ECTA and THRA have been engaged in discussions with Government Relations firms and professionals over the past two weeks. We have completed one conference call, and expect a full written proposal by end of day. Another conference call is scheduled for today (Thursday), and we hope to have a second proposal by Friday. A conference call with the third firm may not be possible until after the Christmas break. We have also consulted with a number of internationally recognized experts such as David Sweanor, and Dr.Farsalinos, et al who have stated that they will provide additional input and support. The intent is to receive a full proposal from three firms specializing in government relations and to jointly choose which proposal to accept. ECTA and THRA are of one mind, immediate professional action is required in order to change Section 3. By mid-January, we will have GR representation targeted towards key individuals involved in the creation of Bill 45. A full strategy and plan of action will be completed in consultation with the chosen GR firm, and other influential professionals. Industry and Consumer based proposals are near completion, however, nothing will be released or proposed without the full review and input of the selected GR firm. We will make as much information public as possible, also based on professional advice.
As a recap, the details of Bill 45 contains three different schedules of legislative items:
- Schedule 1 – Healthy Menu Choices Act, 2014
- Schedule 2 – Smoke-Free Ontario Act
- Schedule 3 – Electronic Cigarettes Act, 2014
After a quick review, Schedule 3 appears to be a replica of existing Tobacco Legislation. At a high level, we have determined that the most significant impact on our industry includes (but is not limited to):
- No Sales to Under 19 (one agreeable point)
- No Displays of Electronic Cigarette hardware
- No Displays of E-Liquid (with or without nicotine)
- No Listing of flavours
- No Showing consumers how to use or troubleshoot the devices
- No Vaping in Vape Shops, thus no Vape Lounges
- No Ontario Based Online Sales (Questionable but it is Display and Promotion)
- No Indoor Vape Meets in Public Spaces (Even if private club, a paid venue or rented space)
- No Vaping in vehicle with persons under 16 years old
Nothing about this Act appears to be evidence or science based but rather a proposal of legislation based on emotion. It actually looks as if the Tobacco legislation was copied and a few words where added or changed. Looking like smoke is not a valid argument to propose legislation. It is completely inappropriate. We encourage anyone to read through the proposed bill, not just the bullet points of the news release, and ask questions.
What is even more confusing is why the Ontario Government is pushing to implement this legislation now when the Standing Committee on Health (HESA) is in the middle of conducting an E-Cigs study per Health Minister directive for the purpose of presenting a proposed federal regulatory framework. They are creating work for themselves that they may not need to do, depending on what comes out at the Federal level.
A couple of positive points that we see within this proposal are:
- No sales to those under 19 years of age. We have been calling for this since ECTAs foundation and it is already a requirement of our members
- Being placed within an act separate from the Tobacco Act. Although it appears to be a Template of the Tobacco Act, it is not the tobacco act which will allow changes that will affect only Electronic Cigarettes. We are not subject to the ramifications of Tobacco Act changes.
We can (and will) not allow this Bill to go unchallenged. It is absolutely critical that you contact your MPP, immediately by telephone and/or email and express your concerns. Your letter/email does not need to be long or loaded with information and links to studies. It should be simple and to the point about how it affects you, such as:
Dear Honourable [MPP],
My name is [your name] and I [your story of e-cigs]
When I look at Bill 45, Schedule 3, my [fear/concern] [state your thoughts] [if you think this legislation will force you and/or others back to tobacco cigarettes, say it]
[Your Signature Block]