society as a whole, and costs for smokers and non-smokers. Essentially, it costs every single one of us.

Everyone has their own history with tobacco. We all have a personal history with smoking. We might be smokers or former smokers. We may have never smoked. We may hate smokers. Someone in our family may have smoked so we were exposed to second-hand smoke. Maybe no one in our family smoked and we cannot tolerate cigarette smoke at all. Everyone has their own personal history.

I would like to talk about mine. I began smoking at age 15. Why? I was not really interested in smoking, but I wanted to be cool. Some of my friends smoked. There were also some nice young women I knew who smoked. I had to start smoking to be part of that group, so I did. I smoked half a pack of cigarettes in one evening. Of course, I was sick, but impressing those young women who were smoking was more important to me, so I continued to smoke. I smoked for several years. In the end, I was smoking two packs of cigarettes a day before I even turned 23. It is unbelievable. That is my personal experience, but how many young Canadians share that history? It is our history.

Tobacco causes addiction. Depending on the circumstances, some people are more likely than others to get addicted. I have to admit that I probably fall into that category myself. When it gets to the point where you have to smoke in the shower because you got up late, you know you have a problem. That is what it was like for me. None of this ever made me stop smoking.

What was the turning point for me? One day, my father, who was in his forties, went to the hospital with a sore throat. Sadly, it turned out to be throat cancer. For the next eight months, I stayed at my father's side as he dealt with the consequences of smoking. It ended badly. At the end of those eight months, my father passed away.

When did I decide to stop smoking? The day my father went in for his first throat cancer operation. That day, I made a pact with myself that I would never smoke another cigarette. I never wanted to be like my father and struggle with smoking-related illness. Cancer is the disease that affects most smokers. I have not smoked a single cigarette since that day, not even when my father passed away. To honour his memory, I decided to continue to abstain from smoking.

That is my story. I am sure many Canadians have similar cancer-related stories to tell, stories involving loved ones who have suffered as a result of smoking.

Last year, I lost a second family member. On December 24, my father-in-law died of lung cancer. Once again, he was a heavy smoker, just like my father. It is sad, but at the same time, it is also ironic. Even at the very end, smokers often ask to go outside to smoke one last cigarette, even though that is what is killing them. They know this, but at the end of the road, they still ask if they can please go out for a smoke.

That is what smoking does to us. That is what nicotine does to us. Is there anything positive about it? Not really.

Some will say that smoking relaxes them and makes them feel more social, but if that crutch were not there, if it did not exist, it would likely be something else. Who knows whether it would be any better or any worse. All I know is that smoking killed my father and my father-in-law, just as it kills 125 Canadians a day. We have to remember that. We have to think about that when the time comes to make a decision on vaping.

Today, as parliamentarians, we have an opportunity to express our views on regulations for the vaping industry. The regulations set out in Bill S-5 are not about prohibiting vaping. The bill is about regulating the industry. Are we going far enough? Do we have sufficient information? That is what I would like to discuss over the next few minutes.

In light of what I just said, it is obvious that I am a staunch anti-smoking activist. I am a peaceful activist. I will not attack my friends or colleagues who smoke a cigarette or vape from time to time. On the contrary, I have nothing against them. Society gave them access to tobacco. It is the tobacco that has them hooked on smoking. It is the nicotine in the cigarettes that ensures today that my colleagues and friends who smoke cannot stop. I have nothing against smokers, but I do have a problem with all those who profit from tobacco, especially tobacco companies, as well as, I have to admit, the different levels of government that collect taxes on tobacco year after year. These taxes do help our society function, but at what cost? What is the human cost today? That is what we must ask ourselves.

That brings me to vaping. I like how the Montreal Children's Hospital at the McGill University Health Centre describes vaping. It is important that we talk about it. I have a teenager at home so I have heard about vaping, but when I talk to people around me many of them seem intrigued by these e-cigarette machines. The question on the Montreal Children's Hospital website is: “How does ‘vaping’ e-cigarettes differ from smoking traditional cigarettes?” This is how the hospital responds:

A: You don’t have to look very far to see that the use of e-cigarettes—a practice known as vaping—is on the rise. Many people see e-cigarettes as a safe alternative to smoking regular cigarettes. So how do the two practices differ? And how are they the same?

Unlike regular cigarettes, e-cigarettes do not have tobacco. E-cigarettes are battery powered devices that have a heating element and a cartridge that contains liquid. [By the way, that liquid leaks and is very sticky. That is my take on it as the critic]. Puffing on the device heats the liquid, which produces vapour. Compare this to regular cigarettes where puffing burns the tobacco and produces smoke—the big danger for the cigarette smoker and everyone around them—not to mention the tar and carbon monoxide that the smoker inhales.

The e-cigarette might seem harmless by comparison but taking a closer look at what’s in the liquid raises other concerns. Like regular cigarettes, many e-liquids contain nicotine, even though nicotine for e-cigarettes is not officially approved in Canada. The liquids often contain other ingredients too, such as propylene glycol (PG), a popular food additive. They also come in hundreds of flavours such as strawberry, root beer and chai tea, which make them very tempting to children and teenagers.

The production and sale of e-liquids is not yet closely monitored in Canada, which means they may not always contain the ingredients and proportions listed on the label. What’s more, the e-cigarette industry is still so young that there’s no data on the long-term effects of inhaling e-liquids.

I would like to close with another excerpt from that answer. It reads:

Public health officials are now speaking out about the dangers of making smoking acceptable again, a trend that could potentially roll back decades of work achieved by anti-smoking campaigns. E-cigarettes should never be viewed as a better way to start smoking. Pediatric specialists all agree that whether it’s e-cigarettes or regular cigarettes, children, teens and adults should never take up smoking under any circumstance.

I think we all agree on that.

Are e-cigarettes a solution? What role should e-cigarettes play? Studies are just beginning to cast light on this. According to the latest study, which the media have picked up, vaping increases the risk of cancer and heart disease. Preliminary findings from a laboratory study involving mice and human cells indicate that smoking e-cigarettes can increase the risk of certain cancers and heart disease. The study was conducted by researchers at the New York University School of Medicine and was published this week in the proceedings of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences. Here is an excerpt from the report:

Although e-cigarette smoke has fewer carcinogens than tobacco smoke, e-cigarette smokers might have a higher risk of developing lung and bladder cancers and heart diseases.

That is what the research shows. However, they do not say whether vaping is more or less harmful to one's health than smoking regular cigarettes. The study is silent on that. Are there benefits compared to tobacco? Is vaping more or less harmful? The authors of the study did not even want to comment on that. They did not feel as though they had enough information. One thing is certain; more and more people are vaping, and more and more people are using it as a crutch. We do not have enough information to clearly determine how safe vaping is.

This study has been referenced in the media quite a bit in the past week. E-cigarettes cannot be simply categorized as either beneficial or harmful, as we heard from Mr. Eaton, the dean of the University of Washington in Seattle and chair of the committee that drafted the report commissioned by the U.S. Congress in 2016. He also said that in some circumstances, such as their use by non-smoking adolescents and young adults, their adverse effects clearly warrant concern. For smokers who use e-cigarettes to quite smoking, vaping does provide a way to reduce harmful tobacco use.

Once again, there are differing opinions. In seeking the truth, I took a look at the study findings. I am not a scientist, so I just read the scientific interpretation reported in the media. I want to thank these journalists for so concisely interpreting the findings of this latest study.

The Quebec government has already dealt with this issue and passed very stringent legislation on e-cigarettes. Quebec's Tobacco Control Act already subjects electronic cigarettes and all other devices of that nature to the same regulations as tobacco products. The display and sale of e-cigarettes is limited to specialized retail outlets. To protect youth, the act bans sales by Internet, telephone, or other methods, as well as advertisements online or in store windows. Quebec has figured out how to regulate this industry in order to curb advertising aimed at youth.

The federal government must move in the same direction, but we should take our study even further so we can learn more. That is why I am very pleased about this bill going to committee. I really hope it goes to committee so that my colleague and all the members of the Standing Committee on Health get a chance to study it further. I hope the committee gets an opportunity to invite one of the authors of the last study to speak about the dangers of vaping.

I also wanted to talk about plain cigarette packaging. In France, the adoption of plain-packaging regulations had little effect on cigarettes sales. Sales declined by only 0.7%. Over the same period, however, Marlboro, the most iconic American brand sold in France, saw sales of its cigarettes grow by 3%. People were able to recognize the cigarettes and name brands anyway and chose them over the cheaper alternatives. Swapping one cigarette for another is no less harmful.

I hope the Standing Committee on Health analyzes Bill S-5 in depth with the goal of protecting Canadians and Canadian youth, not protecting an industry or business that I believe should not exist anymore.

Tobacco and Vaping Products ActGovernment Orders

January 30th, 2018 / 11:15 a.m.
See context

Conservative

Martin Shields Conservative Bow River, AB

Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Beauport—Côte-de-Beaupré—Île d'Orléans—Charlevoix.

I rise today to speak to Bill S-5, an act to amend the Tobacco Act and the Non-smokers’ Health Act and to make consequential amendments to other acts.

There is an old saying which John Wanamaker said about advertising, but it would work for politics too, that half the money we spend on politics is useless but we never know which half. Even if some of what we do in this place is fruitless, that certainly cannot be said of our efforts to combat smoking. The reduction in smoking rates in this country is a great success story. It demonstrates that well-designed legislation can improve Canadians' health. It is part of the half of what we do that really matters.

It is really worth reflecting on how far we have come. I can remember when smoking was absolutely everywhere. We have made huge strides. One in two Canadians in the 1960s was a smoker. Every second person was a smoker. Today that number is just 13%. We have made huge strides, but not all jurisdictions made similar progress. Smoking is still very prevalent in some countries in the world.

I am reminded of a story on the history of tobacco use worldwide. The author was on a train in another country when a local offered his friend a cigarette. His friend declined and the local was flabbergasted. He simply could not understand why someone would decline a cigarette. The cigarette used to have a similar cultural power in Canada. Not that long ago those ashtrays on desks in this place were in use. What started as a public sector ban eventually spread to the private sector. We no longer have to inform a server if we want the smoking or non-smoking section in a restaurant. Our country has really made progress in discouraging this deadly habit.

This brings me to the legislation we are debating today, Bill S-5. The bill seeks to expand our country's proud legacy of curbing tobacco use. The question is, does it successfully build on that legacy? The bill addresses some of the very important issues. On my way to work in the morning I have seen fewer people smoking cigarettes than before, far less compared to 20 years ago, but I am seeing more people puffing on small metal devices. When I initially saw them, I did not know what they were. They call it vaping. It does not quite have the cool look that cigarettes supposedly used to have. It is hard to imagine Clint Eastwood projecting his rugged image in those old westerns while puffing on a tube attached to a battery pack, but that is a good thing.

We know for sure that inhaling carcinogens into our lungs is neither rugged nor cool. The Marlboro Man died a long time ago of lung cancer. Does vaping really help people quit smoking as its advocates claim? A study by Public Health England found that vaping is 95% less harmful than smoking tobacco. That is a good start. It is called harm reduction. The vapour does not contain the carbon monoxide and volatile organic compounds that cigarette smoke does, but it does still contain nicotine, which is, of course, what smokers are addicted to.

Studies have found that people using e-cigarettes with nicotine were more likely to stop smoking compared with those who received placebos. It is still supplying the addictive substance, but through a much less harmful delivery mechanism. It would still be best to get off nicotine altogether, but it is a powerful drug. For those who cannot, vaping seems to hold great promise as a less harmful option.

If vaping has such great potential to help smokers quit, then we need to be very careful in how we regulate it. However, before I speak further to that point, I want to make it clear that I strongly agree the vaping market needs some regulation. Nicotine is a drug subject to the Food and Drugs Act, but as it stands, no vaping product has been authorized in Canada. All nicotine-containing vaping products are being sold illegally. I assume that would come as a surprise to many people. I see vaping happening on Sparks Street. I do believe that most of those people do not know it is an illegal substance.

It is a Wild West market out there for these products, and this situation needs to be addressed. The vitally important provisions in this bill are those that ban the sale of vaping products to those under 18. The U.S. Surgeon General released a report in 2016 which found that 25% of students in grades 6 to 12 had tried e-cigarettes. In Canada, one in four youths age 15 to 19 reported having tried e-cigarettes. These products are making their way to those underage. This needs to stop.

We know that educating children about the dangers of smoking is most effective before they reach grade 6. Too often this is forgotten. We concentrate on warning them when they are teenagers, when it is often too late. With the rising popularity of vaping e-cigarettes, we need to educate children about their danger as well. Just because they have great harm reduction potential for adults who already smoke does not mean we want more people taking it up as an addictive habit. Nicotine is very addictive.

Education should go hand in hand with regulation. However, to return to my earlier point, we need to protect the health of adult Canadians without robbing them of a viable way to get off cigarettes.

While I support this legislation, I hope the committee will carefully consider certain aspects of it. For example, while some restrictions on branding and marketing are important, I am not sure that banning flavours is wise. Many adults enjoy a variety of flavours, and access to them might help encourage them to quit cigarettes. I, myself, have a jar of jujubes in my office. I am sure many of my hon. colleagues in this place have a sweet tooth. I am not sure about the logic of sweet flavours only appealing to children. Maybe there is a good case for completely banning flavours. I just think it is something the committee should consider in depth.

The other piece of this legislation that I hope will receive some careful consideration in committee is the implementation of plain packaging for cigarettes. I support measures that will reduce the smoking rate, but we do not want to see a corresponding spike in organized crime. It is important to remember that smoking is already at an all-time low in Canada. Five decades of combatting tobacco use has been successful.

We need to be careful about inadvertently supporting the contraband cigarette industry by taking drastic new measures, especially when existing measures are working. Will cigarettes with no branding at all, even on the filter, look identical to unbranded, contraband cigarettes? If that is the case, it becomes a consumer protection issue. Contraband cigarettes often have been found to contain ingredients that would not be allowed in the regulated Canadian market.

As far as I understand it, the Australian experience of plain packaging has led to unclear outcomes. They saw a decrease in smoking rates among adults, but a possible increase among those underage. Tobacco use as measured by tobacco expenditures was unaffected. A careful cost-benefit analysis needs to be conducted.

It is up to the hon. members opposite to prove that plain packaging will not aid in the sale of contraband tobacco. I should note that while I support this bill going to committee, I am surprised the government is supporting legislation to modernize smoking laws while at the same time legalizing marijuana.

It is a real mixed message to Canadians. If plain packaging is necessary to lower cigarette smoking rates, why has no similar rule been introduced for marijuana? The Liberals are rushing forward with Bill C-45 despite the objections of police forces and municipalities across the country. Like many aspects of legalization, these issues have been left unaddressed.

With that said, as it stands, I am in support of this bill going to committee. I think it has great potential to do a lot of good. The committee will need to consider some of the concerns I have raised today to make sure the bill does not result in unintended consequences. If the committee does that, I think the bill could really help foster a healthier Canada.

Tobacco and Vaping Products ActGovernment Orders

January 30th, 2018 / 11:30 a.m.
See context

Conservative

Sylvie Boucher Conservative Beauport—Côte-de-Beaupré—Île d’Orléans—Charlevoix, QC

Madam Speaker, today we are talking about vaping. This is interesting because vaping is often associated with the bad habit of smoking. According to some available records, it took more than 50 years for people to understand that smoking is a health hazard.

That said, having worked at Health Canada from 2011 to 2013, I want to make a distinction between vaping and cigarette smoking, which is that people can vape with nicotine or with what I call placebos, which come in fruit flavours, for example.

Vaping has been recognized as a way to reduce cigarette use. In 2016, 24 studies, including three randomized clinical trials were reviewed. Two of the trials, with a total of 662 participants, showed that people using e-cigarettes with nicotine were more likely to stop smoking for at least six months, compared with those in the control group, who received a placebo without nicotine. We have to make a distinction between the two.

I fully support Bill S-5 because we need to show people that bad habits are never a good thing. People are replacing cigarette smoking with vaping because it becomes a habit. I have never smoked, thank goodness, but my mother smoked for many years and it had become a habit for her to have something in her hands, like the pencil I am holding right now. However, since my mother now has Alzheimer's she no longer remembers that she was a smoker and has stopped smoking. I think we also need to talk about that.

Most people smoke when they are stressed. There are chronic smokers and those who only smoke socially when they are having a glass of wine or a beer, but regardless, smoking is still a bad habit.

This bill seeks to prohibit vaping in public places where smoking cigarettes is already prohibited. However, I would like a distinction to be made between vaping with nicotine, which is just as harmful as smoking since it replaces cigarettes, can be habit forming, and can damage the lungs and bronchi, and vaping fruity flavours, which is not the same thing.

The bill prohibits the sale of vaping products to young people under the age of 18. If children have access to vaping, they need to be taught that vaping can be habit forming. Not every habit is bad, but smoking and vaping with nicotine can be equally harmful.

It makes me laugh when I hear my colleagues opposite asking us whether vaping can lead young people to smoke cigarettes. We do not want to create habits among young people that could lead to more harmful habits down the road. Vaping can lead young people to smoke cigarettes, just like it can lead them to smoke pot. However, the government failed to mention that.

Today we are talking about how evil cigarettes are, although people rarely talk about marijuana, although I think marijuana is worse than cigarettes, because it directly affects children's brains. That is the topic of another debate.

It must also be said that some people think that e-cigarettes are less harmful and that they reduce exposure to leaf tobacco. If the e-cigarette contains liquid nicotine, it is just as dangerous as cigarettes. It is important to make the distinction, because nicotine is the problem. Vaping is not a problem when there is no nicotine, when the liquid is nicotine free. That is altogether different.

It is important to remember that nicotine is a drug and that it is subject to the requirements of the Food and Drugs Act. Its marketing should be overseen by Health Canada based on safety, effectiveness, and quality.

I remember when the debate on vaping first began when I was working at Health Canada. At the time, it was still illegal to sell e-cigarettes in grocery stores and other stores. We wondered how these products were being sold in grocery stores, how people could just ignore it, if that was illegal and if the product was so harmful. It is unacceptable.

Now, we have a bill. I fully support this bill, but I think it needs more teeth. We need to flesh it out. If we want a good bill, we need to send it to committee so that it can be studied in depth.

