House of Commons Hansard #253 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was packaging.


Foreign Affairs and International DevelopmentCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.


Bob Nault Liberal Kenora, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 14th report of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development entitled “Moving the Relationship Forward: NAFTA Modernization and North American Trilateral Cooperation”. Pursuant to Standing Order 109, the committee requests that the government table a comprehensive response to this report.

As we have seen, NAFTA is a very important issue. We want to thank the minister and the government for their hard work.

Falun GongPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.


Garnett Genuis Conservative Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, AB

Mr. Speaker, we recently had a comment from Canada's ambassador to China that Canada has more in common, in terms of certain values, with China than with the U.S. With that in mind, I want to table a petition recognizing the ongoing persecution of religious minorities in China, in particular members of the Falun Gong movement.

Tobacco ProductsPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.


Simon Marcil Bloc Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to present petition e-1237, signed by 10,251 people who want to halt Bill S-5 to ensure it will contain a separate category of tobacco products for the vaping industry.

Religious FreedomPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.


Cathay Wagantall Conservative Yorkton—Melville, SK

Mr. Speaker, I have a petition that calls on the House to amend section 241 of the Criminal Code, medical assistance in dying, and the Civil Marriage Act, to provide Christians and their faith-based institutions protection from its provisions that are contrary to their religious and conscience beliefs. It also calls on the House to enact a policy to provide a review of any legislation that may be brought forth in the future by the government to ensure it does not impinge on the religious rights of Christians.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba


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

Mr. Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

The Speaker

Is that agreed?

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Some hon. members


Statements by Minister of Revenue Regarding the Disability Tax Credit—Speaker's RulingPrivilegeRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.


The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

On December 5, 2017, the hon. member for Calgary Rocky Ridge raised a question of privilege concerning allegedly misleading statements made by the Minister of National Revenue.

I would like to thank the member for Calgary Rocky Ridge for raising this matter, as well as the Minister of National Revenue, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, the member for New Westminster—Burnaby, and the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands for their comments, which assisted me in assessing the prima facie merits of this question of privilege.

The member for Calgary Rocky Ridge explained that some responses to oral questions made by the Minister of National Revenue regarding disability credit eligibility criteria contradicted information found in an internal departmental memo obtained through an access to information request. The member explained that the minister had repeatedly said that the disability credit eligibility criteria had not changed nor were there any changes to the way the law is interpreted. However, in the member’s opinion, the departmental memo showed otherwise. This, he contended, was proof that the minister had deliberately misled the House.

He then raised this matter again on December 11, adding that comments by the minister’s parliamentary secretary in a recent media interview were further proof of this allegation.

In turn, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons noted that, as the minister's statements were neither inaccurate nor contradictory, the requisite conditions for determining that the House had been misled have not been met. Thus, he concluded that this is simply a matter of debate.

The Minister of National Revenue rose in the House on December 12, and maintained the validity of her previous statements to the House on this matter. However, she did concede that the internal departmental memo in question, even though she argued it did not outline a change to the eligibility criteria, may have had unintended consequences in contributing to confusion. For that, the minister apologized.

Before addressing the matter at hand, I would like to remind members of the conditions involved in raising a question of privilege.

House of Commons Procedure and Practice, second edition, at page 141, states:

First, the Speaker must be convinced that a prima facie case of breach of privilege has been made and, second, the matter must be raised at the earliest opportunity.

There is a tacit understanding that, if a matter goes to the heart of a member's or the House's privileges and immunities, or that contempt is involved, it is of the highest importance and should be addressed urgently. House of Commons Procedure and Practice, second edition, at page 143, reminds us that:

...the Member must satisfy the Speaker that he or she is bringing the matter to the attention of the House as soon as practicable after becoming aware of the situation. When a Member has not fulfilled this important requirement, the Speaker has ruled that the matter is not a prima facie question of privilege.

This, of course, is in addition to the need for members to provide a written statement to the Speaker at least one hour before rising in the House.

