Hon. Jane Cordy:
Honourable senators, thank you all very much, I think. It had better be a good question, I guess, after your kind applause.
Senator Harder, along with our colleagues, Senator Petitclerc, Senator Martin and Senator Seidman, who asked questions on Tuesday, I’m also greatly concerned about the reports of the increase in vaping by young people.
When we debated it and passed the Tobacco and Vaping Products Act, the benefits of vaping as a smoking cessation option were highlighted, and indeed I highlighted that in the two speeches I made in this chamber. However, I believe in hindsight, which is always 20/20, that the use of vaping is introducing a whole new demographic to nicotine consumption. I believe that was underestimated in our debate in this chamber.
What is alarming is that the nicotine and vaping products permitted under the current Tobacco and Vaping Products Act regulation may be more than five times the dose of nicotine deemed to be highly toxic to a child; this comes from Ottawa Public Health. That means that e-cigarette devices can deliver nicotine at greater concentrations than combustible cigarettes.
So my question is: Since young people are becoming addicted to nicotine and vaping products, to the point where I have heard from a doctor that some young people are unable to sit through their high school classes without leaving to vape, what is being done to strengthen the regulations on the labelling of vaping products and to restrict the nicotine limits of vaping products?
Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): Again, I thank the honourable senator for her question. I would simply repeat what I said in response to the previous questions.
First of all, I think that we all, when we dealt with the legislation, were concerned where the balance would be between vaping as a cessation tool and vaping as an entry tool. What we have had the benefit of in the last number of months and years is increased study to provide the informed basis on which regulatory measures are being contemplated and put into force.
As I reported, those regulatory discussions with the health care community and the medical community are under way, and the minister has this as an early and high priority.
Senator Cordy: Thank you. Currently, there is a regulatory void across the country, and what is happening is that the provinces and municipalities are scrambling to fill the void. My province of Nova Scotia, for example, has just banned flavoured products for vaping.
So my question is: When can we expect Health Canada to take a leadership role on this and to present the public with a fulsome, national regulatory framework so that we’re not going to have a smattering of different regulations across the country?
Senator Harder: Again, as I indicated the other day, this is an early and high priority, and the minister intends on moving forward at the earliest appropriate opportunity.