Bill S5 Third Reading

Bill S5 Third Reading

Hon. Chantal Petitclerc moved the third reading 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, as amended.

The full Hansard of the third reading and debate from May 10th can be found here: English – French

Audio recording: May 10 2017

Speakers were:

  • Senator Petitclerc
  • Senator Seidman
  • Senator Martin (Deputy Leader of the Opposition)
  • Senator Mégie
  • Senator Dean

Remarks by Senator Petitclerc – Flavours

Honourable senators, early on during the committee hearings we were able to set the record straight on this point. The blends of chemicals that create certain popular flavours, like blueberry cheesecake, for example, and apple pie, would not be prohibited by Bill S-5. Let’s be clear: Bill S-5 would prohibit the promotion of flavours that appeal to youth.

Even with this clarification, some witnesses expressed the view that the potential for desserts or other similar flavours to appeal to youth was not a good enough reason for prohibiting their promotion. These witnesses indicated that it was important for users of vaping products to have accurate descriptions of the flavours they would be purchasing.

It is clear that vaping products are still harmful and addictive, and especially to youth. At the same time, they may be beneficial to the health of smokers if vaping products help them quit smoking or switch completely to a less harmful source of nicotine. This is why this approach on flavour is exactly the right thing to do. This is what some people would call a win-win situation. Adults get their flavours; youth stay protected.

As ECTA stated in both our presentation to the SOCI committee, and our written submission, protecting youth and providing adults with accurate product information are not mutually exclusive. It remains our position that the amendment we requested would have achieved the same level of youth protection, while allowing the communication of accurate flavour descriptions within age restricted vape shops.

Requested amendment from the ECTA submission:

30.48 (1) No person shall promote a vaping product set out in column 2 of Schedule 3, including by means of the packaging, through an indication or illustration, including a brand element, that could cause a person to believe that the product has a flavour set out in column 1, in a place to which young persons have access.

Sections 30.41, 30.45, and 30.46 will ensure that this change would only permit customer access to descriptions in schedule 3 via age restricted vapour product shops. Regulations can further define the manner in which these descriptions may be provided.

Remarks by Senator Petitclerc – Sharing scientific information on vaping

Some of you may be wondering why, as some people have said, Bill S-5 limits the sharing of scientific information that might help convince smokers to switch to a less harmful source of nicotine.

Honourable senators, I can assure you that that is not the case. Bill S-5 does not prohibit the publication of scientific work in regard to vaping products. What Bill S-5 prohibits is using scientific work as a means of commercial promotion marketing that is directed at consumers.

This means that the vaping industry can share, and hopefully will share, legitimate scientific reports about vaping products in their entirety with their clients, but they cannot use parts of a scientific report as a marketing or promotional tool for their product. That seems fair and balanced to me.

Some of you may be reassured by that point but may be wondering why Bill S-5 would prohibit the vaping industry from telling their clients that vaping, while harmful, is less harmful than smoking. We certainly did hear that concern from vaping consumer advocates, the vaping industry and some public health experts.

In fact, Dr. John Britton, a professor at the University of Nottingham and the Director of the United Kingdom’s Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies, specifically requested the opportunity to provide testimony on Bill S-5, because of the clause that would prohibit making comparisons between the use of vaping products and smoking. Dr. Britton indicated that he thought it was a “no-brainer” to switch from smoking to a less hazardous product.

Dr. David Hammond from the School of Public Health and Health Systems at the University of Waterloo also noted that there is ample evidence to state right now that vaporized products will be less harmful than smoked tobacco products. But he also stressed that they are liable to produce harm.

Both of these academics indicated support for the vaping industry to be able to include strictly regulated comparative claims on their vaping products, like “Harmful but less harmful than smoking.”

This expert opinion convinced me, as it convinced many of my colleagues, which is why I was pleased to bring forward an amendment to Bill S-5 to address this concern. This amendment was adopted by the committee.

Authorized comparative claims on vaping products will be defined during the regulation development stage. This process cannot begin until the bill has been passed and receives Royal Assent. The development of regulations is expected to include public and stakeholder consultation.

The Senate adjourned until Thursday, May 11, 2017

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