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Rowan warr-hunter: e-cigarettes — freedom to vape

Eu regulations promote contraband cigarettes

If you want to understand what life is like for the Canadian entrepreneurs who are seeking to serve the growing demand for electronic cigarettes, consider me. My family and I own an online vaping business, along with a brick and mortar store located in Trenton, Ont.

There are four of us involved in the operation, with a total of 90 years of smoking traditional cigarettes between us. All of us have been smoke free for close to three years since we started vaping. Each one of us had tried every available cessation product on the market (medications, patches, gum, inhalers, cold turkey, hypnosis and acupuncture) with zero success at leaving cigarettes behind. One by one, we each switched to electronic cigarettes, and one by one each of us tossed out our ashtrays and lighters in favour of batteries and clearomizers. We were so impressed with our own success that we opened our business in 2012.

In December, our business received a letter from Health Canada entitled, Illegal sale of Nicotine E Liquid Products, informing us that the e liquid products we offer for sale (which users load into their e cigarettes) may contain nicotine and therefore may be in violation of the Food and Drugs Act and its regulations.

One by one, people in my family switched to electronic cigarettes. One by one, each of us tossed out our ashtrays and lighters in favour of batteries and clearomizers

The letter made a request for us to supply Health Canada with a list of all brand name electronic smoking products that we are importing and selling, as well as the name and address of establishments to which we have distributed e liquids. They also requested the ingredient list for each brand we carry, a copy of the product labels and written confirmation that our establishment has ceased importing, advertising, distributing and selling e liquids containing nicotine or other drugs.

Many vendors across Canada have received similar letters, and continue to receive them. Health Canada is effectively trying to put us out of business.

As vendors in Canada, we also are experiencing delays in hardware coming into the country, as well as delays in the distribution of food flavourings, clearomizers and the like. Vendors are struggling to keep stock while Canadian customs agents hold incoming orders for Health Canada to inspect for weeks or months at a time this despite the fact that hardware and general electronics does not fall under the scope of Health Canada s regulatory authority.


  • Ban on nicotine loaded e cigarettes aggressively enforced while some anti smoking advocates call for legalization
  • Proposed ban of too realistic e cigarettes by European Union draws ire of proponents of nicotine devices

The Electronic Cigarette Trade Association (ECTA) of Canada and its members have reached out time and again to try to engage Health Canada in discussions on how to properly regulate electronic cigarettes, to no avail. To date, no ECTA member has received a follow up letter in response to their replies to Health Canada warnings. What we do receive is another version, or a variation, of the same letter the next year. This has created a similar situation to that in the United States in 2010 The FDA was sued, and lost in court, for stopping electronic cigarette shipments. The courts repeatedly ruled that these products do not fall under the agency’s regulatory authority.

In our case, we replied to Health Canada with a registered letter, declining their request, because, according to their own Prescription Drug List, nicotine in the concentrations found in electronic cigarette vapour is exempt. ECTA has funded a study, conducted at a Health Canada accredited lab, which shows the amount of nicotine delivered by electronic cigarettes falls well below the 4 mg threshold set out by the government.

Which means that nicotine is legal for Canadians to buy, sell and use without a prescription in the designated forms, as long as there are no health or cessation claims made by the business selling them. (We do not market our products as smoking cessation devices, and advance no particular health claims.)

In the absence of proper regulation from the government, ECTA and its members have created an industry standard by applying all of the laws that are present in Canada to include regular testing of liquids in a Health Canada accredited lab, and product labelling as set out in the Consumer Chemicals and Containers Regulations. All ECTA members enforce age of majority sales policies, both online and at retail locations. While Health Canada is telling Canadians that not enough is known about electronic cigarettes, ECTA continues to fund more testing, and is working with Canadian tobacco harm reduction expert Paul Bergen.

Contrary to Health Canada s statements on the issue, numerous studies on e cigarettes have been done worldwide including by Dr. Konstantinos Farsalinos of the Department of Cardiology at the Onassis Cardiac Surgery Center in Athens, and Boston University School of Public Health professor Michael Siegel.

Roughly 40,000 people in Canada will die from tobacco related diseases this year, yet Health Canada is choosing not to study, or promote, this smokeless alternative

Over the past few years, we have heard just about every argument, both for and against electronic cigarettes. But we think the most compelling is the basic idea of tobacco harm reduction Those who vape are reducing the amount of harm they are doing to themselves, and those around them, simply by finding a new nicotine delivery system that doesn t involve inhaling the by products of burning plant matter.

Electronic cigarettes are vaporizers. They vaporize liquid, which is made from a mixture of vegetable glycerine, propylene glycol, food grade flavouring and (if desired) nicotine. Compare this to the numerous known cancer causing chemicals in tobacco smoke that Canadian adults can freely purchase across the country. The smokeless devices I sell deliver just four ingredients that tens of thousands of people already are using across Canada.

Roughly 40,000 people in Canada will die from tobacco related diseases this year, yet Health Canada is choosing not to study, or promote, this smokeless alternative. Instead, they are harassing and threatening the small Canadian business owners who are trying to make a living by selling a legal product that simply gives people a choice.

National Post

Rowan Warr Hunter sells electronic cigarettes and accessories at , where the motto is Life doesn t have to be a drag.