I was listening to the speeches given earlier. It is true that scientists do not agree. They are all saying something different. They should work together so that we, as legislators, have a better idea of what this bill should seek to accomplish.

I will definitely be voting in favour of this bill because I think that we need to set some limits. Vaping with nicotine is what interests me the most because it is most similar to smoking. However, it is also important to remember that these products are being sold to consenting adults. It has been proven that vaping exponentially reduces the urge to smoke. I worked with a friend who smoked for 40 years. She was my assistant manager. She smoked three packs a day. That seems like a lot of cigarettes to someone like me who has never smoked. She started vaping and two months later she had quit smoking entirely, so vaping can be beneficial for some.

Now, we need to ensure that the legislation covers all aspects of vaping. In my opinion, a distinction needs to be made between vaping with liquid nicotine, which is more similar to smoking a cigarette, and vaping with flavoured liquids that do not contain any nicotine and can help people stop smoking by vaping grape-flavoured liquid or something similar. We need to be aware of that. I hope that the committee will look at that aspect. We need to consider all aspects of this bill because it is a good bill. It is a start.

It took 55 years to convince people that cigarettes were bad for their health. I hope it will not take 55 years to make them understand that vaping and marijuana are also harmful.

Tobacco and Vaping Products ActGovernment Orders

January 30th, 2018 / 11:45 a.m.
See context

NDP

Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Madam Speaker, I rise today to speak to Bill S-5, the tobacco and vaping products act.

Canada's New Democrats have long called for the measures contained in the proposed legislation and we will work positively with the government to facilitate its implementation at every stage to ensure it is passed and improved as soon as possible. The legislation will save lives.

Indeed, our party has led the fight in Parliament for strong tobacco legislation for decades. As we all know, tobacco products contain deadly carcinogens and many other harmful substances that are injurious to human health. We also know that tobacco products are highly addictive. It is really a perfect storm, a terrible substance that kills and addicts the consumer who tries it.

In the 1960s, when the federal government was still unwilling to pursue an effective control tobacco policy, more than 20 private members' bills to control tobacco packaging, labelling, and advertising were introduced by opposition members. More than half of them were introduced by NDP MP Barry Mather.

In the fall of 1986, over 30 years ago, NDP member of Parliament, Lynn McDonald, introduced a private member's bill, “The Non-smokers' Health Act”, Bill C-204, to ban tobacco advertising and smoking in workplaces under federal jurisdiction. Unlike most private members' bills that unfortunately die on the order paper, this legislation would go on to become law, albeit in a modified form in 1988.

In 2008, former New Democrat health critic Judy Wasylycia-Leis launched a successful campaign to ban flavours in tobacco products. At that time, of course, the addition of flavours to tobacco was another insidious move by tobacco companies to try to skirt effective regulation and continue to hook Canadians with their product.

The legislation before us today, Bill S-5, was introduced in response to the 2015 report of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health entitled “Vaping: Toward a Regulatory Framework for E-Cigarettes”.

In essence, the proposed act before us today aims to protect youth and Canadians from nicotine addiction and tobacco marketing, by granting regulation-making authority to the Governor in Council for the implementation of plain and standardized packaging for tobacco products and by creating a new legislative framework for regulating vaping products in our country.

Since it first took office, Canada's New Democrats have been calling on the Liberal government to expedite the implementation of plain packaging requirements for all tobacco products. Plain packaging has proved to be an effective way to reduce smoking, discourage young people from starting to smoke, and decrease second-hand exposure to tobacco smoke. Every month we delay, more Canadians, especially young Canadians, start smoking and become addicted. That will result in more Canadians dying from tobacco-related illness. Action is needed immediately for the health of all Canadians.

According to the Canadian tobacco, alcohol and drugs survey in 2015, 115,000 Canadians started smoking daily, with 82% of daily smokers starting before the age of 18. This means that of those 115,000 Canadians who start smoking pretty much every year, most of those people are under the age of 18. One-third of them will ultimately be affected negatively in a health consequence and die from that tobacco use.

The Liberal government issued mandate letters to their cabinet ministers in 2015. One of those mandates was to bring in this legislation. Here we are, almost three years later in 2018, and the legislation is still before the House and has not passed.

What did the health minister and the government do when they were given that mandate? They decided to consult. Consult about what? Did they not know that tobacco products killed? Did they not know that tobacco products were addictive? Did they not know that plain packaging worked? I will get into that in a few moments because all three of those questions need to be answered.

We knew the answers to all those questions back in 2015. Therefore, it is inexcusable the government delayed and dithered for years to bring in this legislation. We know that every day young Canadians start smoking, get addicted to cigarettes, and will ultimately die in large numbers from that.

This means that since 2015, somewhere between 250,000 and 300,000 Canadians have started smoking and become addicted since the government first said it was going to act on this matter. That is not putting the health of Canadians first, and it is not giving the priority to the health of Canadians that New Democrats believe is appropriate.

As Rob Cunningham, senior policy analyst with the Canadian Cancer Society, said:

The sooner we have tobacco plain packaging, the sooner we can have the health benefits. Plain packaging will reduce the appeal of tobacco packages and brands. Right now, tobacco companies are using brand colours and logos to make cigarettes more attractive. That might include mountain scenes or feminine pastels, it might include super-slim packages targeted at women.

I think many parliamentarians in this room have been approached by members of the Canadian Cancer Society and anti-tobacco groups. They bring with them samples of the products tobacco companies are using to market, particularly to young people and especially to young women. That marketing is disgusting. They market small slim packages that are meant to look like cosmetics, slim so they fit in a young woman's small purse at night clubs. They are directly trying to addict young women in particular to tobacco products, using sophisticated marketing techniques to do that. They are marketing a carcinogen that is addictive and that kills to our young girls and women. That needs to stop.

Plain packaging for tobacco products would standardize the appearance and size of cigarette packages by requiring the removal of all brand imagery, including corporate logos and trademarks. Packages would display a standard background colour, usually a very unattractive greenish-brown, and manufacturers would be permitted to print only the brand name in a mandated size, font, and position. Other government-mandated information such as health warnings would remain in prominent fashion.

The changes would render cigarette packages almost indistinguishable from each other, which would make them less attractive to consumers, especially young people, and would make the health warnings clearer, more prominent, and more effective.

With respect to the government needing to consult, plain packaging was implemented in Australia in 2012, six years ago; in France, Hungary, and the United Kingdom in 2016; and in Norway and Ireland in 2017. Again, we have empirical evidence from around the world from jurisdictions similar to ours that plain packaging works, and the government chose to wait and delay rather than act forcefully and effectively. Plain packaging is also under formal consideration in Slovenia, Sweden, Finland, New Zealand, Singapore, Belgium, and South Africa, among other countries.

The New Democrats believe Canada should have the strictest and most rigorous plain and standardized packaging regimen in the world in order to promote public health. While this act is an excellent start, it is not perfect and requires some scrutiny to ensure it meets its full potential. For example, in its 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 they could contain.

I met with the former health minister of Australia, Nicola Roxon, who told me we had to close every loophole in these regulations or tobacco companies would find a way to exploit them. That even includes things like their names. If we do not put controls on their names, then we will see things like “Sexy Brand Smoking Inc.” or “Young People Beauty Cigarettes Inc.” We will see the tobacco companies use that kind of marketing to get their messages to young people. We, as parliamentarians, have to ensure that does not happen.

This is why New Democrats are calling on the government to ban all brand names and terms with positive connotations, as is the case in France and outlined in the European Commission tobacco products directive. Canada should also prohibit tobacco brand variants, as is done in Uruguay.

In the past, partial marketing bans for tobacco have had limited effectiveness. When most traditional forms of tobacco advertising were prohibited, big tobacco's marketing expenditures did not stop; they simply shifted to other channels, including packaging and the retail environment.

Plain packaging not only eliminates one of the last remaining marketing avenues available to big tobacco, it also enhances the impact of health warnings.

Health warnings are the most cost-effective, self-sustaining way of communicating with Canadians about the harms of tobacco. Effective warnings should be large, prominent, be unavoidable, use colour, and include pictures. Large pictorial warnings are the most effective way to reach children and youth and the most vulnerable members of our society with low literacy.

However, warnings are not just about scaring consumers away from a deadly product. They are also about informing Canadians and providing access to support for those who need it to overcome their nicotine addiction. In Canada, every cigarette pack includes a telephone helpline number and a website for helping Canadians stop smoking.

Dr. David Hammond, professor at the University of Waterloo School of Public Health and Health Systems, recently informed the health committee that this approach had been extensively evaluated and worked very effectively.

Moreover, despite big tobacco's efforts to mislead the public, all credible evidence shows that the removal of branding does not promote illegal or contraband sales. The only research that has found any link between contraband market increases and plain packaging comes from studies funded directly by the tobacco industry.

Specifically, this research comes from reports commissioned from KPMG that had to include a disclaimer that they were not to be used for any purpose other than what the funder decreed because the terms of reference were so narrow that they could not be used to draw any broad inferences. Indeed, KPMG took the extraordinary step of writing to the U.K. minister of health to state that the tobacco industry was misusing its work.

The argument that plain packaging increases contraband tobacco sales has been repeatedly put forward by big tobacco in court cases as well, and it has been rejected every time. In fact, five separate legal rulings have affirmed the positive impact of plain packaging.

This sort of deceptive behaviour from big tobacco is nothing new. Today's fight for plain packaging follows a long and dark history of big tobacco engaging in orchestrated campaigns to deceive the public about the harms of its extremely deadly product. Indeed, in a landmark 2015 Canadian court ruling, three of the world's biggest tobacco companies were ordered to pay $15 billion for their duplicity.

In his ruling, Quebec Superior Court Justice Brian Riordan pulled no punches, saying:

By choosing not to inform either the public health authorities or the public directly of what they knew, the Companies chose profits over the health of their customers. Whatever else can be said about that choice, it is clear that it represents a fault of the most egregious nature and one that must be considered in the context of punitive damages.

Despite big tobacco's attempts to obstruct the truth, we know that of the more than 4,000 chemicals found in tobacco smoke hundreds are toxic, including hydrogen cyanide, lead, acetone, arsenic, and formaldehyde. At least 70 of these chemicals are known carcinogens. We know that every day, 100 Canadians will die of a smoking-related illness. That is one every 14 minutes. That is 37,000 Canadians who will die this year due to smoking. Of those, over 1,000 non-smokers will die of lung cancer and coronary heart disease caused by exposure to second-hand smoke.

We also know that big tobacco has no qualms with continuing to aggressively market this poison to young people in order to encourage and exploit their addiction to a product that will ultimately kill them. However, I am heartened to see that this generation of young Canadians is fighting back.

I recently had the honour of attending the Freeze the Industry luncheon on Parliament Hill. Freeze the Industry is a youth-led coalition that is dedicated to stopping big tobacco from developing and marketing products that entice young people. I was inspired to see the coalition's unwavering support for plain and standardized packaging for tobacco products in Canada.

I also must give tremendous credit to organizations that have been on the front lines of this battle with big tobacco for decades. Their tireless efforts have saved countless lives over the years. Although there are too many to name individually, I would like to specifically recognize the advocacy of the Canadian Cancer Society, the Heart and Stroke Foundation, the Canadian Coalition for Action on Tobacco, Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada, the Canadian Lung Association, and Coalition québécoise pour le contrôle du tabac. Of course, I would be remiss not to recognize the heavy lifting that has been done for us by Australia's former health minister, the hon. Nicola Roxon, who led the global fight against big tobacco to bring in the world's first set of plain-packaging requirements. That is leadership.

I might also point out that in Australia, tobacco giant Philip Morris brought a claim against Australia under investor-state dispute settlement provisions in a Hong Kong trade deal in 2011. Thankfully, this was unsuccessful, but it is another example of the misguided inclusion of investor-state lawsuit provisions in trade agreements, which Liberals and Conservatives continue to push.

By the way, Philip Morris also failed in a bid to challenge the constitutionality of plain-packaging laws in the High Court of Australia in 2012. After a five-year legal battle, Australia's plain-packaging requirements were upheld at the World Trade Organization in 2017. Therefore, we cannot underestimate the lengths and steps that big tobacco will take in order to continue to legally market its dangerous and fatal product.

Canada's New Democrats believe that we cannot give big tobacco any room to manoeuver to continue to promote this deadly product. Canada must have the strictest and most rigorous plain and standardized packaging regime in the world, and that is what New Democrats will work towards.

The proposed legislation also deals with vaping products. The New Democrats understand that this new technology holds promise as a harm reduction tool to promote the cessation of tobacco consumption. An expert independent evidence review published by Public Health England concluded that e-cigarettes are 95% less harmful than smoking and have the potential to help smokers quit smoking. At the same time, the long-term health impacts of vaping are presently unclear and require further research. Thus, Canada's New Democrats believe that the goal of any regulatory framework for vaping products should be to maximize their potential benefits as a smoking cessation tool while minimizing their potential health risks and curtailing access for minors. Publicly, Health Canada has not established a harm reduction policy or articulated the goals and administrative measures that one would expect for such an approach.

At present, the vaping market in Canada is an informal grey market in which suppliers have kept a low profile and not aggressively marketed their products, which are technically illegal. There are growing fears that the passage of Bill S-5 will trigger the entry also of large tobacco companies into the licit Canadian vaping market, which is why I will now highlight some of the weaknesses of Bill S-5 regarding the advertising and promotion of vaping products and suggest some potential amendments to remedy these gaps.

First, the prohibition on promoting vaping devices containing flavours set out in column 1 of schedule 3 may be too narrow, since all flavours could be appealing to young people. The legislation should be amended to prohibit the promotion of vaping products that could potentially be appealing to young people.

Unlike the Tobacco Act, Bill S-5 contains no restrictions on permitted locations for advertising and promotion of vaping products, which means that Bill S-5 could allow advertising on television, social media, bus stops, arenas, or virtually anywhere. Therefore, the proposed legislation should establish strengthened restrictions regarding permitted locations for vaping product advertising and promotion.

While the current bill would also ban lifestyle advertising, with some exceptions, there is no provision that states that only information or brand preference advertising is allowed on vaping products. This is another area that ought to be looked at. Bill S-5 would still permit lifestyle advertising in bars and in publications sent to adults. This provision would serve no public health purpose and should be eliminated since there is no need for lifestyle advertising in relation to a harm reduction smoking cessation device.

Finally, Bill S-5 would still permit extensive incentive promotions for vaping products in places where young people do not have access. Things like contests to win beach vacations, access to invitation-only parties, and tickets to concerts and sporting events could still be allowed and they should not be in this legislation.

New Democrats will work diligently to try to make sure that the vaping provisions of this bill serve Canadian public health interests as much as possible. We will work very diligently in that regard.

Tobacco and Vaping Products ActGovernment Orders

January 30th, 2018 / 12:10 p.m.
See context

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my hon. colleague from Vancouver Kingsway for his ever-thoughtful and very comprehensive educational view of what Bill S-5 offers and what it does not.

I am in the same boat as the hon. member. I look forward to the opportunity to plug some of the holes in committee, in my capacity as a non-member of the committee summoned for clause by clause. However, I do want to press him a little, because while the initial evidence is very clear that vaping can help people give up smoking, and therefore the statistics he shared with us are well known, that it could be a very good smoking cessation technique, the long-term health effects are not yet known.

I am wondering if the member could share with us if there is any general medical concern about the direction of the long-term health effects. What kinds of health effects? Is there any sense of what the medical community is looking for in terms of epidemiology or lab tests? I am curious about that aspect of this new smoking cessation technique.

Tobacco and Vaping Products ActGovernment Orders

January 30th, 2018 / 12:15 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Garnett Genuis Conservative Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to address Bill S-5 this afternoon. Bill S-5 is not about the legalization of marijuana, but I am going to talk a little about that anyway. The member for Winnipeg North, clearly holding up a lot of the government here today, will enjoy this in particular, I think.

The comparison between the way the government proceeded under Bill C-45 and what is happening with Bill S-5 is interesting and instructive. The reason I want to, later on in my speech, talk a little about the issue of marijuana legalization is that there is a bit of a gap when we hear members talk about the need to have clear information and the importance and value of plain packaging, but a member of the NDP cannot even answer my direct question about whether he supports plain packaging for marijuana. These comparisons are interesting. The push on tobacco, on the one hand, and then some of the messages with respect to marijuana, are clearly very much in tension with each other.

The other point I want to make in relation to the bill is that the government has spoken about the great work it has done, which happens from time to time in this place, but Bill S-5 originated in the Senate, so perhaps it is another opportunity to underline the fact that the Senate perhaps acts more independently than the government would actually like it to. When we have a bill coming out of the Senate that the government says reflects the work of the government, clearly it raises some questions about the actual independence level of the so-called independent senators the government is appointing.

I was going to move unanimous consent on something, but I will not anymore.

The issues that are dealt with in the bill are vaping and plain packaging for tobacco. The member for Winnipeg North appreciates my restraint, I am sure.

The bill speaks first about having plain packaging for tobacco. Members have probably heard, from different sides of this question, about the merits of this as a strategy for reducing the amount of smoking. For example, there are some people who argue that there has been a reduction in smoking as a result of plain packaging initiatives in some countries. However, in some of those cases, we can also see a long-term trend in the reduction of smoking in those countries anyway, so it can be difficult to establish a clear cause and effect if there was a reduction in levels, but it was consistent with a general social trend of a reduction in smoking.

The same argument could potentially be made about contraband. If we see an increase in the use of contraband after plain packaging, some might ask if that is part of a trend or something new. In general, as we try to make policy and respond to evidence, we have to, as much as possible, distill what seems to be caused by a change in policy and what might be part of an overall long-term effect. These are questions that, as we support the bill through to committee, I hope to see studied in detail, because it is not enough to have a good intention, obviously. We need to be able to demonstrate the link between the intention and the impact the policy would have practically.

One of the concerns we have heard about the proposal to have plain packaging is an increase in contraband. There are already very high levels of contraband tobacco. Over 50% of cigarettes in Ontario, for example, are contraband, and there is some evidence, although I know it is disputed by others, that plain packaging increases contraband. That creates all kinds of risks in terms of people being aware of what is in them, and obviously, the impact on health associated with that, and the greater risk of cigarettes getting into the hands of minors, and so forth.

