When it comes to the legality of electronic cigarettes in Canada, one thing is perfectly clear: nothing is clear!
Call them e-cigarettes, personal vaporizers, e-cigs, e-smokes, or PVs. They are battery-operated electronic devices that “emit doses of vaporized nicotine (or other non-nicotine flavoured vapors) that are inhaled.”
Health Canada is the governmental department that is responsible for the public health of Canadian citizens. Since 2009, Health Canada has required that all importers, merchants, and advertising of e-cigarette products obtain authorization prior to selling and marketing these products. Health Canada grants authorization based on “successful review of scientific evidence demonstrating safety, quality, and efficacy with respect to the intended purpose of the health product… To date, no electronic smoking product has been authorized for sale by Health Canada.”
E-cigarettes currently are regulated as a New Drug and must meet the requirements mandated under the Medical Devices Regulations. Health Canada has stated publicly that is aware of such products being advertised and sold (without proper authorization) in Canada.
The debate as to the safety of e-cigarettes is far from resolved. Smoking and anti-smoking proponents cite various conflicting studies but the only thing that seems to be gleaned from the studies is that it may take an extended period of time before evidence can sufficiently substantiate either side’s claims.
E-cigarettes appeal to people for various reasons. There is always the “cool” factor, more likely important to minors and younger adults. Others find e-cigarettes and vaping a pleasurable experience in addition to traditional smoking. A third group has found that e-cigarettes have been a more effective smoking cessation product than any of the products prescribed or marketed for cessation programs.
As electronic cigarettes Victoria merchants have discovered, and discussed in open forums, there is an inconsistent or illogical enforcement of current laws on e-cigarettes. While e-cigarettes with nicotine may not be sold, selling e-cigarettes or e-juice without nicotine is legal. Adding to the overall confusion is the fact that individuals may legally use e-cigarettes.
Electronic cigarettes Canada manufacturers straddle the grey line that Health Canada and the government have created. One Canadian manufacturer has not been particularly pressured, according to the company’s co-founder, “because it’s actually marketed as a chemical consumer product, not as a health-care product.”
Electronic cigarettes Vancouver vendors are among those who have received the “cease-and-desist” pressure letters from Health Canada, “in an effort to bring them into compliance with the laws.” But without firm laws regulating or banning them, it appears that e-cigarettes will remain in the grey zone for some time to come.
Ultimately, consumers must weigh the risks and benefits and do their best to make an informed decision about e-cigarettes. Good luck.