When examining a charge that a member has deliberately misled the House, the Speaker is strictly limited with respect to what can and cannot be considered. As recently as November 20, 2017, at page 15325 of the Debates, I reiterated the following:

Members know well that in any case in which the veracity of what a member of the House has said is called into question, the Chair's role is very limited to the review of the statements made in a proceeding of Parliament. In other words, the Chair cannot comment on what transpires outside of the deliberations of the House or its committees.

Speaker Milliken also upheld this important principle on February 10, 2011, at page 8030 of the Debates, stating that:

…the Chair is bound by very narrow parameters in situations such as this one. It may sound overly technical but the reality is that when adjudicating cases of this kind, the Chair is obliged to reference material fully and properly before the House.

As has been acknowledged, in examining this case, involving a series of statements by the minister, there are three necessary conditions to be met: the statements must be misleading; the member must know when making them that they are incorrect; and, finally, there must be proof that the member intended to mislead the House by making the statement.

In reviewing the statements made by the minister, which is all that the Chair is able to assess in this instance, I am unable to find evidence that they were deliberately misleading when measured against the threshold set by the House.

This is in addition to our long-standing practice of accepting members at their word, something I am bound to do. As my predecessor stated on April 29, 2015, at page 13198 of the Debates:

…as your Speaker, I must take all members at their word. To do otherwise, to take it upon myself to assess the truthfulness or accuracy of members' statements is not a role which has been conferred on me, nor that the House has indicated that it would somehow wish the Chair to assume, with all of its implications.

Consequently, for these reasons, I cannot find that a prima facie question of privilege exists.

That being said, this situation should serve as a pointed reminder of the need for clear and accurate exchanges of information in the House. Members' inalienable right to clarity and consistency in the information they receive underpins their ability to carry out properly their responsibilities as legislators and representatives. Any information that fails to support this right and obligation is in essence a disservice to all members.

I thank all hon. members for their attention.

The House resumed from November 3, 2017 consideration of the motion that Bill S-5, an act to amend the Tobacco Act and the Non-smokers’ Health Act and to make consequential amendments to other acts, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Tobacco and Vaping Products ActGovernment Orders

10:15 a.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba


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

10:35 a.m.


Marilyn Gladu Conservative Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Madam Speaker, I agree with many of the things my colleague opposite said about the vaping industry, the need for regulation, and the importance of including all the different technologies that have come out, such as nicotine sticks that are not being smoked but are burned.

I wonder if he was aware that France and Japan, two countries that have implemented plain packaging, have come out with commentary. The health minister in France said that they know that plain packaging does not lead smokers to stop smoking and concluded that unfortunately, this program did not reduce the sale of cigarettes. Japan has called the program a failure and is calling to end the policy. I do not know if the member was aware or could comment.

Tobacco and Vaping Products ActGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.


Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Madam Speaker, what I am aware of is that Australia is virtually leading the way in regard to the idea of standardized and plain packaging. There is a consensus among many stakeholders here in Canada, both health and other professionals, who are looking at the impact of plain and standard packaging. Many a study has been done, and we have seen that it has had a positive impact compared to previous packaging. This is the next step. I would suggest that there is much room for improvement. To move toward standard packaging is something that would, in fact, be effective and would deter young people from getting engaged in cigarette smoking. Therefore, I support that aspect. As Australia has demonstrated, it is the right thing to be doing at this time.

Tobacco and Vaping Products ActGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.


Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Madam Speaker, the New Democrats believe that this is incredibly important legislation. We know that tobacco in this country kills. Cigarettes and products are carcinogens and are highly addictive. Therefore, we need this legislation to pass as soon as possible. I am disappointed to see that the government side is putting up exactly one speaker to represent the 180-plus Liberal MPs. I do not think that speaks to the importance of this issue.

We know that 115,000 Canadians start smoking every year, and 82% of them start before they are 18. We know that one-third of those people will die of a smoking-related illness. Even though the current government's mandate to bring in this kind of legislation was in 2015, we are now in 2018. During the time the government has stalled, probably close to 300,000 Canadians have started smoking, most of them young people, and many of those kids are going to die because the government took over two and a half years to get this legislation before this House.

Given that Australia brought in this legislation in 2012, given that France, the U.K., and Hungary brought in this legislation in 2016, what took the current government over two years to bring in this legislation that would regulate a product that we know is going to kill Canadians from coast to coast?