I think there is a legitimate debate about plain packaging. It is not necessarily helpful when members characterize anyone who has legitimate questions about plain packaging as being put up to it by the tobacco industry. There is a legitimate discussion there, and I hope the committee will explore this in the spirit of that legitimate discussion. I myself remain relatively agnostic on the question. I am interested to see where the discussion on plain packaging goes.

On the issue of vaping, I have heard from constituents who have attested to the benefits for them in terms of smoking cessation. They have been able to make progress in cessation, as a result of access to vaping products, that they had not previously been able to make. I appreciate that feedback from constituents. It is something that I very much take note of as I consider the legislation in front of us.

What this bill seeks to do is regulate vaping. Certainly members have recognized the benefit of vaping, of having the information out there, and of further research. In particular, this part of the bill marshals strongly in favour of sending it to committee. There are different elements of this bill, some of which are more legitimately contentious than others. This bill deals with these two very distinct issues.

I think members know that the member for Cariboo—Prince George was in the hospital recently. I understand that he is doing very well now and is watching these proceedings. He had asked someone to highlight a particular story he had noted about a teen baseball player whose stepmother is calling for stronger vaping regulations after his death. This was someone who fell in the context of vaping and subsequently passed away. It raises again the importance of studying the issue of vaping and the impacts, as this bill does, and of exploring opportunities around regulation.

I want to send our best wishes to the member for Cariboo—Prince George and also to note this article he discovered and wanted to see raised.

I will go on to the issue of marijuana, because, as is well known, the government is proceeding with its plan to legalize marijuana. Members have heard the talking points on this. I almost slipped into saying them myself. To “legalize” and closely “regulate” is what the government always says. On the other hand, if we look at the kinds of regulations it is proposing and the arguments it is making in the context of Bill S-5, and we compare them to Bill C-45, it becomes quite clear that it is failing on this issue of close regulation, even when it comes to its own standards. I want to talk about some of those specific issues in terms of how we compare the agenda being advanced vis-à-vis tobacco and the discussion on marijuana.

First of all, we should acknowledge that while there is a great deal of public health information about the risks associated with tobacco use and a lot of information encouraging cessation from using tobacco, there is a general lack of information and advertising on the risks associated with marijuana. It has become clear to me, in some of the conversations that have happened in this House, that while one would never hear members say that they doubt evidence about the risks associated with tobacco, and there is agreement here that the use of tobacco is not good for one's health, on the issue of marijuana, there are members who really have downplayed the risks. Of course, we have a Prime Minister who has himself talked about his use of marijuana when he was an elected official while at the same time he was initially voting in favour of tougher sentencing with respect to marijuana. He then obviously changed his position. Perhaps he had some reckoning with something he was doing at the same time he was an elected official. Those kinds of messages obviously put out misinformation and confusion, in the minds of people.

I see that there are health claims being made about marijuana that are not backed by science and that are very much at odds with the kinds of claims we might hear made about tobacco. A lot of people may not know that use of marijuana, especially by young people, even relatively occasional use, can be associated with higher rates of certain mental health challenges later in life. The carcinogenic effects of marijuana are, of course, well established and, generally speaking, the carcinogenic effects of smoking marijuana are stronger than the carcinogenic effects associated with smoking a cigarette. Of course, people smoke them differently—they would not necessarily smoke a pack of joints in quite the same way—but the point is that the carcinogenic effects, pound for pound, are much stronger when it comes to marijuana. These are things that members are not always taking note of in their discussion around marijuana and, again, when it comes to the misleading health clams that we see sometimes made around marijuana.

I had a particularly jarring experience of this, which was captured by TVO. The member for Beaches—East York and I participated in a show that TVO put on—Political Blind Date, it was called—where we went to different facilities and learned about different sides of a question. We went to a facility in Toronto that has subsequently shut down, called Queens of Cannabis, where we were greeted by a so-called wellness expert who had no medical training of any sort, who was telling us about the alleged benefits of infusing one's children during pregnancy with THC. Obviously this is not something with any evidentiary basis, and yet it was the kind of health claims that were being made. We see some of these false claims being made and propagated with regard to marijuana in a way that, generally speaking, we do not see happening with respect to tobacco. There are not so-called wellness experts out there who are claiming to tell us about the benefits associated with using tobacco.

Recognizing that, the urgency of having clear, strong public health information associated with the risks of marijuana should be noted by members and should be well considered, and yet we do not have any requirements in this legislation for plain packaging on marijuana products. If members think that tobacco products should have clear warning labels, and I agree that they should, then why would the same not hold with respect to marijuana? If, as some have argued, plain packaging is beneficial for reducing the smoking of cigarettes, then why would not the same principle apply in the case of marijuana? It is strange to me and I have a hard time understanding, on the one hand, the approach to tobacco and, on the other hand, the approach to marijuana.

The government members have also talked about how, if we legalize and strictly regulate marijuana, so they say, it will be kept out of the hands of children and the profits will be kept from organized crime. I can almost give the speech from their side, I have heard the line so many times. However, when it comes to tobacco we see, as members have said today, how very often people start smoking when they are underage. It is very common that young people still access tobacco products when they are underage, and there is still a great deal of contraband tobacco that benefits organized crime. Therefore, how do we square the claims that the government is making with respect to marijuana with the information that the government members are talking about? For instance, I think it was the member for Winnipeg North who talked specifically about the age at which people often start smoking tobacco. If nothing else, the government should be considering promoting a reduction culture around marijuana as it legalizes it, but it is not even doing that, at least not in the same way that it is trying to do so with respect to tobacco.

The situation with contraband tobacco makes a point that was lost in the debate around marijuana, which is that just because a product is legal does not mean organized crime cannot be involved in that industry and benefit from it.

In reality, organized crime does not just sell illegal products. It can use illegal methods to sell legal products. Organized crime can benefit from exploiting instances of regulation or taxation, which provide it with an opportunity to operate outside of the legal sphere even while selling a product that is legal. In the case of tobacco, it is regulation and it is taxation.

I think all members are supportive of the idea of having taxes on tobacco, but when those taxes are in place, a reality is that they create an opportunity that might not otherwise exist for organized crime to be involved in that industry. That is simple, basic economics.

When it comes to marijuana and the federal government and other levels of government talk about taxation, regulation, and age restrictions, all of these dynamics will ensure that organized crime is still involved. It is a reality that organized crime is not being shut out of the picture. Those risks will continue to be in place for young people to access it.

If we look at the history of organized crime, frankly, this is true. Organized crime has benefited in certain instances when products are illegal, but it has certainly not ceased to operate when said products are legalized. Organized crime made a lot of money during alcohol prohibition, but it certainly did not go away or cease to make a lot of money after alcohol prohibition ended.

The other issue that we need to note is flavour. The last government addressed the issue of flavoured tobacco products, but the present government is open to moving forward in the future on edibles and on questions around flavouring in marijuana. There is not the same approach, with respect to the risks of flavouring and the impact associated with it when it comes to marijuana, as the approach when it comes to tobacco, and that is quite interesting.

The particular issue, as well, with marijuana is that it is just much easier to grow than tobacco, from what I have been told. The Liberal government would allow home grow. People are not growing four tobacco plants in their home regularly. Am I right?

The risk with the marijuana discussion, again, is that an environment has been created in the bill where we are going to have flavoured products, where we do not have clear health information, and where we do not have those same warning labels. As a result of allowing home grow, we will have the continuance of an illegal market, the continuance of a situation where it will be relatively easy for young people to access marijuana.

I want to make this point as well. The government has argued with respect to its marijuana legislation that the current approach is not working. If we define success as the complete elimination of marijuana use, then we could say that the current approach has not achieved complete cessation. However, nothing is going to achieve complete cessation. We have not achieved it on smoking and we have not achieved it on very hard drugs either.

Over the last 10 years we have seen a substantial reduction in marijuana use, and the numbers bear that out. I presented them in questions and comments in discussion with the Minister of Justice. If the goal was to reduce use and therefore reduce the risk, then the approach that was being taken to marijuana was not perfect—there were certainly opportunities to improve; our party favours the ticketing option—but it is quite clear that success was being achieved in terms of reduction.

To summarize, we are supportive of sending the bill to committee, of further studying the issues around plain packaging as well as vaping. I encourage stakeholders as well as my constituents to keep us informed about their perspective and proposals they have for potentially improving the bill.

It is important to highlight how the government's approach to marijuana legalization is very much exposed by this bill, and how the lack of proper safeguards and procedures in Bill C-45 is evident in comparison to Bill S-5.

Tobacco and Vaping Products ActGovernment Orders

January 30th, 2018 / 12:50 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Michelle Rempel Conservative Calgary Nose Hill, AB

Mr. Speaker, I would describe the thesis of my speech as helpful suggestions for committee stage. On the surface, there are quite a few positive things in this piece of legislation, and something I think all of us in the House can agree on is that it is a positive thing to reduce tobacco product usage. I am sure some lobbyists listening to this might not agree, but I think that is something we probably all agree on here. The question then is how we do that. Would the legislative framework we are looking to introduce drive to that end goal? Would it make Canada healthier? What are some of the opportunity costs? What are the costs associated with implementing this legislation? How do we make sure that at committee stage some of these issues are addressed?

For anyone watching, this bill was introduced in the other place and has gone through the reading stages there. It is an act to amend the Tobacco Act and the Non-smokers’ Health Act and to make consequential amendments to other acts. It was introduced in the other place on November 22, 2016. The bill proposes amendments that would implement a legislative framework under the Tobacco Act for vaping products. To clarify, a vaping product is defined in subclause 3(3) of this bill as:

(a) a device that produces emissions in the form of an aerosol and is intended to be brought to the mouth for inhalation of the aerosol;

(b) a device that is designated to be a vaping product by the regulations;

(c) a part that may be used with those devices; and

(d) a substance or mixture of substances, whether or not it contains nicotine, that is intended for use with those devices to produce emissions.

It does not include devices and substances or mixtures of substances that are excluded by the regulations, tobacco products or their accessories.

This has come up in debate already. As I understand it, and I would be happy to hear some clarification, this bill does not actually cover something that we would refer to as heat-not-burn cigarettes. When I studied this legislation, I will be honest that I had no clue about the differences between these products, but they are different and are being marketed separately now. It feels like one of those whack-a-mole situations where we have introduced this legislation to put regulations on vaping products, but we are now lagging behind on this other form of tobacco.

Since I have spent some time defining what the bill covers, my understanding is that the bill does not include heat-not-burn cigarettes. An article in The Globe and Mail in August 2017, stated:

One of the world's largest tobacco companies is rolling out a smokeless cigarette in Canada that it contends is less harmful than conventional combustible products, but some critics call the device merely a ploy to maintain – or even increase – market share in the face of dwindling smoking rates.

Philip Morris International has developed a heat-not-burn product called IQOS, or I-Quit-Ordinary-Smoking,—

They have tried to brand it as a smoking cessation product:

—that the tobacco giant says retains a high level of nicotine while reducing carcinogenic components found in the smoke of regular cigarettes.

As I understand it, this product heats the tobacco stick or cigarette up to a point where the substance can be inhaled, but is not actually combusting the product. Therefore, by the definition of the producer, not as many carcinogenic products are being inhaled. Under the theme of helpful suggestions for committee, my understanding is that the proposed regulations in the current bill do not cover this product, but we probably need some regulatory congruency just so there is some certainty both in the marketplace and for consumers and the health care system on what the government's intent is with this other product.

As far as I can tell, this product is being quasi-marketed as a smoking cessation product, but there has not been a lot of arm's-length research to show that it actually does that. The research that I have read on vaping products, which are also marketed as smoking cessation products, is that they actually prolong the period to cessation because people maintain their addiction to the nicotine.

As this bill heads to committee, I think that those particular claims and whether they are adequately addressed within this regulatory framework are important to address. If we do not have the quantitative data to look at that, then it is incumbent upon the government to initiate some studies to that effect. I did find as a legislator there was a bit of a gap in information on those claims. Certainly, the producers of these products have done research. As a legislator, I would like to see some arm's-length research done prior to making any sort of conclusions on that particular issue.

To continue on with the debate around the IQOS product, or this slightly less smoky cigarette, I want to read one of the complaints about it because I do not think the health minister has commented on this yet. It states:

David Hammond, an expert in tobacco policy at the University of Waterloo, said PMI and other tobacco companies have been making claims about minimizing health risks for decades, going back to the 1950s when filtered cigarettes were introduced.

“If they think combustible cigarettes are killing people and they would rather not sell them, then I would ask them why they continue to sell them?” he said.

Still, Hammond agreed that any nicotine product that doesn't involve smoke inhalation “is almost certainly going to be less harmful than regular smoked cigarettes. That includes e-cigarettes and it probably includes these products.”

I am reading that statement into the record because of the number of times “probably” and “maybe” are used. I think there are a lot of claims that are being inserted into the rationale for proceeding with this regulation. However, we just do not have a lot of quantitative data on it. Again, I am not trying to use that as a knock on the bill itself, but more that this is something which as parliamentarians we should be trying to get more information on at committee.

My colleague from Cariboo—Prince George, who is a fantastic colleague, brought an article to my attention that talked about the context as to why this legislation is important. An article was released a couple of days ago about a situation that occurred in Delta, British Columbia. A baseball player died under some circumstances and his mother has been calling for stronger vaping regulations after his death. This is the Kyle Losse case. His stepmother Niki Losse took Kyle to the hospital and then he passed away. She found an e-vape product where he had collapsed. A subsequent blood test determined that Kyle had nicotine in his system, and she believes there was some sort of an associated risk here.

The Kyle Losse case underscores the fact that there has not been a lot of research on the health effects of vaping tobacco. There are a lot of claims out there. While it might be true that the health impact of vaping products may be less harmful than traditional tobacco products, we do not understand what unique health challenges they may present.

As this legislation progresses, it is important for the government to look at a research framework around this issue, so that as we review the efficacy of this framework, assuming that it goes into force, we can measure those outcomes against quantifiable research. I must emphasize the point that when I was preparing for this bill, there was no consistent body of research that one could point to from credible, peer-reviewed sources that really hit a lot of these claims home. That is something we should look at.

A lot has been made about the plain packaging. I would like to take some time to talk about that as well and make a similar point.

The parliamentary secretary, in his introductory speech on this bill, talked about how Canada was lagging behind. In the past we had always been a world leader in legislation that aimed to reduce tobacco usage. He said that Canada had ceded the mantle of world leader in tobacco control to other countries such as Australia and the United Kingdom, that they had been quicker to adapt tobacco control efforts to address the always changing stories tobacco companies used to recruit new smokers, and that it was the government's intention to once again make Canada a world leader in tobacco control. The he went on to talk about the plain packaging component.

Australia has put in place plain packaging. On the surface, this is probably worth exploring, but there are associated consequences with it that we do not have a lot of research on, including the potential correlation between the introduction of plain packaging and an increase in contraband tobacco, as has been discussed at length in the House.

As always, when we as legislators use data from other jurisdictions, I sometimes feel we do ourselves a disservice, and I will get to that in a minute because there is not a lot of quantifiable data on that link one way or the other from other jurisdictions. Canada is in a fundamentally different context than a country like France. We are more geographically diverse, we have different problems with contraband, and we also have a higher rate of contraband being a problem.

At committee stage, it is worth it to perhaps bring in more experts who could speak to the problem of contraband and how the legislation with plain packaging could impact that and then amend the regulatory framework in such a way that perhaps the component could be addressed.

When I read the debate, one of my NDP colleagues asked the parliamentary secretary about this issue and the response was that the Liberals had a strategy to deal with it, which is administered by the RCMP and other agencies. I think that strategy actually turns out in March of this year. I have a concern that if this legislation comes into force and we have not adequately thought about the specific measures we need to implement within combatting a contraband framework unique to Canada, while layering on the additional pressure that the plain packaging regulations in this might have, we will do Canadians a disserve.

To emphasize the point of how much contraband is an issue in Canada, an article was posted by CBC in November 2017, which says “Contraband tobacco 'out of control' in Ontario, convenience store lobby says”. It says:

More cigarettes smoked in Ontario this year are contraband than in the last four years, a study released Wednesday by a group of convenience store owners in the province suggests. The study found especially large percentages of contraband cigarettes in northern Ontario. In the cities near Hamilton, the largest increase by far was in Brantford, where contraband cigarettes accounted for half of the cigarettes smoked, up from 36 per cent last year. In Hamilton, 31 per cent of cigarettes smoked were contraband, up from 25 per cent a year earlier. Across southwestern Ontario, contraband cigarettes rose to 33.9 per cent from 26 per cent in 2016 — the highest proportional increase in the four regions of the province studied.

The Ontario Convenience Store Association commissions the study every year, where researchers sweep a sample of about 100 butts from high-traffic locations like schools, hospitals, malls and casino in 23 cities. Then the group analyses whether the cigarette was contraband or was legally sold.

The group's president...told CBC News he acknowledges the survey isn't scientific, but said it does get at the trend without relying on consumers, stores or distributors to be honest about whether their smokes are legal.

The reason I wanted to put that on the record is that there is another theme there. He acknowledges that the study is not scientific. We hear on the news that there is an increase in contraband, but we do not really understand how widespread the problem is. This is one sample in one region of the country. It is important to note that Canada has regional differences in tobacco usage. Without having that framework, how can we possibly look at strategies to prevent the distribution of contraband products?

Again, this is a helpful suggestion as the bill goes to committee. It is incumbent upon the government to look at, as the framework for combatting contraband is potentially renewed or whatnot in March, the research on how much contraband is a problem should come to bear.

Perhaps the government could partner on with companies that are doing behavioural research on tobacco consumption using artificial intelligence technology. A lot of new companies are working in this space. Perhaps we could start looking at a better model on how we monitor this.

We love to regulate in this place. It is kind of our first reaction to any sort of policy problem. However, my concern with the implementation of the proposed legislation is that without the associated metrics or a system to measure the efficacy of the legislation, we really cannot tell our constituents whether what we have put in place here is working.

In looking at the proposed legislation, the government has not put a lot of information out to parliamentarians about the cost of implementing the framework. I do not even understand how the government would implement this framework. Therefore, I would like to see my colleagues who will study the bill at the health committee really question departmental officials about how they plan to implement it, over what time period, and what metrics the government will be using. What are the end goals? Is the government stating that the legislation will see x percentage of reduction of tobacco usage over a period of time? If so, how will the government measure that and what sort of quantitative analysis will it put in place to do that?

