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.