Tobacco and Vaping Products ActGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.


Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Madam Speaker, we have a government that has worked with the different stakeholders. The New Democrats often think that on day one we introduce all the legislation we can and then in the following two days it passes. That is not the way things work. This government had a consultation period to work with the different stakeholders. I believe eight provinces already have some form of legislation. It takes time to develop the legislation itself. To try to give the impression that this is not a priority for the government is just wrong. It is a priority issue for this government. That is why for well over a year, we have been working with the many different stakeholders, the ones who have the expertise, and bringing forward legislation.

The member said we should be passing the legislation, and he would like to see all the members of the Liberal caucus and possibly in the opposition speak to the legislation, which would in essence keep it being debated for the next two years.

At the end of the day, we believe it is good, solid legislation that would have a very positive impact on the young people of our country and all of society. We hope the NDP will support the legislation, because it is ultimately in the best interest of all.

Tobacco and Vaping Products ActGovernment Orders

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


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

10:40 a.m.


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

10:40 a.m.


Dan Albas Conservative Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola, BC

Madam Speaker, plain packaging itself could create an opportunity for contraband tobacconists to go onto Health Canada's website, download the plain packaging, and use the same template other companies use. The only thing we have heard that would stop a Canadian from purchasing that product, and not knowing that it was a contraband product, would be the CRA excise stamp that is put on legal products. The problem we run into is that the industry has actually found cases where the CRA stamp has been found on contraband baggies of tobacco.

If the member opposite believes that plain packaging is a good step forward, how does he address the issue of the illegal use of the excise seal, which is supposed to protect Canadians from contraband tobacco products?

Tobacco and Vaping Products ActGovernment Orders

10:40 a.m.


Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Madam Speaker, I am not convinced that having a standard package versus what we currently have is going to increase contraband cigarette sales.

I do not believe the argument the member has put forward. I believe that by having standard packaging we will see fewer young people actually engaging in smoking. That is what I believe. That is why I would encourage my colleague and friend across the way to think about how we can reduce the number of young people smoking. As has been illustrated, it is our young people who are engaging in tobacco or cigarette smoking.

If we could prevent a greater number of young people from starting to smoke, society would be a lot better off, not only in terms of health and social aspects but in terms of the economic point of view. We would all win. Standard packaging is a positive step forward. I do not believe for a moment that it will have a negative impact in terms of contraband sales.

Tobacco and Vaping Products ActGovernment Orders

10:45 a.m.


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

11:05 a.m.

Vancouver Quadra B.C.


Joyce Murray LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the President of the Treasury Board

Madam Speaker, I thank my opposition colleague for his thoughtful comments, and I would like to say how sorry I am to hear about how tobacco has affected his family.

He said it would be best if young people chose not to use either tobacco or vaping products, but we know that is not realistic because young people want to make their own choices. Since some of them will choose to vape, should the government opt for strict regulation or should it try to stop people from using vaping products altogether?

Tobacco and Vaping Products ActGovernment Orders

11:05 a.m.


Luc Berthold Conservative Mégantic—L'Érable, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for her kind words and her sympathy.

Obviously, I am not alone. Many of us here have a friend or loved one who was diagnosed with a tobacco-related disease. That is not easy for anyone. That is why we have an important role to play here and now.

We definitely need to regulate tobacco product use by young people. We need to make tobacco products seem even less appealing. Over the past few years, initiatives introduced by the previous government have reduced youth tobacco use significantly. I do not have the numbers off the top of my head, but I am sure somebody will share them with us today.

We need to keep working on prevention so that young people never start using these products. Tobacco and vaping products that contain nicotine or marijuana should be off limits for our young people. None of them should be using those products. Yes, they have to be regulated, but prevention campaigns aimed at teaching young people that these products are bad for them are important too.

Tobacco and Vaping Products ActGovernment Orders

11:05 a.m.


Anne Minh-Thu Quach NDP Salaberry—Suroît, QC

Madam Speaker, I want to thank my colleague for his speech on preventing youth from starting to use tobacco products and stopping them from developing addictions and possibly dying from tobacco-related illness.