Again, my review of this shows that there is not a lot of framework out there or research being done on this. My concern, and I am showing my Conservative colours on this, is that we should not be moving directly to regulation without having that framework in place. We should be able to communicate to our constituents, when we put in place regulation, how much it will cost to implement and how we will measure it against stated end goals, which is kind of lacking in the bill.

On the surface, I do not oppose plain packaging. If the data is there to show that it reduces tobacco usage, then it we should probably explore this. However, my question is where is that data right now. The closest thing I could find in another jurisdiction was in France where it has had plain packaging regulations. Official data published on January 29 by the French agency shows that plain packaging has not had an impact on smoking rates. Indeed, according to l'Observatoire français des drogues et des toxicomanies, in the course of 2017, sales of cigarettes remained stable with a slight decrease of a 0.7% in volume after a 1.3% increase in sales during the first half of the year. This study was conducted between August 4, 2017 to January 29, 2018, so this is fresh data.

This failure was acknowledged by the French health minister, Agnès Buzyn, who stated, “We know that plain packaging does not lead smokers to stop smoking.” She concluded that “unfortunately in 2016, the official sales of cigarettes have increased in France. Plain packaging did not contribute to the decrease of official tobacco sales.”

The French study is worth examining at the committee stage. Also, when we do that, we should look at the regional context. What sort of factors does France have that might be different from Canada with respect to tobacco usage and contraband increases?

Whenever we seek to put regulations in place, we should be able to clearly define what we hope to see as the measurable policy outcome, which I am not sure has been stated here; how much it is going to cost; and then how we would measure success.

We need more robust research, and I would like to see the government put that in place prior to implementation of this framework.

Tobacco and Vaping Products ActGovernment Orders

January 30th, 2018 / 1:30 p.m.
See context

Conservative

David Tilson Conservative Dufferin—Caledon, ON

Mr. Speaker, I listened to the debate on the topic throughout today, particularly my colleague's comments, and there appears to be a conflict between Bill C-45, which is the cannabis bill, and Bill S-5.

Governments, provincial and federal, as well as organizations have spent a lot of money trying to stop people from smoking. We get into vaping, contraband, and a lot of these topics. All of these things are out of fear for our health, whether we are talking about illegal contraband, packaging, or health, when people go to a doctor or have surgery and have to sign something saying whether they smoke and when they stopped smoking.

In Bill C-45, it is almost like we are encouraging people by legalizing cannabis. The provincial governments will be selling different types of products or sending it out to have other people do it. Is there a major contradiction in the philosophy of these two bills?

Tobacco and Vaping Products ActGovernment Orders

January 30th, 2018 / 1:35 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Cathy McLeod Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to add my comments to the debate on Bill S-5, an act to amend the Tobacco Act and the Non-smokers’ Health Act and to make consequential amendments to other acts. After reading that very long title, people might be wishing to go back to the days of the Conservative government, when we had very catchy phrases for our particular pieces of legislation.

There are three components I would like to focus my comments on. One is vaping; the second is the intended plain packaging; and the third is the issue of flavours. If there is a little extra time, I might have some general comments on public health and the approach it is taking.

In May 2015, there was a unanimous report from the health committee. I was on the committee at that time. We worked hard, and we said that we needed a regulatory framework on vaping. We presented 14 recommendations to the government in May of that year, looking forward to the government's response. The report was unanimous and said that we needed a regulatory framework. As we know, there was an election a short time after that, and the government of the day did not have the opportunity to respond and move forward.

I find it interesting that this was in the mandate letter of the minister when the Liberals were first elected way back in the fall of 2015, a few short months after this unanimous report was presented with recommendations, and it has taken almost three years to get this particular piece of legislation to the stage it is at now. It speaks to how long it actually takes the government,when it sets something as a priority in the mandate letters, with a lot of the background work already done and a consensus within the House, to get what it says is a priority to the table. There are recent articles showing how ineffective the government has been in passing legislation, especially on something that has pretty solid support, such as the framework on vaping.

The government can never leave things simple, and it had to add a number of other issues to this piece of legislation, which I will talk about a little later. With regard to vaping, it is absolutely appropriate that there be some structure around it. Things like prohibiting the sale to minors, prohibiting promotion of vaping products that appeal to youth, and submitting information to Health Canada are all sensible pieces of moving this forward.

I know that some of my colleagues have mentioned this, but it is important to note. The member for Cariboo—Prince George, as many know, is in hospital right now, and all of us in the House wish him a very speedy recovery. It speaks to his dedication and passion for what goes on in Parliament that he has been watching the debate and sending messages to all of us as we are coming up for our opportunity to speak, asking whether we have seen a certain article or whether we are aware of this or that. I want to say to the member for Cariboo—Prince George that we wish him well. He should make sure he gets enough rest because he said he was going to look for a better balance.

I will bring to the attention of members the article he sent. It is very recent, from January of this year, and it is entitled “Teen baseball player’s stepmom calls for stronger vaping regulations after his death”. He was 14 years old. He was found collapsed in the bathroom with some vaping products beside him. Of course, his death cannot be directly attributed to them. The story is about his going to the hospital and how he died shortly thereafter.

However, it is enough to raise a caution. It is enough to say it was a young man who was exposed to a product, so there certainly are some things that we need to perhaps look at and watch from there, which really speaks to the fact that we might have a regulatory framework that is in place to provide some protection, but there is an actual need to continue the research.

I do not think anyone has talked to this particular issue. Right now it is a bit of a no man's land in terms of people selling products that are illegal, but here is a recent study that talks about the importance of research and knowing what is in the products that people are vaping. It links chemicals in flavoured e-cigarettes to a respiratory disease that is called popcorn lung. Right now people need to be very cautious because there are no controls in place in terms of what they are actually inhaling.

This says:

A chemical found in the vast majority of flavoured e-cigarettes tested by researchers in a new study has been linked to severe respiratory disease. The study out of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, released Tuesday, tested 51 types of flavoured e-cigarettes and refill liquids, known as e-juice.

It was actually a couple of years ago.

“ln our study we focused on flavours we feel are appealing to children and younger consumers,” the study's lead author Joseph Allen, assistant professor of exposure assessment science, said. “Flavours like Waikiki watermelon, alien blood, cupcake and cotton candy.”

The researchers said the flavouring chemical called diacetyl was found in more than 75% of the products tested.

This goes back to popcorn factories where people working there were getting a debilitating respiratory disease, bronchiolitis obliterans, and it is known as the popcorn lung. It is very serious and often can require a lung transplant—an irreversible lung disease.

What is concerning about that is smoking damages the lungs over a long period of time, but the effects of diacetyl and the creation of popcorn lung is much more rapid and much more concerning. It can be ingested, but when it is inhaled into the lungs, it is certainly a problem. We know it is in e-cigarettes. In the U.S. there are more than 7,000 flavours on the market, many of them containing this. Health Canada has not yet regulated e-cigarettes, so that is a word of caution for people who are using the product.

This leads me to the flavours issue. One of the things that our government committed to in the last Parliament was to ban the flavours that were appealing to youth. I know there were chocolate, strawberry, and banana flavours that were on the market and very appealing to youth.

At that time we had a pretty significant discussion and debate about menthol. There was a suggestion that we should also ban menthol, and the decision at that time was that menthol had been in cigarettes for many years; it is a product that is legal in Canada; it is a product whose risks adults who choose to smoke are aware of. They have chosen and used menthol cigarettes for years, and we thought it was unduly unfair for the government of the day to ban menthol.

I notice in this legislation that the new government has decided to go ahead with that. Perhaps members need to hear from people, especially adults, who had a lot to say about that issue, when a different decision was made in the past. I certainly agree with the issue around the strawberry, chocolate, and banana tobacco, but menthol was something we did consider.

There is not a lot of time, and the plain packaging is the final area that I want to note. We hear that it might be very helpful. We hear that it has not made a difference.

Coming from British Columbia, I did not realize how much of an issue contraband tobacco was until I came to this House and heard from my colleagues from Ontario. It was a pretty consistent conversation we had. The other thing is that, for the first time in my life, I saw these bags of contraband tobacco. Of course the Canadian government policies significantly impacted the contraband tobacco industry. There needs to be a very thoughtful conversation in committee on that particular issue.

In general, we support this going to committee. We think there are a few areas that perhaps need some additional consideration.

Tobacco and Vaping Products ActGovernment Orders

January 30th, 2018 / 1:50 p.m.
See context

NDP

Anne Minh-Thu Quach NDP Salaberry—Suroît, QC

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Today, I am speaking in support of Bill S-5 to amend the Tobacco Act to include and regulate vaping products and strengthen our hand in the fight against tobacco use.

As my colleagues mentioned earlier, the NDP has worked and collaborated with different governments in the past 30 years to promote and implement the principles underlying this bill. In 2009, the NDP introduced a bill restricting the labelling, packaging and sale of flavoured tobacco, prompting the Conservative government to legislate on the issue.

We have no choice: every year, 37,000 Canadians die from a tobacco-related disease. Tobacco use is the number one avoidable cause of disease and premature death in Canada. Think about it: every 14 minutes, someone dies from using tobacco.

The big tobacco companies want to maintain their profits despite the fact that products containing nicotine are responsible for the current situation. They lied for decades, trying to mask the harmful effects of smoking on public health. That is why it is clear that we must adopt strict and extremely explicit rules and that we must apply them to tobacco and vaping products as soon as possible.

A particular concern of mine as a former teacher is the question of plain packaging and these products’ appeal to young people. Unfortunately, too many young Canadians smoke. Approximately 17.17% of Canadians age 12 or over smoke every day. On average, smokers smoke their first cigarette at around age 13. The tobacco companies are always seeking new ways of attracting young people and promoting customer loyalty. Because we know that nicotine is addictive and that a third of all smokers die from tobacco-related diseases, we must take the matter seriously and pass legislation as soon as possible to prevent other young people from starting smoking and becoming addicted to tobacco products.

We also know that the tobacco companies can be extremely imaginative when it comes to designing packaging and developing techniques to make their cigarettes appealing. For example, they use pastel colours to attract women, one of their target markets. They also associate words like “sexy”, “beauty”, “fun”, and other terms related to the high life in bars with cigarettes. This gives tobacco products a falsely positive image.

If these health issues are not enough, the economic aspect might be of interest to my colleagues. The three largest tobacco companies in Canada made $25 billion in profit in 2015. Meanwhile, the direct and indirect health costs associated with tobacco use are approximately $4 billion per year in Quebec alone. We could repair hundreds of schools and thousands of potholes if we did not have to pay companies to make money from an addiction they themselves cause. These figures and many more can be found on the De Facto website.

Plain packaging helps make cigarette packages less appealing, particularly to adolescents and young adults. This was tested in Australia. The findings were clear: there was a significant decrease of several percentage points in the rate of tobacco use. In New South Wales, the most populous state in Australia, tobacco use among young people plummeted from 23.5% to 6.7%. In Toronto, former Australian minister Nicola Roxon explained to the press how effective the plain packaging law was in reducing smoking in Australia. Since the initiative was implemented in 2012, the number of smokers has dropped by 100,000. Proportionally speaking, we could see 190,000, that is, almost 200,000, fewer smokers in Canada. It is unbelievable. When we speak of tobacco-related diseases and deaths, we are talking about human lives that can be saved by implementing measures like these.

The tobacco industry knew that it would lose profits. For example, Philip Morris Asia sued the Australian government based on clauses in an investment treaty between Hong Kong and Australia. In its press release, the company explained that plain packaging was damaging to its intellectual property and used other spurious arguments to oppose the law. It tried to circumvent the law and manipulate the public, as it had done with nicotine. Finally, its arguments were totally rejected by the highest Australian court of law, and, apparently, the company has been making smaller profits in Australia since then. That is not entirely surprising.

This anecdote reminds us how important it is to bring in plain packaging as soon as possible, and also to be cautious when signing free trade agreements, so that companies like Philip Morris Asia cannot try to undermine our legislative arsenal protecting the health of Quebeckers and Canadians.

The second point in the bill is the regulation of vaping products, the so-called e-cigarettes. The NDP knows that this new technology is a promising harm-reduction tool to help people quit smoking. However, we do not have clear information about the long-term effects of vaping, and we need some in-depth research. We hope that this information will come over time, as the Standing Committee on Health studies this bill.

However, the benefits of this product are still debatable, since little is known about some of the products. Vaping products may contain nicotine, which is still a public health hazard. The department prohibits their importation and has seized a number of products at the border, which shows why we need to do more to limit access to products containing nicotine.

Some methods used to sell e-cigarettes, such as adding flavours, are the same as those used to sell tobacco. Banning some ingredients used to make these products taste better was a good first step, but this bill unfortunately does not prohibit all tobacco flavours, such as menthol. We must limit added flavours as much as possible to ensure that vaping products truly help lower the use of cigarettes and other tobacco products.

Another positive element in the bill is the restriction on the promotion of these products and on the addition of certain ingredients that could be perceived as healthier. Children and youth need to be protected from harmful advertising campaigns. As long as the long-term effects of vaping remain unknown, they cannot be declared safe. We need to apply the precautionary principle, restrict access to this product, and not allow companies to slip in additives, such as vitamins, in an attempt to make the product seem healthy when it is not.

Any regulatory framework for e-cigarettes must seek to maximize the potential benefits of these products as a means of reducing the harmful effects of smoking, while limiting their potential health risks and restricting access for youth.

Today is January 30, 2018. The Liberals need to speed up the passage of this bill. In 2015, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health released a report entitled “Vaping: Toward a Regulatory Framework for E-Cigarettes”. The Committee had held eight meetings and heard from 33 witnesses. The report contained 14 recommendations, including a recommendation that the Government of Canada work with all affected stakeholders to establish a new legislative framework that would set maximum levels of nicotine, among other things.

Thanks to this report, we already had all the information we needed to implement this bill. However, the Liberals waited more than two years to present us with a bill, and they tabled it in the Senate instead of the House of Commons. I will say it again: passing this bill could save lives. I hope we will be able to pass it quickly and improve it along the way.

Tobacco and Vaping Products ActGovernment Orders

January 30th, 2018 / 3:05 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Bob Saroya Conservative Markham—Unionville, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak to Bill S-5, which would amend the Tobacco Act to add and regulate vaping products as a separate class of products and would align other existing acts to conform.

Bill S-5 is a complex piece of legislation. This omnibus bill brings up many issues for us to consider. It touches on implementing plain packaging for tobacco products. This legislation would cover both cigarettes and e-cigarettes. I believe that these issues should be studied at the health committee in order for us to get things right for all Canadians.

We can all agree that cigarette smoking is harmful. That is why I stand proudly today highlighting the record of the previous Conservative government, which implemented measures that resulted in the number of young people in Canada who smoke tobacco being cut in half. Because of the previous Conservative government's tobacco policies, smoking is now at an all-time low in Canada, with the greatest reduction shown among youth.

I want to share some figures. According to Statistics Canada data from 2001 to 2011, the smoking rate for males aged 15 to 17 dropped from 19% to 10%, and for those aged 18 to 19, it dropped from 33% to 20%. Further, the smoking rate for females aged 15 to 17 dropped from 22% to 9%. For those aged 18 to 19, it dropped from 24% to 19% in that same period. Smoking rates overall, under the previous Conservative government, fell to an all-time low of 13%.

While there have been many new studies conducted on tobacco and tobacco products, it is also important to bear history in mind.

I strongly believe in the health and safety of Canadians, and I must say that we do not know enough about this legislation. It must be studied at committee.

More than 50 years ago, then minister LaMarsh rose in this place and said, “There is scientific evidence that cigarette smoking is a contributory cause of lung cancer and that it may also be associated with chronic bronchitis and coronary heart disease.” At the time of the statement, about 50% of Canadians smoked, 61% of them men and 30% of them women. Smoking was normal and permitted virtually everywhere.

The public health problem of tobacco use in Canada and around the world has been addressed for over half a century. However, we are faced with a new question. In the last few years, a new product has come to the market, so we are tasked with how to regulate e-cigarettes, or vapes.

In Canada in 2015, one in four Canadian youth aged 15 to 19, and one in three young adults aged 20 to 24, reported ever having tried an e-cigarette. The U.S. surgeon general released a report in 2016 indicating that 25% of students in grades six to 12 had tried e-cigarettes. These are alarming statistics.

We need to ensure that our youth are aware that e-cigarettes are still harmful. Research and education are imperative. I am committed to reducing the smoking of tobacco products, as they are a proven health hazard, just as I am committed to advocating keeping dangerous drugs, such as marijuana, out of the hands of our children. I know that we all agree that Canadians' health and safety is something we all care deeply about.

I understand that a number of stakeholders have concerns about this legislation. For these reasons, I believe that Bill S-5 should go to committee to address their specific concerns. It is important that stakeholders from all sides of the argument have their concerns addressed at committee, that this bill is studied, and that we get this right for Canadians.

E-cigarettes are quite a recent invention, so there is much we still do not know. We need to be prepared to hear from experts. E-cigarettes that are being used today reflect significant technological advances that are constantly changing. I understand that they are expecting to surpass traditional cigarette sales within the next 10 years. While some studies suggest that e-cigarettes are popular for quitting smoking, we need to bear in mind that there are still health risks, especially when it comes to relaying the message to our children.

Developed in 2003 by a pharmacist in China, and first introduced into the U.S. in 2007, the e-cigarette is one in a category of products called “electronic nicotine delivery systems”. The e-cigarette, a battery-powered device designed with the look and feel of a traditional cigarette, is meant to deliver inhaled doses of nicotine-containing aerosol to users.

In 2016, a total of 24 studies, including three randomized clinical trials, were reviewed. Two of the trials, with a total of 662 participants, showed that people using e-cigarettes with nicotine were more likely to stop smoking for at least six months compared to those who received placebo e-cigarettes without nicotine.

We want healthier Canadians, but before we make this decision, this legislation should be studied at committee.

Recently there have been some very interesting studies conducted on e-cigarettes. Some have suggested that e-cigarettes are less harmful, as they reduce exposure to combustible tobacco. For example, because cardiovascular risks associated with smoke are dose dependent, to reduce the number of cigarettes smoked from a pack a day to 10 a day would reduce risk.

Second-hand exposure to vapour from e-cigarettes has been tested to some extent, and there are studies that say that it has been found to be less toxic than cigarette smoke, as it does not contain carbon monoxide or volatile organic compounds. However, we know that people smoke marijuana, and it is unhealthy, just as when they vape marijuana it is unhealthy. This raises the concern that there is still a great deal of uncertainty when it comes to vaping.

It is important to know that because nicotine is a drug, it is subject to the requirements of the Food and Drugs Act and must be authorized by Health Canada prior to sale based on evidence of safety, efficacy, and quality. No vaping product has been authorized to date in Canada, and all nicotine-containing vaping products are being sold illegally.

It is very important that all restrictions on access and the sale of tobacco cigarettes to those under 18 also apply to vaping products. We need to keep our children safe. I would support restrictions on how vaping products are branded and marketed. It is important, and I hope the committee will have a chance to study this in greater detail.

The Canadian Cancer Society, the Canadian Medical Association, and the Heart and Stroke Foundation have expressed the opinion that this could be one of the most important amendments we make to the Tobacco Act in decades. That is why Bill S-5 should be studied at health committee. We should get this right for all Canadians.

Tobacco and Vaping Products ActGovernment Orders

January 30th, 2018 / 3:15 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Bob Saroya Conservative Markham—Unionville, ON

Mr. Speaker, years ago my family owned a convenience store. I am talking about close to 50 years back. In those days, the packages were fancy. They were displayed on the counter. They were displayed right behind us. They were all over the place. If members remember, at that time smoking cigarettes in the United States was the fashion. That was the design.

Times have changed. Most people understand that cigarettes cause cancer. As members know, the rate of smoking has been cut basically in half in this country. If you go to Shoppers Drug Mart, convenience stores, or any other place, cigarette packages are hidden in cabinets. I do not think this makes any difference. If there is no display, people know the name of the cigarette they want to smoke, and they ask for it. In my personal opinion, I do not think this would make any difference.

Bill S-5 should go to the committee, where the members will listen to stakeholders. Their opinions are bigger than mine. Regarding the packaging, I think it makes no difference, since all the packages are hidden in cabinets in the back.

Tobacco and Vaping Products ActGovernment Orders

January 30th, 2018 / 3:20 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Bob Saroya Conservative Markham—Unionville, ON

Mr. Speaker, I totally agree with the hon. member that Bill S-5 should go to committee, where the committee would listen to all the stakeholders. For 5% or 7% or 2% of people, it would make their lives much easier. We have to balance that with the other 95% of people who may oppose it or do not smoke these things. We know that at least 50% of Canadians do not smoke. They are not in favour of this bill. At the end of the day, this bill should go to committee, where we can listen to the experts and listen to stakeholders. Let all the opinions come to the table, and then we can decide on it.

Tobacco and Vaping Products ActGovernment Orders

January 30th, 2018 / 3:25 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Doug Eyolfson Liberal Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia—Headingley, MB

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak in support of Bill S-5, An Act to amend the Tobacco Act and the Non-smokers’ Health Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts. This legislation would be a critical step for our government in delivering on our commitment to introduce plain and standardized packaging requirements for all tobacco products.

Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of premature death in Canada. It is considered to have a role in causing over 40 diseases and other serious health outcomes. Every year, 45,000 people die in Canada from cigarette smoking.

In my two decades as an emergency room physician, I lost count of the number of patients I saw who suffered from the effects of tobacco. I watched patients with chronic lung disease as they struggled for every breath. I called surgeons to amputate gangrenous limbs. I told families of heart attack victims that their loved ones had just died. I diagnosed advanced cancers in patients and informed them that they were going to die. In almost every one of these instances, I heard the same statement from patients, “I wish I had never started smoking.”

In Canada, tobacco use has been declining. However, despite decades of efforts, in 2015, 115,000 Canadians became daily smokers. Studies show that most tobacco use begins during adolescence. In fact, the vast majority of daily smokers began smoking by the age of 18. I can confidently say that no one wants their kids to smoke.

The government and its provincial and territorial partners have undertaken some key legislative and regulatory measures in their fight against tobacco use. These measures include restrictions on most forms of tobacco product promotion, especially those targeting young people; restrictions by provincial and territorial governments on the display of tobacco products at retail; bans on most flavours that contribute to making cigarettes, blunt wraps, and most cigars more attractive, in particular to youth; restrictions on smoking in public, including bans on indoor smoking and workplaces; the introduction of large, pictorial health warning messages on tobacco product packaging; and the sponsoring of prevention campaigns.

These measures have been effective, but additional measures are needed to further discourage youth and young adults from becoming consumers of tobacco products. Tobacco packaging is one of the few remaining channels available for the promotion of tobacco products. The design and appearance of packages and of tobacco products are extensively used to develop brand image and identity, to create positive associations and expectations for consumers, and to reduce the perception of risk and harm.

The tobacco industry's own research indicates that tobacco packaging, product design, and appearance can shape consumers' perceptions about the product. For example, packages with rounded or bevelled edges are seen as conveying stylishness, elegance, and class. Research also shows how tobacco packaging can impact the perception of risk and harm associated with the use of a tobacco product. For example, tobacco products with lighter colours on their packages have been associated with less harm and perceived lower strength.

Studies have shown that promotion through tobacco packages and products is particularly effective in adolescence and young adulthood, when brand loyalty and smoking behaviour is established. Young adult smokers associate cigarette brand names and package design with positive personal characteristics, social identity, and status. Notably, in 2012, the U.S. Surgeon General's report stated that the evidence reviewed “strongly suggests that tobacco companies have changed the packaging and design of their products to increase their appeal to adolescents and young adults.” This is unacceptable.

Our government is committed to protecting young people and others from inducements to use tobacco. This government is seeking to accomplish this by introducing plain and standardized packaging requirements for all tobacco products. One may wonder what we mean by plain and standardized packaging. Quite simply, it refers to packaging without any distinctive or attractive features. Packages, of any brand, are similar in appearance and the same ordinary colour.

Since 2010, the World Health Organization has been calling on parties to the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control to consider introducing plain packaging measures. Canada is a party to that international convention. Australia was the first country to successfully implement plain packaging in 2012. The United Kingdom, Ireland, and France have also adopted plain packaging measures and these countries are in various stages of implementing those measures. In total, over 10 countries, including Canada, are taking steps toward standardizing tobacco packaging.

My colleagues may be asking themselves if plain and standardized packaging works. Independent research studies spanning more than two decades and multiple countries have shown that plain and standardized packaging requirements reduce the appeal of tobacco packages and the products they contain.

In 2016, Australia published the results of its post-implementation review of its plain packaging efforts. The review concluded that tobacco plain packaging is achieving its aim of improving public health in Australia, and that is expected to have substantial public health outcomes in the future. In fact, in Australia, since 2012 there has been a decrease in the prevalence of tobacco use, which has been in part attributed to the standardization of tobacco packaging. The expert analysis of the post-implementation period found the packaging changes, which included both plain packaging and graphic health warnings, resulted in an estimated 108,000 fewer smokers.

Cochrane, a global network of researchers, recently released a review of 51 studies that found there is a consistency of evidence from a variety of differently designed studies and from a range of diverse outcomes that shows plain and standardized packaging reduces the appeal of tobacco packages. These are the same conclusions as found in other comprehensive reviews.

It is clear that even a small change in initiation and cessation of tobacco use would be sufficient to produce public health benefits that outweigh the estimated costs of implementing plain packaging.

Bill S-5 is critical as it would provide the necessary authorities to implement plain and standardized packaging through future regulations. In particular, Bill S-5 would prohibit the promotion of tobacco products by means of the packaging, except as authorized by the act and regulations. It would also provide the necessary authority for future regulations to set out the details for plain packaging.

As a first step in the regulatory development process, our government launched public consultations last year, on World No Tobacco Day, on its proposal to implement plain and standardized packaging for tobacco products. Our government published a detailed consultation document online for 90 days. That document, entitled “Consultation on 'Plain and Standardized Packaging' for Tobacco Products”, highlighted a number of measures where public opinion and feedback were sought.

Over 58,000 responses were received. The overwhelming majority of responses were in favour of plain and standardized packaging. Specifically, the responses from non-governmental and public health organizations were resoundingly supportive of plain and standardized packaging, and included recommendations to strengthen the proposed regulatory measures. There was also a high level of support from the general public, with over 90% of participants in support of plain and standardized packaging. In contrast, comments received from the tobacco industry and retailers opposed the proposed measures. There is still a lot of work to be done, but our government is committed to moving as quickly as possible to implement plain packaging.

Should Bill S-5 receive royal assent, our government would proceed with the development of regulations. That regulatory proposal would go through the typical regulatory process, which would include another period of public consultations on the draft regulations. Our government believes it is important to continue to take decisive action to help protect young people and others from inducements to use tobacco products, and the consequent dependence on them. It is our government's firm belief that the measures in Bill S-5 are essential to further reduce the attractiveness of tobacco products for youth and young adults. Remember, tobacco is a deadly product that kills one in two long-term smokers.

With the support of the members in the House, all Canadians will reap the benefits of improved health outcomes thanks to a further decline in tobacco use. I trust that all members will agree and join us in supporting Bill S-5.

Tobacco and Vaping Products ActGovernment Orders

January 30th, 2018 / 3:45 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Mark Warawa Conservative Langley—Aldergrove, BC

Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Haliburton—Kawartha Lakes—Brock.

I want to give a shout-out to the member for Cariboo—Prince George. He has had some very difficult health issues and may be watching today. This is an important issue for him too. I hope he is doing well and is back with us very quickly.

Bill S-5 has two objectives. One is to deal with the packaging of tobacco products, and we have just heard a presentation from the Liberal member on plain packaging. The other part of the objective of Bill S-5 is to regulate e-cigarettes and the vaping industry.

I want to begin by talking about plain packaging. I want to thank the Liberal member who just spoke for his work in this place, but what was shared and what has happened in Australia has been referenced a number of times by the member. I would encourage him and members of the health committee to approach this with an open mind.

Keeping tobacco products out of the hands of our children and young adults and seeing the use of tobacco products reduced even more I think is a goal of all of us. There is a very clear link between some catastrophic health problems that go along with the use of tobacco products. Whether they are inhaled through smoke, or chewed, they do bad things to the human body. There is no argument on that. The argument is on packaging.

I will not say which government gets the credit for this because as politicians we all want to get credit for good things that happen, but the facts are that we are at an all-time low of the use of tobacco products in Canada. That is a good thing. It probably was the former Conservative government that got it done, but I do not want to take the credit.

A moment ago there was discussion about the importance of enforcement. What enforcement body has helped us achieve that great goal of reduced use of tobacco products in Canada? It is stores right across Canada that ensure tobacco products are in a covered, locked, age restricted way so children do not get tobacco products from the stores. When they are covered and out of sight behind flap doors, customers do not see them. They have to be opened up and customers will request what they want. If they are an adult, they can have access to it. Children cannot have cigarettes or tobacco products because of our stores and merchants, which do a very good job. We have achieved this lowest in the use of tobacco products in Canadian history.

Having plain packaging is required in Bill S-5, which was authored from the Senate by an independent Liberal senator. I want to thank the senator for the work and for sending the bill to the House. The question on packaging is whether it will make a difference. Will it reduce tobacco use even more? We have heard about the Australia example.

Definitely the amount of legal tobacco products that have been sold in the period since 2012 has gone down. Therefore, there is a deduction that because the amount of sales of labelled tobacco products has gone down, the use has gone down.

In the KPMG study that the member referenced, at the same time, we have seen the change in the pattern of purchase. A number of young people have asked where they could get cheaper tobacco products when they went to the plain packaging. Also, the KPMG study showed that there has been a dramatic increase in contraband, illegal tobacco products. Therefore, the argument that there has been a reduction is really on very shaky ground. It may have gone down. I do not know. I know that the legal sales have gone down, but the illegal sales have gone up. This is why throughout the debate today often the question of contraband tobacco has come up, which I think is a very important part of the discussion.

If plain packaging does not make a difference in the actual use of the tobacco products, if that is the end result, the truth part that comes out in the study, then why would we do this? If it would make a difference, then, obviously, plain packaging has a strong argument to make. However, if it does not make a difference, why head in that direction?

I think most members will support Bill S-5 going to the health committee to do a study. However, for my Liberal colleagues across the way who are all excited about endorsing Bill S-5—and the previous member said that plain packaging was essential—I do not think that is going into this with an open, scientific mind. Minds are already made up, and I would caution against that. The witnesses called have to be not witnesses who are going to say what they want them to say, but esteemed people, such as scientists and statisticians, who will give us the information we need to make good decisions in the House. I encourage that.

At this point I will remain open to finding out the truth and the facts on whether this will make a difference. If it will, then we should support it. If it would not make a difference, and there could be an argument that it would make it worse, then we should not go in that direction.

The next issue that arises from Bill S-5 is vaping, e-cigarettes, which has been around for a number of years, but not that long. The argument in favour of e-cigarettes and vaping is that it is less damaging and less harmful to our health. Instead of inhaling a product that has been ignited, we would be breathing in products that have been vaporized. There are different contraptions, and I think that now, over the years, they are in generation five. Therefore, they are getting better and bigger. Actually, the bigger they get, the hotter the vaping, and more chemicals can be created that can be harmful to our health.

Sadly, in the metro Vancouver area where I live in beautiful Langley, we were saddened to hear on the news that there was a young 14-year-old boy from Delta, Kyle Losse, who had passed away. His family heard a noise in the washroom. They found Kyle dizzy, and he had fallen, and there was an e-cigarette vaporiser on the floor. They took him to the hospital, and I believe less than a week later he passed away. They believe he was vaping nicotine.

People can vape all kinds of products in these e-cigarettes. It can be nicotine, which is a drug, or things that taste wonderful. One can vape marijuana. The advantage for youth in vaping is that one does not have the bad breath smell that one does with smoking. It is very difficult for parents to know that a youth has been vaping marijuana products, because there is no odour. They would have to be a drug expert, like a DRE, training with the police.

We are living in a new world, with new challenges. Should vaping be regulated? Absolutely; I do not see a problem with that at all.

Tobacco and Vaping Products ActGovernment Orders

January 30th, 2018 / 4 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Jamie Schmale Conservative Haliburton—Kawartha Lakes—Brock, ON

Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to be here today to speak about Bill S-5, an act to amend the Tobacco Act and the Non-smokers’ Health Act and to make consequential amendments to other acts.

For nearly 55 years, the Canadian government has taken a position on cigarette smoking and protecting the health of Canadians from coast to coast to coast. When mounting scientific evidence clearly and conclusively demonstrated that cigarette smoking was a contributing cause of lung cancer and coronary heart disease, so began a half century of addressing the public health problems of tobacco use here in Canada.

At that time, about half of Canadians smoked. Currently, there are two federal acts that address tobacco products and their use at the federal level: the Tobacco Act, administered by Health Canada since 1997, and the Non-smokers' Health Act, administered by Employment and Social Development Canada. More recently, in 2001, the federal tobacco control strategy was introduced in Canada. It focused on smoking prevention for children and youth, smoking cessation, and second-hand smoke prevention. In 2005, Canada became party to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

I am very proud of the Conservative Party's record on reducing tobacco smoking. When the Conservative government implemented measures in this area, the number of young people in Canada smoking tobacco was cut in half. Today, through the concerted efforts of government, public health agencies, national and local advocacy groups, and schools, the number of Canadians who smoke has been reduced to just 13%.

Bill S-5 aims to amend the Tobacco Act and the Non-smokers' Health Act by adding and regulating vaping products as a separate class. The bill goes a fair distance in addressing some very important public health questions, but there are some instances where I feel it does not go far enough. This is why I hope it gets closer examination at committee.

I think everyone here agrees that smoking is harmful. We want to reduce the number of people smoking and the harmful effects associated with it. We need to make sure these products are safe for Canadians. We also need to make sure we combat the crime involved in all of the things the bill addresses. We need to be concerned as well about the many economic impacts we might see as the bill is implemented. The vaping industry today is fully unregulated, and that is a problem if we are concerned about vaping products getting into the hands of children, and rightly so. I would like the industry to regulate it and I support this part of the bill. The recommendation to only make vaping products available to those over 18 is a very good idea.

With this legislation, we are faced with a question of how to regulate a new product on the market, the e-cigarette. In fact, there are conflicting opinions in Canada about what to do at this particular juncture: regulate, wait for more evidence, or ban the e-cigarette.

Since 2015, the U.S. Surgeon General has issued recommendations to legislate standards for the manufacturing, distribution, marketing, and sales of e-cigarettes. The U.S. Surgeon General concluded that e-cigarettes are a rapidly emerging and diversified market class to deliver nicotine and flavourings, and presently surpass conventional cigarette use among youth. Bill S-5 would ensure that all restrictions of access and sale of tobacco cigarettes to those under 18 years of age would also apply to vaping products. These include the ban and sale of all vaping products to youth under the age of 18 years, no vending machine sales, and age verification with postal delivery for online purchases.

In addition, flavour ingredients that appeal to youth are prohibited, such as dessert, cannabis, and soft drinks. Also, the manufacture, promotion, and sale of vaping products with ingredients that give the impression they have positive health effects are prohibited, such as probiotics, caffeine, and vitamins. However, as of yet, no standards for maximum levels of nicotine contained in the vaping liquid have been established. I would encourage the committee to explore this through witness testimony, and here is why.

The Canadian Student Tobacco, Alcohol and Drugs Survey of 2014-15 found that 65% of students thought there was a “great risk” of harm from smoking traditional, combustible cigarettes on a regular basis. The survey found that only 12% thought there was “great risk” of harm from smoking e-cigarettes. Almost one in four students thought there was “no risk” of harm from using them once in a while and, sadly, one in six students had no idea whatsoever. Clearly we have our work cut out for us in educating young Canadians, which is why we cannot ignore standards for nicotine use in e-cigarettes.

There are four questions to be considered when examining the scientific evidence on vaping and e-cigarette health and safety: as I have already mentioned, as a gateway for youth to tobacco use; as an aid in smoking cessation; the toxicity of the emissions in the inhaled vapour; and potential risks from second-hand smoke exposure.