However, his speech seemed somewhat ambivalent to me. He acknowledged that prevention can keep youth from taking up smoking, yet in 2015, we saw an increase in the number of youth who had started smoking. Almost four million teens between the ages of 15 and 19 had already tried an electronic cigarette once.

Does my colleague not think it is past time we implemented this bill? That would help reduce vaping and smoking among youth, because there would be plain-packaging regulations.

Of course, we could go even further than what the bill proposes. We could follow France in banning all positive depictions of smoking. This bill does not yet include such a provision, but it is a good start, at least.

In 2015, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Health released a report with 14 recommendations, including one to establish a legislative framework for regulating vaping products. There has already been a study, yet a new study is being done. Does my colleague not think it is time to start implementing all of these recommendations to reduce the number of young people who will start using tobacco products and save them from the inevitable disease and death?

Tobacco and Vaping Products ActGovernment Orders

11:10 a.m.


Luc Berthold Conservative Mégantic—L'Érable, QC

Madam Speaker, indeed, we must do everything we can as quickly as possible to prevent young people from starting to smoke, whether it is tobacco, vaping products, or marijuana. I completely agree. There was nothing ambivalent about my comments. On the contrary, I believe that we have to be concerned about this and take action.

However, is this the right thing to do? Experts do not agree on that. Does vaping pose less health risks than smoking for someone who wants to stop smoking? Should we allow vaping to help young people stop smoking? Are we really going to stop young people from smoking by changing a label, even though we know that they already buy cigarettes on the black market, cigarettes that are generally not branded and whose contents we know nothing about?

As MPs, it is our responsibility to create better regulations to make these products less accessible. I am not one of those people who believe that we will reduce consumption by legalizing this and creating all kinds of regulations. We have to make people understand that it is dangerous. They have to accept this and we must put in place various measures to prevent people from starting to smoke and to help them quit. Instead of spending weeks on trying to regulate this and finding a way to legalize it so we supposedly have greater control, we have to strike at the root of the problem.

Tobacco and Vaping Products ActGovernment Orders

11:10 a.m.


Tom Kmiec Conservative Calgary Shepard, AB

Madam Speaker, I thank the member for Mégantic—L'Érable for his speech.

I think the bill contains a drafting error or perhaps poor wording. In division 3, subclause 30.21(1) on testimonials or endorsements reads as follows:

No person shall promote a vaping product through a testimonial or an endorsement, however displayed or communicated, including by means of the packaging.

However, we have heard testimonials from people who successfully used vaping to quit smoking. I know of one such example in my riding. I will read it in English, because I am quoting one of my constituents.

“I wanted to tell you my story to let you know that vaping has saved my life. I am 36 years old and had smoked cigarettes for 19 years until I started vaping.” He then goes on to describe why he stopped. He said, “One day I noticed my daughter colouring. She picked up one of her markers and pretended it was a cigarette and said she needed a smoke. When I saw that, I knew it was time to quit.”

I would like to hear the member's thoughts on that part of the bill, which prohibits promoting a vaping product through testimonials. Jordan, my constituent, sets a perfect example for people who currently smoke but might be able to quit if they were to hear this account of someone who was able to quit smoking thanks to vaping.

What does my Conservative colleague think of this example?

Tobacco and Vaping Products ActGovernment Orders

11:10 a.m.


Luc Berthold Conservative Mégantic—L'Érable, QC

Madam Speaker, that is a very good question.

If vaping can indeed help people quit smoking then it should be used for that purpose. Again, the amount of nicotine in e-cigarettes needs to be regulated. Currently, it is not. That has to be better regulated. If vaping can be prescribed to help people quit smoking, then that is great. The ultimate goal is to have fewer people smoking and addicted to nicotine.

The problem is that scientists are divided. They cannot seem to agree either way. Is vaping good? Is it less harmful than cigarettes? Some say we must allow vaping because it helps people quit smoking, but others say we should not promote any type of cigarette that might entice some people to smoke.

I do not have a clear answer for this. However, if vaping under supervision can help people quit smoking, then it is hard to argue with that.