One concern is that the e-cigarette will actually serve as a gateway to tobacco addiction for young Canadians. A recent review by the University of Victoria suggests that tobacco use in the U.S., Canada, and other countries is declining significantly among 12- to 19-year-olds as vapour device use is increasing, unfortunately.

While three small studies have been done on the use of e-cigarettes as an aid in getting smoking down to the levels where it reaches almost zero, strong evidence is now lacking on whether or not there are serious adverse effects associated with e-cigarette use in the short term. The long-term safety of these devices remains largely unknown. There are also serious concerns about the health effects associated with vapour device emissions. I am positive vapour devices do not deliver tar, and their emissions do not contain 61 out of the 79 cigarette toxins; however, a recent 2016 study in the journal Environmental Science & Technology identified more than 31 compounds generated with vaporizers, and stated many more have yet to be identified. Second-hand exposure to vapour from e-cigarettes has been tested to some extent and is found to be less toxic than cigarette smoke as it does not contain carbon monoxide or volatile organic compounds. However, the vapour does produce a measurable absorption of nicotine in bystanders, and how to measure that risk is not yet clear. All reviews of second-hand exposure have called for more testing to clarify the conflicting findings on the emissions of particulate matter, metals, and other substances.

As we all know, the government is intending to legalize marijuana in about 150 days. I find it interesting that as we are trying to modernize regulations about smoking, the government, even though it wants to reduce smoking, has added marijuana smoking to its must-do checklist. The Canadian Medical Association has come out with studies that show the harm to young people, as their brains are still developing. They see a 30% increase in schizophrenia, psychotic disorders, depression, anxiety, and addiction in young people who consume marijuana once a week. Both vaping marijuana and smoking marijuana are harmful. If we are talking about reducing overall harm, particularly to our young children, we need to make sure we do not incentivize young Canadians to use vaping products with marijuana. I urge the committee to examine this important matter and to bring amendments to this bill that would include marijuana.

Bill S-5 is a complex piece of legislation that also implements plain packaging for tobacco products. There are some inconsistences here that I believe need to be addressed at committee. There is inconsistency in the approach of packaging marijuana versus tobacco, for one. There are also concerns about quality control and how we would make sure to protect consumers from contraband versus the well-regulated and quality-controlled production of cigarettes.

In 2012, Australia was the first country to legislate plain packaging for cigarettes. The outcomes there were twofold. On the one hand, the number of Australians smoking slightly decreased; on the other, incidents of contraband cigarettes increased from 10% to 26%. In my home province of Ontario, it is estimated that 40% to 60% of cigarettes sold are contraband. It can also be bought all over the province. There are important consumer health considerations within the contraband cigarette market. There have been numerous complaints about the content of some of the contraband tobacco. We have heard stories about dirt, bugs, and animal manure being mixed in. From a quality control point of view, if a cigarette has absolutely no markings on it, we have no idea where the product came from. More than one in three cigarettes purchased in 2014 was an unregulated contraband product. If the aim of Bill S-5 is harm reduction and one instrument is plain packaging, I really think the committee needs to weigh plain packaging versus the health and safety risks of organized crime and tobacco cigarettes.

While no one would argue against the need to modernize these acts, we must form a view that weighs all intended and unintended consequences of Bill S-5.

I know that my time is up and I look forward to questions from my colleagues.

Tobacco and Vaping Products ActGovernment Orders

January 30th, 2018 / 4:15 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Colin Carrie Conservative Oshawa, ON

Madam Speaker, I am speaking today in regard to Bill S-5, an act to amend the Tobacco Act and the Non-smokers’ Health Act and to make consequential amendments to other acts. We have heard today that everyone is committed to reducing the smoking of tobacco products, as it has been a proven health hazard. We support the regulation of vaping products, as well as other consumer products. However, some stakeholders have some legitimate concerns, and some things need to be looked at, so we support the bill going to committee to address these concerns.

I want to start by talking a bit about a conversation I had today. I have a 16-year-old, and I was having this conversation with her about smoking and marijuana around the schools, and so on. I asked her about vaping and what she thought about it. She told me she has an older friend who vapes, and he said she should not start, because if she started vaping, she would not want to stop. Coming from a 16-year-old and a young person who obviously is already addicted to it, it is good advice. We all have to consider the big picture. We all want to see less of these products used.

There are two parts to the bill. One part is on plain packaging and the rest is on vaping. The bill aims to build strong regulations and legislation that builds upon what our previous government has done. About 55 years ago, in 1963, Judy LaMarsh, Canada's minister of health, declared there is scientific evidence that cigarette smoking is a contributory cause of lung cancer and that it may also be associated with chronic bronchitis and coronary heart disease. It began half a century ago, addressing this public health problem of tobacco use in Canada, but also around the world. At that time, about 50% of Canadians smoked, and a lot has happened since then.

Personally, I am very proud to be part of a government where I served as parliamentary secretary to the minister of health. We made some gains in that regard. We tackled the issues of smoking rates throughout the introduction of legislation to encourage smoking in Canada to decline. Today, approximately 13% of Canadians are smokers. Smoking is now at an all-time low, with most progress shown among our youth. Smoking rates of males aged 15 to 17 dropped from 19% to 10%, and those 18 to 19 years of age dropped from 33% to 20%, according to Stats Can statistics. Smoking rates of females aged 15 to 17 dropped from 22% to 9%, and those 18 to 19 years of age dropped from 34% to 19%. It is going in the right direction.

However, over the last few years e-cigarettes and vapes have been emerging on to the Canadian market, and they create a new set of challenges for Canadian lawmakers and health officials.

E-cigarettes were developed in 2003, apparently first in China. They were introduced in the U.S. in 2007. These e-cigarettes are part of a category of products called “electronic nicotine delivery systems”. The e-cigarette is a battery-powered device designed to look and feel like a traditional cigarette, and it is meant to deliver inhaled doses of a nicotine-containing aerosol to users. It does this by heating a solution commonly referred to as an e-liquid.

The vaping industry has been keen to share figures regarding the use of vapes among Canadians, and I would like to summarize a few of those stats. In Canada, in 2015, one in four Canadian youth aged 15 to 19 years reported having tried an e-cigarette, and one in three young adults between the ages of 20 to 24 had tried it.

Some of the research out there suggests that e-cigarettes are safer than combustible tobacco cigarettes, and that makes sense. In 2016, a total of 24 studies, including three randomized clinical trials, were reviewed. Two of the trials, with a total of 662 participants, so a good study, showed that people using e-cigarettes with nicotine were more likely to stop smoking for at least six months compared to those who received placebo e-cigarettes without nicotine. We are seeing some evidence that these may have a use, particularly for people who are trying to quit smoking.

Some of the research suggests that e-cigarettes are less harmful as they reduce exposure to combustible tobacco. For example, cardiovascular risks associated with smoke are dose-dependent. To reduce the number of cigarettes smoked from a pack a day to 10 cigarettes a day would reduce the risk. There is something to be said perhaps about vaping and e-cigarettes that have less of these combustibles.

Second-hand exposure to vapour from e-cigarettes has been tested, and to some extent have been found to be less toxic than cigarette smoke, as it does not contain carbon monoxide and volatile organic compounds.

It is important to note that because nicotine is a drug, it is subject to the requirements of the Food and Drugs Act and must be authorized by Health Canada prior to sale based on the evidence of safety and efficacy, things along these lines. To be clear, and people do not realize this right now, no vaping product has been authorized to date in Canada, and all nicotine-containing vaping products are being sold illegally. People do not understand that. That is why this debate is so important today, and it is important that we move the bill forward.

Of importance is that the restrictions on access and sale of tobacco cigarettes to those under age 18 would also apply to vaping products. To be clear, these are still unregulated products, and the average Canadian may not know a lot about them.

I want to thank my colleague from Cariboo—Prince George, who I think is watching tonight, for an article he sent that calls for stronger vaping regulations. Here is a big shout-out to him to get better soon. We still do not know the long-term effects of these products, and we have to keep them out of the hands of our kids.

However, I have had the opportunity to witness a demonstration of the technology with people from the vaping industry in my riding of Oshawa. I watched these devices and the inhalable vapour. I had a conversation with them and I listened to them. Many vaping advocates champion vaping as an effective quitting mechanism for cigarettes. For some of these folks it works. They start with a certain nicotine percentage and eventually work their way down to lower amounts or nothing at all. A study on vaping done in the U.K. showed a 95% reduction in harm from vaping over regular tobacco products. This is something we have to keep in mind.

Another large aspect of the vaping industry is the flavours. This is going to be very controversial because this e-liquid can be made in almost any flavour, but are all these flavours safe? What do we know, and what do we not know?

We know that the vaping industry is totally unregulated and there are no government quality controls in place. In Canada, the majority of products on the market are regulated, so we have to move this forward. It is the sensible thing to do.

Another reason for regulating is the variety of products on the market. Many companies are creating new devices for sale in Canada, and e-cigarettes are no different. We are seeing new, emerging technologies from the tobacco industry aimed at reducing harm versus the traditional cigarette. These technologies are out there and they need to be properly regulated by the federal government.

These products are not the same as vapes. They heat tobacco without burning it to create a smoking sensation with less harmful methods of consumption. There has been some research to suggest that this is less harmful, with up to 75% harm reduction for these products. They could be viewed as positive trends in reducing harm and moving Canadians off smoking, but in order for this positive narrative to continue, we urge the government to regulate these things appropriately.

The second part of the bill is about plain packaging of cigarettes and the contraband and quality control issues that must be addressed. Let us review what we know about plain packaging in other countries.

There has been a lot of extrapolation about Australia. As a matter of fact, in 2012, Australia was the first country to legislate plain packaging, and in March of last year the World Health Organization released an executive summary, which said that Australia had witnessed a decline in smoking prevalence rates between 2010 and 2013. However, this decrease in Australia's national smoking rate had brought on an unintended increase in the import of contraband tobacco. As we are aware, Australia imports all of its tobacco, and the contraband part of it grew from 10% to 26%.

These things need to be addressed. According to a study by the Canadian Convenience Stores Association, 30% of cigarettes sold in my riding of Oshawa are contraband. As my colleague said earlier, there is a lack of markings on these cigarettes and it is hard for the consumer. This is where we have to focus on consumer protection. We have seen an increase in contraband cigarettes, and we have heard the stories about cigarettes being contaminated with animal waste, dirt, and harmful bacteria.

We have heard about consistency. The Liberal government is going to be regulating marijuana. Unfortunately, it is not going to be consistent and have the same protections in here. I look forward to moving this legislation to committee so that we can address some of these issues.

I think all of us here in the House can agree that we need to do more to protect our kids from these smoking products.

Tobacco and Vaping Products ActGovernment Orders

November 3rd, 2017 / 10:05 a.m.
See context

Scarborough Southwest Ontario

Liberal

Bill Blair LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada and to the Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to be here to begin the second reading debate on Bill S-5, an act to amend the Tobacco Act and the Non-smokers’ Health Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts.

Bill S-5 was introduced into the other place last November by Senator Petitclerc. My sincere thanks to the senator for helping advance this legislation, and to the members of the Senate Standing Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology for their work in reviewing this bill.

All members of this House are aware of the dangers associated with tobacco use. They also know that reducing the use of tobacco has been a primary public health goal of governments, at all levels, for decades.

My colleagues should also know that tobacco use is a significant economic burden on this country as well. It cost Canadian society approximately $16.2 billion as of 2012, the last year for which figures are available. That is $466 for every Canadian. These costs are for health care, responding to tobacco-related fires, policing contraband tobacco, research and prevention, and include lost productivity due to disability and premature death from tobacco use.

Bill S-5 will advance key elements of our government's comprehensive plan to strengthen tobacco control in Canada. These include the establishment of a new framework for regulating vaping products and facilitating the implementation of plain packaging for tobacco products.

Before I lay out details of the bill, I want to set out some broader context, so that members may appreciate the need for strengthening tobacco control and how the bill fits in within the broader health agenda.

When the federal tobacco control strategy was launched in 2001, Canada's tobacco control approaches were regarded as innovative and world leading. As a nation, we established an impressive track record in driving down tobacco use. Indeed, we established ourselves as a world leader in this area. Overall, our smoking rate has fallen, from 22% in 2001, to 13% in 2015. Since the launch of the federal strategy, all the provinces and territories have enacted their own tobacco control legislation and approaches. The combined efforts of federal, provincial, territorial, and municipal governments in tobacco control have been crucial to Canada's success to date. The decline in tobacco use in Canada means that fewer Canadians will die as a result. This is something we can all be proud of. However, we can always do better.

The sad fact is that 4.5 million Canadians still use tobacco. In 2015 alone, 115,000 Canadians became daily smokers. Approximately, 45,000 Canadians will die every year from tobacco-related illness, representing 18% of all Canadian deaths. That is one person every 12 minutes. By the time we finish with this speech, another Canadian will have passed away from a tobacco-related illness. The toll of tobacco-related preventable deaths is unacceptable. Our goal recognizes the need to establish a new regulatory framework, one that is firmly grounded on public health imperatives.

Canada has ceded the mantle of world leader in tobacco control to other countries such as Australia and the United Kingdom. They have been quicker to adapt their tobacco control efforts to address the always-changing strategies that tobacco companies use to recruit new smokers. It is our government's intention to once again make Canada a world leader in tobacco control. That is why we have launched an ambitious tobacco-control agenda. This agenda has four main components.

First, our government published an order amending the Tobacco Act to ban the use of menthol in most tobacco products sold on the Canadian market. Evidence has shown that the use of these products makes tobacco more palatable. Tobacco companies have acted on this by introducing menthol products in far greater numbers. By implementing a ban on menthol, we have acted on the evidence as well. The changes we made expanded flavour restrictions to 95% of the entire tobacco market in Canada, helping to make tobacco products less appealing to youth. With Bill S-5, we are proposing to go further and ban it in 100% of tobacco products.

Second, our government has initiated work to modernize Canada's approach to tobacco control. The federal tobacco control strategy was set to expire on March 31, 2017. We have extended this deadline to March 2018 to allow more time to consult broadly and to fully examine all of the options. This past March, we convened a national forum, at which more than 150 stakeholders and partners discussed the future of tobacco control in Canada. We launched the forum by asking participants how we could best modernize Canada's approach to tobacco control. We also conducted an online public consultation on the future of tobacco control. Reaching our goal will require the support of all Canadians, including stakeholders, provincial, territorial, and municipal governments, and indigenous peoples.

We heard from more than 1,800 individuals and organizations from across Canada. We heard that Canadians are tired of having their health and the health of their loved ones adversely affected by this highly addictive substance. They are ready to take action to prevent young people from taking up smoking, and they are ready to make a commitment to living healthier lives.

Third, our government has committed to implementing plain and standardized packaging for tobacco packages and products and to make them less attractive to our youth and other Canadians. This commitment was identified in the Minister of Health's mandate letter, and its implementation is a priority for our government.

Fourth, we have committed to addressing the growing market for vaping products. Regulating vaping is important to the health of Canadians, particularly in terms of protecting youth and preventing the potential renormalization of smoking. As I said earlier, our tobacco control strategy must remain up to date with the changing product trends.

Having provided details on our government's agenda for tobacco control, I would like now to take this opportunity to provide more details on the key aspects of Bill S-5.

Bill S-5 supports our commitment to implementing plain and standardized packaging for tobacco products. Tobacco packages are powerful promotional vehicles for the industry to communicate brand imagery. Research has shown that plain packaging measures, including the removal of logos, textures, colours, and brand image, help make tobacco products less appealing, especially to youth.

I firmly believe that tobacco companies should not be able to use attractive packaging to market a product that causes devastating, indisputable, and well-documented damage to people's health. Canadians agree, and they are ready to support action by the federal government that would discourage youth from starting to use tobacco products. As such, the bill would support the implementation of plain packaging of tobacco products by providing the authority to develop regulations to enable and facilitate this.

Bill S-5 will also help us respond to the rapid increase we have seen in the popularity of vaping products. Evidence has suggested that these new products, while harmful, would be less harmful than traditional tobacco products, and consequently they have the potential to bring about public health benefits if they reduce tobacco-related death and disease.

For smokers who are unable to quit, switching to a vaping product could be a way to reduce the harm that smoking has on their health and the burden that it places upon society. However, these products could also potentially lead to nicotine addiction to the use of tobacco products, and to the renormalization of smoking behaviour, reversing the gains we have made over the past 30 years.

Recent surveys conducted by Health Canada indicate that 26% of Canadian youth aged 15 to 19 have tried an e-cigarette. This is a concern. Early exposure to nicotine can render an individual more susceptible to nicotine addiction and may have adverse consequences for brain development. Sadly, young people may not recognize the lifelong implications of experimenting with these products. Bill S-5 aims to strike a balance, allowing adult smokers to use vaping products which may provide them with a path away from the more deadly cigarette, while also protecting youth and non-users from being recruited into a lifelong addiction to nicotine.

The legislation proposes to regulate the manufacture, sale, labelling, and promotion of vaping products with and without nicotine, including vaping devices and substances such as e-liquids. The bill would amend the Non-smokers' Health Act to protect those in federally regulated workplaces from the potential harms of second-hand vapour. The bill would also harmonize compliance and enforcement authorities for both tobacco and vaping products with other modern statutes administered by Health Canada.

Bill S-5 also contains provisions aimed specifically at protecting young people from vaping products. For example, the bill would restrict youth access to vaping products by prohibiting the sale of these products to youth under the age of 18. It would protect youth from inducements to using vaping products by prohibiting marketing practices known to be effective at targeting youth.

In these ways, Bill S-5 responds to the recommendations made by the Standing Committee on Health in its report entitled “Vaping: Towards a regulatory framework for e-cigarettes”.

Some people have been critical of Bill S-5 because they want to be able to promote vaping products as reduced-risk products. To address this concern, the other place proposed amendments to Bill S-5 to allow the government, through regulations, to set out exceptions for certain evidence-based statements regarding the relative health risks of vaping products. Once these regulations are in place, manufacturers and retailers would be allowed to use these statements in their promotions for vaping products. At the same time, Canadians would continue to be protected from deceptive or misleading claims on the health hazards of using vaping products.

We will also continue to invest in scientific research to better understand the health impacts of vaping and to gather data on how Canadians are using these products. In fact, Health Canada and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research are already collaborating to regularly generate data on vaping products which is used to inform policy and regulatory decisions.

Let me be clear. The evidence we have today indicates that while it is true that vaping products are less harmful than cigarettes, they are still potentially harmful. Bill S-5 would enable us to have stronger federal oversight to better protect Canadians from the negative health effects associated with using these products. Should Bill S-5 become law, Canada will join the ranks of some 60 countries that have already taken action to specifically regulate vaping products.

These international approaches range from minimal regulation to full bans. Despite these differences, many jurisdictions, including the European Union and the United States, are taking similar approaches to protecting youth from the dangers of nicotine addiction while allowing adult smokers to access vaping products.

In conclusion, the proposed legislation would allow our government to protect the health of Canadians by establishing a new framework for regulating the manufacture, sale, labelling, and advertising of vaping products in a flexible way that could be adjusted as our knowledge of these products evolves.

I would like to reiterate that vaping products are not harmless, and that the evidence on nicotine is clear. It is particularly harmful to young people. Given these facts, our government is committed to taking action and to balancing the needs of Canadians through this legislation.

Bill S-5 takes into consideration both the health harms, and the potential public health benefits of vaping products. It aims to protect youth and non-users of tobacco products from inducements to use tobacco, and it would allow adults to legally access vaping products as a less harmful alternative to tobacco.

Bill S-5 also supports our government's efforts to implement plain and standardized packaging requirements for tobacco products. It is a critical piece of our government's tobacco control agenda. If passed, Bill S-5 would contribute to reducing tobacco use in Canada and allow for the regulation of vaping in a way that protects the health and safety of Canadians.

Our government is committed to charting a new course of action in tobacco control that contributes to our overall vision for a healthy Canada. It is critical that we work together to address one of our most challenging and enduring public health problems. Accordingly, I encourage all members to support Bill S-5 at second reading and refer it to the Standing Committee on Health for further study.

Tobacco and Vaping Products ActGovernment Orders

November 3rd, 2017 / 10:25 a.m.
See context

Conservative

Marilyn Gladu Conservative Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to be here today to speak to Bill S-5, an act to amend the Tobacco Act and the Non-smokers’ Health Act and to make consequential amendments to other acts. There are two parts to the bill. One speaks to the plain packaging issue and the rest to vaping.

I am going to take my usual approach and say what I like about the bill and what I do not like, and then discuss things I think we should consider as we move the bill forward.

I am very proud of the Conservative Party's record on reducing tobacco smoking. When the Conservative government implemented measures in this area, the number of young people in Canada smoking tobacco was cut in half. That is admirable. Smoking rates overall under our government fell to an all-time low of 13%. I think everyone in the House would admit that we know that smoking is harmful. We want to reduce the number of people smoking and the harmful effects associated with it. However, that is not the only consideration in the bill. We also need to make sure that we reduce the crime involved in all of the things the bill addresses. We need to be concerned as well about any of the economic impacts we might see as the bill is implemented.

With respect to the vaping industry, it is possible that people are not very familiar with vaping. I had a number of people in the industry come to me and demonstrate all the neat devices one can use to take either glycol, water, or some additives and heat them to a vapour that one can inhale. A number of things are being vaped. In some cases, people use vaping to get off smoking. They start with a concentrated nicotine liquid and over time reduce the concentration of that nicotine liquid. The act of vaping sort of satisfies their smoking need, and over time they actually can quit smoking.

In addition to that, there are different flavours that have been allowed. People are vaping flavours for different reasons, some to get off smoking, and some to address other situations. Folks who are diabetic or morbidly obese apparently prefer to vape something that has a sweet flavour to it, because then they are not really receiving any calories but are addressing one of their compulsive needs.

This is the information that has been shared with me by the vaping industry. On the other hand, the vaping industry today is totally unregulated. That is a problem, because in Canada we regulate pretty much everything else: food, drugs, etc. We are also concerned about vaping products getting into the hands of children, so we would like to see the industry regulated. That is a part of the bill I do like. We need to regulate this industry. The recommendation to only make making vaping products available to those over 18 is a very good idea.

We also need to make sure that as we deal with this, we take into consideration all of the different types of devices. This is an area where the technology is changing. One of the points raised earlier was that e-cigarettes need to be in this category. However, even within the tobacco industry, there is growing science to reduce harm. Therefore, one of the products that is not currently addressed by this legislation, but needs to be addressed somewhere, is nicotine sticks, the actual tobacco sticks that are heated. They are not being combusted. It is not a smoking phenomenon; it is a heating phenomenon. The research that has been done by that industry shows there is a 75% harm reduction from these products. Somewhere, these products need to be addressed, but they are not really addressed today by this legislation. I have heard some conversation suggesting that they would remain under the tobacco part of the legislation, but that would not give them a fair playing field, because they would be competing with the vaping products.

The vaping products that are out there need to be regulated. We need to be concerned about how these things will be promoted and sold. Today, unregulated vaping shops have arisen. The regular convenience stores are not able to get into that market, so the input from the Canadian Convenience Stores Association is that whatever rules are put in place, they would like to be able to partake and participate in that market. That is a reasonable concern.

One of the studies done in the U.K. on vaping shows a 95% reduction in harm from vaping over smoking regular tobacco. This is definitely moving in the direction of reduced harm. I am concerned that if we are too restrictive about advertising those benefits, it might be a mistake. We want people to stop smoking. That is one of the main drivers of all the things we are talking about today, so that is something that needs to be considered as well.

I will move on to the plain packaging side of the story. The history of that is an implementation that was done in Australia. The outcomes were twofold. One, there was a slight reduction in the number of people smoking tobacco. I believe there were 100,000 fewer people smoking tobacco over a three-year period. However, there was an increase in contraband. Australia does not produce its own tobacco. It imports everything. Within that, contraband grew from 10% to 26%. That is concerning, especially when we look at how that compares to Canada.

We have quite a contraband problem in the tobacco industry in Canada. In fact, in Ontario, it is estimated that 40% to 60% of cigarettes sold are contraband. I know in my own riding, there are smoke shops literally everywhere where people can buy illegal contraband tobacco. It is simply not being enforced by the police today. Many of the first nations in my riding are the ones putting forward this product. I understand the sensitivity of that.

If we are going to go to plain packaging, there are consumer health considerations, because there have been numerous complaints about the content of some of this contraband tobacco. We have heard stories about dirt, sweepings, and animal manure. From a quality control point of view, as was pointed out earlier, if a cigarette has absolutely no markings on it, we have no idea if it was made by a well-regulated industry or if it was made in someone's barn. That is a concern for me. We have a lot of regulation in every other area of food and drugs, and this should be no different.

The other thing that is sort of hypocritical on the part of the government has to do with a discussion I participated in on the health committee with respect to marijuana and whether plain packaging would be appropriate for it. To start, organized crime is already participating in this market. There is lovely packaging, with all kinds of colours, and people are becoming brand loyal, especially in the edibles market. The idea was that if plain packaging was introduced, it would not be competitive with what is already in place from organized crime. The discussion was that they would not move to plain packaging.

I do not know how one could make that argument on that side and not on the tobacco side, with a 40% contraband market in Ontario, and I believe, about 30% across the country. That bears a bit of discussion, because what we are really talking about is competing harms. There is the harm reduction we are going to get from going to plain packaging for smoking versus the harm increase from not having quality control for that product, plus the harm from the organized crime interactions. We have to take a bit of a holistic view when we look at that.

A number of organizations are weighing in on this legislation. We looked to the Canadian Cancer Society and the Heart and Stroke Foundation for their input on this.

The Canadian Cancer Society said, “We applaud the federal government's commitment to implement plain and standardized packaging for tobacco and are writing to encourage speedy adoption of the regulations. Plain packaging for tobacco products would prevent tobacco companies from using packs as mini billboards promoting tobacco.

“Despite the fact that smoking rates have declined by more than half, tobacco use remains the leading preventable cause of disease and death in Canada, killing 37,000 Canadians every year. We're deeply concerned by Canada's unacceptable high rates of smoking, especially among youth.

“Health Canada's tobacco strategy expires in March 18. I urge you to strengthen this strategy through better funding to allow for stronger initiatives and greater impact through modernization of the outdated federal Tobacco Act, that is almost 20 years old, and through the speedy adoption of plain-packaging regulations.”

We see that these organizations see some merit in plain packaging, but obviously, they share similar concerns about controlling quality. It may be that we want to have some kind of government-approved mark on cigarettes that would at least allow the consumer to differentiate between something that is contraband and something that is not. That said, we know that those in organized crime are quite clever, and if we put a mark on something, they could easily copy it. We see that we even have counterfeit money, so that may not fix that concern.

Some of the other things I want to talk about have to do with the recommendations specific to packaging. There was discussion about having an optional alphanumeric code used for product identification. I think it should actually not be optional. It would mean there would be a number system on each cigarette, with letters referring either to Canada or to the province or territory where it is sold, such as AB for Alberta, or CA overall, or CA-ON for Canada-Ontario. Having a set of numbers would be another prevention tactic that could be used to try to keep contraband out of the market. It is worth considering.

Bill S-5 also would not allow the tobacco industry to introduce the harm-reducing products it is coming forward with under the vaping legislation. They would be required to be under the tobacco legislation, which is more onerous, from a product introduction point of view. That includes getting products approved, getting products added to the list, and the amount of scientific evidence businesses have to bring about health and other impacts, including environmental. I would say that there needs to be a fairer playing field between them.

Let us talk a bit about marijuana, because the government is intending to legalize marijuana in July 2018. It seems to me that it is a totally hypocritical approach. We are trying to modernize regulations about smoking, and the Liberals, even though they want to reduce smoking, have added marijuana smoking to the list of things they want to do.

I am certain that the Liberals would want to bring amendments to this bill that would include marijuana so that it is clear, because people are vaping marijuana, and they are smoking marijuana. Both are harmful. The Canadian Medical Association has come out with studies that show the harm to young people as their brains are developing. They see a 30% increase in schizophrenia, psychotic disorders, depression, anxiety, and addiction in young people who consume marijuana once a week. If we are talking about reducing overall harm, it would be a concern to me to bring marijuana into this whole thing. That speaks again to having measures in place to make sure that young people do not get hold of these products.

At convenience stores today, cigarettes are kept behind the counter. People cannot see them. I am not sure that on top of that we actually need plain packaging. People cannot see the packaging, so I do not think those who are smoking are really buying cigarettes on brand loyalty. Considerations that might be important are actually more about regulating size. Companies have started to come out with slender packs of cigarettes, with cigarettes that are skinnier and that come in little ladylike packages. Even if they make the package plain, allowing that different size gives the illusion that somehow smoking will make people skinny. I do not know that this is always true, although we do see quite often that when people stop smoking, they gain weight, so there might be something to it.

I think that is certainly an enticement, and for women who want to carry cigarettes around in their purse, it is quite convenient. It is an incentive to smoke. We want to look at all those things and say that perhaps that is not the right idea.

We also need to give consideration to the existing industry. In Canada, we have a number of tobacco producers, and they have seen job losses over the years. They recognize that eventually we want to eliminate all smoking. However, they have an export business, and there is a demand out there. Therefore, we need to be sensitive to the impact on jobs. One of the questions their representatives asked me when they came to visit had to do with their ability to produce a colourful package to export. It is not clear in this legislation whether that would be allowed, because we would only allow the production of plain packaging. There would have to be some sort of exemption to allow them to continue to supply cigarettes for export. Otherwise, it would hurt their businesses, and obviously there would be job reductions. That is an economic concern.

There are also members who have tobacco growers in their ridings who will be concerned about the impact of any changes that come out of this bill. We need to give consideration to that as well.

There is a lot to consider and discuss in this bill. There are some good things in the bill, such as the fact that the vaping industry would be regulated, and we would be able to put in some protections to make sure that children were not accessing vaping products. We would be able to make sure that retailers that cannot participate in the industry could start to participate, which could be a good outcome.

However, we see that on the plain packaging side, there are a lot of inconsistencies. There is inconsistency in the approach we would use for marijuana versus tobacco. There are concerns about quality control and how we would make sure to protect consumers from contraband versus the well-regulated and quality-controlled production of cigarettes. There is the whole area of the new technology and trying to create a fair playing field for that.

I am impressed to see the tobacco companies coming forward with multiple generations of new products that are not smoked tobacco that are used to get people to ultimately reduce their nicotine intake and get off this drug. However, right now the constraints on them, because they are regulated as smoked tobacco products, are not helping them move in the right direction, which is the direction we want to see people go. We want people to stop smoking. We know that smoking is one of the leading causes of death in Canada. We want to make sure that we do everything we can to help the industry as we transition to products that transition Canadians from smoking.

At the same time, we need to make sure that we do not incentivize young Canadians with the marijuana legislation that is being introduced, which includes the message that kids aged 12 to 17 can possess up to five grams. That is the wrong message. There are a lot of children and young people who do not understand that marijuana is harmful to them. We need to get that public education message out there. We need to make sure that we control all these products so that when they start to be used with marijuana, there are not unintended consequences. I do not think there is a lot of research, for example, on the concentration of marijuana one can vape safely. I think that is an area of concern, especially when we see some of the contaminated supplies of marijuana that exist and that probably will continue to exist.

For all of those reasons, I think there is enough good in this bill that it is worth talking about. However, as members can see, there are a lot of areas of concern that would have to be sorted out at committee. As one of the members of the health committee, I look forward to helping sort through them to see whether we can address these issues and come out with a bill that, at the end of the day, will do more good for Canadians than harm.

Tobacco ActGovernment Orders

November 3rd, 2017 / 12:30 p.m.
See context

NDP

Brigitte Sansoucy NDP Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, the NDP has no complaints about Bill S-5 and supports it at second reading. The purpose of the bill is to create a new legislative framework for regulating vaping products and implement plain and standardized packaging.

We have long called for effective, concrete anti-tobacco measures to discourage young people from starting to smoke. The NDP is clearly a leader on this front. We have long called for plain packaging and a regulatory framework for vaping products.

In 2009, the former health critic, the member for Winnipeg North, introduced a bill to close loopholes in the Tobacco Act by tightening requirements for the labelling, packaging, and sale of flavoured tobacco products. In the last election campaign, we promised to introduce anti-smoking measures, increase funding for anti-smoking strategies, implement plain packaging, and ban all flavoured tobaccos.

We also talked about the need to initiate a federal review to strengthen Canada's tobacco control legislation and strategy, which expires in 2018. It is clear that our demands were heard because it is now illegal to use flavourings and additives in tobacco products, even though the Conservatives did not weigh in on the tobacco issue during the 2015 election campaign. We also hope that the government will support this bill, and that we will be able to work together to implement it and improve the health of Canadians.

According to the Canadian Community Health Survey published in March 2017, over 5 million Canadians aged 12 and older smoke either daily or occasionally. Over 18% of Quebec residents smoke, exceeding the national average. In response to the 2015 report of the Standing Committee on Health, this bill would effectively combat smoking and vaping, particularly among youth. This would have a positive impact on Canadians' health, especially lung health.

Smoking is the leading cause of disease and premature death in Canada. The annual health care cost per smoker in Canada is over $3,000, which adds up to $17 billion a year. If passed, this bill could save money by reducing smoking rates in Canada. Studies show that people with a psychiatric disorder are two to four times more likely to smoke than the general population. More than 80% of those with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder are smokers.

There is no doubt that tobacco causes serious illnesses and a number of problems that can lead to death. One Canadian dies from tobacco-related illness every 14 minutes. That is unacceptable. This is why we are supporting this bill and why we are urging the other parties to do the same. Anti-smoking groups rightly point out that the longer we wait to pass a bill like this one, the more people will start to smoke and the more people will die from the consequences of tobacco use.

This bill would rename the Tobacco Act as the “tobacco and vaping products act”. Vaping is a more recent problem, and we must regulate the use of these products. Vaping products are indeed less harmful than cigarettes. According to a study by Public Health England, e-cigarettes are estimated to be 95% less harmful than tobacco and could help smokers stop smoking. E-cigarettes are the most well-known and most popular vaping product. They first appeared in Canada in 2007.

Although there are regulations in place, it is difficult to restrict access to e-cigarettes. There is no evidence as of yet indicating that e-cigarettes encourage young people and non-smokers to start consuming nicotine. However, we still lack information on these and other vaping products, since they are new to the market. These products and their different flavours may seem enticing, especially to young people.

The 2015 Canadian tobacco, alcohol and drugs survey found that nearly 15% of Canadians aged 15 and older have already tried e-cigarettes, an increase over the percentage reported in 2013.

If this bill is passed, the ban on tobacco sales to persons under the age of 18 will also be extended to vaping products, and it will also be illegal to promote vaping products by referencing specific flavour descriptions or ingredients that suggest health benefits, because this would be considered false advertising.

It will also be illegal to promote vaping products to young people using tobacco brands or information-based advertising. Labels on these products must carry warnings regarding their nicotine content and the health problems they can cause.

These measures are less restrictive than those applied to tobacco, since these products are considered less harmful for now. However, the United States Food and Drug Administration has grouped vaping products and tobacco products together under one regulation. It is vital that vaping products do not become a new source of nicotine addiction, that they are used only to reduce the harmful effects of smoking, and that young people's access to them is restricted. That is why this bill creates a regulatory framework for these products.

Linda Bauld, a British cancer prevention research expert, said that free stop smoking services are the most effective way to quit, but she recognized that e-cigarettes may help many people stop smoking.

The only downside to this bill is the fact that vaping product manufacturers will be able to promote their products everywhere, which is bound to attract young teens. Some provinces and territories, including Quebec, have different, stricter rules about this. In Quebec, vaping products can be advertised only in newspapers and magazines aimed at adults, not children. Bill S-5 will have to harmonize with provincial laws on that score.

Vaping products may help reduce tobacco consumption, but it is important to remember that using them does not break the smoking habit. Maison Alcôve, a well-known addiction treatment centre in Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, made it clear that the only way a smoker will stop smoking is by breaking those habits, those daily rituals. Smoking an e-cigarette is still smoking. Using vaping products to reduce tobacco consumption has limitations we need to consider.

If this bill passes, manufacturers would be required to submit to the Minister of Health information on sales and the ingredients in the vaping products, to ensure follow-up. The 2015 report of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health regarding vaping contained 14 recommendations, including one to create a legislative framework for vaping products. This bill follows on those recommendations.

Bill S-5 would also require plain packaging for tobacco products, a requirement Australia enacted in 2012, followed by France and the U.K. in 2016. The NDP wants us to adopt the strictest packaging system in the world in order to combat the effects of tobacco on the health of Canadians. This measure is also being considered by many countries such as South Africa, Sweden, and Singapore. It is one of the measures we promised to implement during the 2015 election campaign.

Plain packaging is an effective way to reduce tobacco use, dissuade young people from smoking in the first place, and limit exposure to second-hand smoke, which can have an adverse effect on non-smokers. Plain packaging would also help standardize the appearance and format of all tobacco products and get rid of logos and trademarks. The colours on the packaging would be neutral and health warnings would always be included. Plain packaging has been proven to make health warnings more effective.

Canadians will therefore be better informed of the health risks of tobacco and will be more aware that it is a dangerous product.

Just look at the impact that plain packaging had in Australia and you can see that this measure is essential to reducing tobacco use. Australia experienced the largest-ever decline after plain packaging was introduced. According to David Hammond, from the University of Waterloo, plain packaging resulted in more than 100,000 fewer Australian smokers. If plain packaging were to have the same impact in Canada, that would translate to 190,000 fewer smokers. These figures were taken from 100 different scientific studies. Scientific evidence shows that plain packaging would help significantly lower the number of smokers.

Fourteen studies on the impact of plain packaging in Australia were published in a British Medical Journal supplement. All of these studies found that plain packaging makes cigarettes less attractive to young people, and it did not lead to increased use of tobacco or contraband tobacco. Instead, the initiative pushed smokers to try to stop. Plain packaging makes tobacco less appealing.

According to research carried out in the Australian state of Victoria, smokers perceive plain-packaged cigarettes to be lower in quality and therefore less satisfying. As a result, they are more likely to consider quitting. Tobacco packages are currently designed to be appealing and eye-catching to make consumers forget that tobacco is a deadly and addictive product. I agree with Rob Cunningham, a senior policy analyst for the Canadian Cancer Society, who said that it is wrong for an addictive, deadly product like tobacco to be marketed in packages that are designed to be attractive. This is clearly not normal.

This bill would put an end to this practice by introducing plain packaging requirements. This measure has received the support of many organizations and associations, such as the Canadian Coalition for Action on Tobacco, a group with many members who specialize in the issue of tobacco use and tobacco-related diseases. The coalition's representatives provided a committee with a document demonstrating that plain packaging has the support of more than 340 organizations across the country. A coalition of over 200 Quebec organizations, including the City of Montreal and the Quebec division of the Canadian Cancer Society, has also expressed support for plain and standardized packaging. This shows that this measure is universally supported.

Some people might be concerned about the problem of counterfeiting plain packaging. We can look to Australia for an example, where neither the Australian border services agency nor the tobacco industry identified any counterfeiting problems since plain packaging was introduced. Investigations even found the opposite, that is, fewer instances of counterfeit packaging of foreign brands. As for the concerns of convenience store owners, once again using Australia as an example, studies found that Australian retailers quickly adapted to the new measures regarding plain packaging and that cigarette pack retrieval times did not really increase at all.

The bill also contains other provisions. Indeed, the Non-smokers' Health Act, which seeks to protect those in federally-regulated workplaces, will be amended to ensure that vaping products are subject to the same prohibitions as tobacco products.

Bill S-5 also harmonizes compliance and enforcement authorities with those found in other modern statutes, including the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act. These authorities would apply to both vaping and tobacco products. This would allow inspectors to use telewarrants and enter private property in carrying out an inspection, while accompanied by any person qualified to conduct the inspection. They could also require manufacturers to keep records, and stop or move any means of transportation for the purpose of inspection.

The Senate adopted 10 amendments to Bill S-5. Eight of them are largely technical. One amendment requires the Minister of Health to undertake a review of the operations of the act and to table a report in both houses of Parliament.

The final amendment would make menthol and cloves prohibited additives in all tobacco products.

I want to emphasize the fact that disadvantaged and marginalized populations are the easiest targets and, unfortunately, they tend to consume more tobacco than the general population. They are also more likely to suffer from tobacco-related diseases. For example, 40% of first nations people smoke, and 37% of people who are divorced or separated smoke. We can no longer allow these groups to be targeted. That is why we have to focus our anti-smoking programs and services on them. We have to implement strategic measures to improve social conditions and reduce the social and environmental factors that promote tobacco use. The end goal is to reduce the gap in health status between general and disadvantaged populations caused by serious tobacco-related diseases.

Canada needs to get with the times and look to laws passed in Australia, France, England, and other countries that have implemented plain packaging, prohibited the use of terms with positive connotations that encourage people to use tobacco, and regulated the use of e-cigarettes and vaping products.

Youth are also affected by this. Young people usually start smoking during adolescence. They are an easy target because they are easily influenced and find the packaging appealing.

This bill will make it possible to minimize tobacco use and nicotine addictions among young people. As a result, it will also reduce the percentage of smokers.

In 2014, at the Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention, the World Health Organization urged its member countries to pay particular attention to young people and vulnerable groups when it comes to tobacco.

The main goal of this bill is to protect young people by discouraging them from smoking and by giving adults access to tobacco substitutes, such as vaping products. Passing this bill would be a major step forward in reducing tobacco use and would improve the health of Canadians.

It would be very unfortunate if this bill were not passed because we really need regulations and measures like the ones set out in Bill S-5 to successfully reduce tobacco use. However, we also need to make young people aware that they can choose not to use tobacco. We need to get them to think about what they are taking into their bodies and make sure that they know how to say no.

Parents also need to be educated about this, so that they stop trivializing smoking and realize that, yes, smoking is dangerous.

An organization in my riding called Satellite and one in Acton Vale called Horizon soleil are tyring to educate younger kids about these issues beginning in elementary school. Education will have a stronger impact and must go hand in hand with passing Bill S-5 in order to effectively reduce the number of smokers in Canada.

I have discussed this bill with some of the stakeholder organizations in my riding, including the ones I just mentioned, Satellite and Horizon soleil, which start educating children in elementary school, as well as their teachers and parents, regarding the harmful effects of using tobacco and the importance of not using it as teenagers, and especially not in elementary school. We really need to have a strict law, because young people are drawn to these products, with their colourful packages and different flavours. We need to make sure they do not ever start smoking. We all know people in our lives who want to stop using tobacco. We know how hard it is. We need to focus on prevention so that they do not start using tobacco.

As I was saying in my speech, I have spoken with stakeholders and the director of Maison l'alcôve, a very reputable addiction prevention centre in my riding. They were saying how hard it is to address this problem because it is a matter of breaking daily habits.

My NDP colleagues and I would like this bill to be passed.

Tobacco ActGovernment Orders

November 3rd, 2017 / 1 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Stephanie Kusie Conservative Calgary Midnapore, AB

Mr. Speaker, this afternoon I will be sharing my time with the member for Haldimand—Norfolk.

I am addressing Bill S-5, An Act to amend the Tobacco Act and the Non-smokers’ Health Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts. The possible implications of this bill are not conclusive but should be investigated by the Standing Committee on Health.

Our party strongly supports reducing smoking among all Canadians, especially our youth. This has been reflected in the numerous policies we put forward while in government.

Vaping, which is often considered a healthier alternative to smoking, is addressed in this bill. Although it may be healthier, nicotine is still an addictive substance, which requires public education on the associated risks and numerous regulations on access. Establishing plain packaging policies for tobacco products is one of the other primary components of this bill.

There is currently conflicting research on the market impacts of this bill, and therefore there should be thorough studies obtained. We need to ensure that this bill will in fact do what it is intended to do: lower smoking rates. We must also consider alternative tobacco products. Although some may be substantially healthier than smoking, the industry has been unable to demonstrate that or market these products to consumers, because they are considered tobacco products. This dilemma should be explored.

Smoking is harmful, and we are proud to support policies that reduce the rate of smoking in Canada. The previous Conservative government introduced numerous measures to curb smoking rates. These included larger, updated warning labels; the banning of flavours attractive to children; the removal of loopholes exploited by large tobacco companies; and heightened regulations on advertising. As a result of these policies, we were able to get Canada to an all-time low smoking rate, I am proud to say. Smoking rates for adolescent males dropped by almost 40%, and by 44% for adolescent females. We believe that these fortunate declines in smoking rates among adolescents were a direct result of these policies.

We strongly believe in the health and safety of all Canadians and further minimizing smoking, and vaping may be an opportunity to do so.

The safety of vaping has had minimal research. However, it is certainly a large improvement over conventional cigarettes. The smoke of conventional cigarettes contains significantly more dangerous substances, many of which are carcinogenic, including tar, benzene, cadmium, and arsenic. Although e-cigarettes have been found to contain levels of cancer-causing compounds, such as nitrosamines and formaldehyde, the level at which these chemicals are found are about a thousand times lower than they are in conventional cigarettes. Some studies have even proven that vaping has the ability to assist individuals in quitting smoking. Because some e-cigarettes come with assorted amounts of nicotine, individuals are able to gradually step down their intake and eventually quit completely.

With the legalization of nicotine in vaping products such as e-cigarettes, education and research are imperative. Nicotine is still a harmful substance, even if it is not smoked. According to Health Canada, nicotine increases heart rate and blood pressure, constricts blood vessels, lowers the body temperature of the extremities, alters brain waves, and relaxes muscles, not to mention that it is a highly addictive substance. With addictive substances, individuals are prone to withdrawal symptoms up to a month following quitting. These symptoms include dizziness and shakiness, headaches, anxiety and irritability, nervousness and restlessness, difficulty concentrating and sleeping, increased appetite, slight depression or feeling down, and increased cravings.

We need to ensure that sufficient education is done on the risks associated with nicotine. Most individuals know that smoking is hazardous and causes cancer, but the public must also understand the risks associated with other nicotine technologies.

The bill also intends to implement plain packaging for the tobacco industry, similar to what was employed by Australia. However, Australia had inconsistent results following their implementation in 2012. Essentially, it removed trademarks, logos, non-prescribed colours and graphics, allowing only the use of a brand name and a prescribed size and font. When Australia reviewed the policy in 2016 to determine if smoking rates had declined, some experts observed that there was nothing statistically significant to suggest that smoking rates had lowered as a result of applying plain packaging to tobacco products.

Although plain packaging has had a negligible impact on smoking rates, it has had a major impact on market dynamics. Since it is now more difficult to tell the difference between tobacco brands, the price of cigarettes has become more of a determining factor. There has been a marked drop in the sale of premium brands and a marked increase in the sale of lesser known brands. Many premium brands have been taken off the market and become obsolete.

According to some reports, contraband tobacco has also become more popular since plain packaging policies have come into effect. However, professionals in the field actively dispute this supposed rise in popularity because the reports in question were commissioned by tobacco companies and are most likely biased.

The Canadian Cancer Society does not believe that plain packaging has led to an increased use of contraband tobacco and it maintains that Canada's advanced tax stamp system prevents counterfeiting.

Technological advancements also make us reflect on what is included in the definition of tobacco products and vaping products. The bill seeks to recognize that vaping products are a healthier alternative to tobacco products. It also recognizes that there are some so-called tobacco products, at least technically, that the scientific community regards as healthier alternatives.

The Standing Committee on Health needs to examine the possibility of allowing businesses to promote those products to consumers, or at least to people who have no intention of quitting smoking.

The United Kingdom and New Zealand expanded the scope of their definition regarding healthier alternatives that could replace nicotine and tobacco use. A wide range of replacement products can be found all around the world, including heat-not-burn cigarettes, moist smokeless tobacco, and nicotine soluble and inhalable products.

We must look at the potential impact of the sale and promotion of these products to target groups. We must make sure that Canadians are familiar with alternatives to using tobacco, particularly people who have no desire to quit smoking. If they manage to adopt a healthier habit, this will likely help bring down health care costs in Canada, which could also increase efficiency.

There is a lot to consider with the bill and it is imperative that answers are provided to the unknowns I have just mentioned. Consequently, I suggest the bill to go to committee to receive a compressive examination. As parliamentarians, we have a duty to do our best at improving the health of Canadians. I believe the bill, with proper oversight, has the potential to do so.

Tobacco ActGovernment Orders

November 3rd, 2017 / 1:15 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Diane Finley Conservative Haldimand—Norfolk, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to add my thoughts to this important discussion on Bill S-5, an act to amend the Tobacco Act and the Non-smokers’ Health Act and to make consequential amendments to other acts.

One of the most important roles of any government is to protect the health and the safety of its citizens. As Conservatives, we have always taken this very seriously.

The previous Conservative government took a number of steps to improve the health of Canadians by funding and implementing various programs to reduce the smoking rate in Canada. Some of these initiatives included tightening advertising restrictions, banning flavoured cigarettes, which were seen as attractive to children, and introducing regulations for larger and updated warning labels. In fact, under the previous Conservative government, smoking rates among youth aged 15 to 19 decreased to 11%, representing the lowest rate recorded for this age group since Health Canada first reported smoking prevalence.

We invested over $650 million to reduce the smoking rate across all ages and partnered with the Canadian Cancer Society, providing it $5 million in partnership to launch the “Break it Off” tobacco cessation campaign to encourage young adults to quit smoking. These were positive concrete steps that were taken to help Canadians lead healthier lives, but Bill S-5 goes in a totally different direction.

As it is currently written, Bill S-5 plans to make two key changes to the Tobacco Act. The first change is to introduce a framework into the Tobacco Act that would regulate vaping products. The second key change is to implement plain packaging requirements for tobacco products.

I understand the stated goal behind Bill S-5 is to protect the health and safety of Canadians and to reduce youth smoking. However, as I read it, the bill quite frankly could do much more harm than good.

As I mentioned, Bill S-5 plans to implement plain packaging regulations that will see the outside packaging for cigarettes standardized as well as the cigarette stick itself. That means there will be no branding whatsoever. As a result, people who choose to smoke will not be able to tell one brand from another, either from the package or from the cigarette. Nor, indeed, will they be able to tell whether they have bought a legal product. In fact, law enforcement agencies will not be able to tell the difference either.

The government claims that this is designed to make the cigarettes less attractive to young people. That will in turn lower the youth smoking rate. I am concerned, on a number of fronts, that this portion of the legislation in particular will have just the opposite result.

My first concern is the impact that the plain packaging regulations could have on the contraband tobacco market in Canada. The reason why this market is a concern is that it is unregulated, unlicensed, and untaxed. Not only does the government lose an estimated $2 billion a year in taxes from the sale of illegal cigarettes, but the money that is made off them is used to fund very highly organized crime in Canada and abroad.

There are parts of our great country where contraband tobacco is big business. In some areas, it is reliably estimated that as much as 80% of cigarettes smoked are contraband. I am not exaggerating in the least when I say that there are also areas where the illegal cross-border trade of cigarettes between Canada and the U.S. is a serious and sometimes even a deadly business. That is how big the stakes are.

What does plain packaging have to do with contraband tobacco? By having a generic package for all cigarettes, it will make it much easier for contraband producers both to counterfeit and also to sell their own product, with little chance of getting caught.

This leads me to a second issue surrounding the safety of Canadians and their right to know what they are ingesting.

As the contraband tobacco market is unregulated, there is no way to determine, much less control, the chemical make-up of its cigarettes. Because the packaging and the cigarette stick will be indistinguishable from one brand to the next, Canadians who choose to smoke will not only be unable to tell whether they are receiving their brand, but they will also be unable to determine whether they are receiving legal, counterfeit, or a contraband product. Since there is no way to control what chemicals are actually in these cigarettes, this could result in negative health impacts for Canadians and cause even more harm instead of reducing it. Believe me, some contraband cigarettes have been known to have some rather nasty stuff in them.

To get back to the government's stated goal of harm reduction, I also have a serious concern regarding the wording within the legislation that bans companies from saying that one product is less harmful than another. For example, the harmful chemicals that enter a person's body when smoking do so mostly once the cigarette is ignited. There are currently products available that simply heat the tobacco instead of igniting it, which significantly reduces exposure to much of the harmful chemicals. These products have been proven to be significant aids to quitting smoking. However, if this legislation passes, Canadians will not even get to know about these products.

The second half of this legislation deals with vaping products, which have also been deemed to be a less harmful alternative to smoking. However, as consumers, Canadians would be unable to know that these products are less harmful for them because of the advertising ban that would ensue if this legislation is passed.

For a bill that is focused on harm reduction, it seems illogical that companies or even Health Canada would not be allowed to educate Canadians if there are less harmful alternatives out there.

In addition, the government claims that switching to plain packaging will decrease the smoking rate. My concern here is twofold. Throughout my research, and through consultation with a number of stakeholders, I have been unable to find reliable statistics that prove that implementing plain packaging reduces the urge for youth to start smoking. In my experience, they do not try smoking because they see a package and think it looks cool. In many parts of Canada, they cannot see the package anyway because by law it is hidden from view in stores. Rather, they try it because their friends are doing it, or because it is easy to access.

We all want to go home for the weekend, so I will spare everyone from going into the litany of problems in this bill, and how it contrasts with what the Liberals are putting forward in their marijuana legislation.

Back to my second concern, which is if we implement plain packaging and end up fuelling the contraband market we could actually see an increase in the rate of youth smoking as a result of accessibility. One of the reasons why contraband tobacco continues to be popular is because of its low cost. In fact, in many areas where contraband tobacco is sold, a person can buy a Baggie of 200 cigarettes for about $10 compared to buying the legal product for well over $100 for the same quantity. People buy the cheaper product to save money.

A lot of young people do not have the means to purchase $100 worth of cigarettes, but they may have the means to purchase cigarettes at $10. Therefore, if the contraband market is allowed to flourish, youth could quite conceivably have even more access to cigarettes as a result of their low cost.

As I said earlier, I understand and I even support the stated goal, but I have very serious issues with the path that the Liberals are taking to get there.

In closing, I ask that the members of this House consider the very real and serious concerns that I have outlined today and take them into consideration when developing their own thoughts about the bill, and that they think of my speech when Bill S-5 is discussed at committee.