Canadian tobacco exec pushes back against vaping health concerns

A warning from Interior Health about the unknown health risks of vaping is getting a partial rebuke

A warning from Interior Health about the unknown health risks of vaping as an alternative to smoking cigarettes has drawn a partial rebuke from a tobacco company executive.

Sebastien Charbonneau, director of government affairs with Imperial Tobacco based out of Montreal, said based on current research knowledge, vaping is a proven less harmful alternative to satisfying your nicotine fit without lighting up a cigarette.

He cited studies done in England and by Health Canada supporting that position, recognizing that vaping or e-cigarettes can play a role in the tobacco harm reduction goals shared by many countries, including Canada.

Charbonneau was responding to comments from the Interior Health tobacco reduction coordinator, saying the health authority has concerns about exposure to vaping for adults and young people, and noting vaping does not have provincial approval as a cessation method to quit smoking.

“There is a general understanding that the combustion factor, generating the smoke that is generated by a tobacco cigarette, is far more harmful than inhaling a vapour,” Charbonneau countered.

He acknowledged, however, that because the e-cigarette products are relatively new, there is a lack of long-term research to back up initial vaping safety study conclusions on both sides of the debate.

Related: E-cigarette health hazards remain unknown

“The health hazards over a longer time period remain unknown, that is for sure as these are new products,” Charbonneau said. “But that being said, there is quite a bit of credible research out there to indicate vaping is less harmful to your health than smoking.”

Electronic cigarettes are battery-powered devices that heat a liquid solution, which may or may not include nicotine, into a vapour that is inhaled, or “vaped,” by the user.

The devices have grown in popularity on the basis of the belief they present fewer health risks that tobacco cigarettes and offer a path to eventually quit smoking.

The concern about e-cigarettes is the toxins in the variety of vaping juices in the marketplace, many with added food flavourings, that may create other health hazards not yet fully understood.

Interior Health has not approved e-cigarettes as a smoking cessation aid, the same position that has been adopted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. To date, testing the effectiveness of e-cigarettes for smoking cessation has provided limited research evidence to change that policy in North America.

Charbonneau says Imperial Tobacco, a wholly owned subsidiary of the British American Tobacco, the largest publicly traded tobacco company in the world, is part of a $2.5 billion global industry research legacy effort to find less risky product alternatives to smoking.

Related: Ottawa ushers in new rules for e-cigarettes

“Our purpose is to offer consumers choice. For adults, if they choose to smoke we provide that product, but for people looking for less risky alternatives, we feel vaping and other related products meet that demand. Ultimately, we leave it up to consumers to make the decisions that they feel are best for them,” Charbonneau said.

“The zero risk approach would be to quit smoking altogether, but for many people that is not an option so we want to offer them other less harmful choices.”

He said Imperial Tobacco is supportive of marketing restrictions imposed by the federal government about marketing vaping products to youth, product content labelling,and the need to ensure vaping juice containers are child-proof secure like any prescription bottle.

“We fully agree vapour products should only be consumed by adults,” he said.

Medical News Today recent reported that a U.S. study found that teenagers who had used e-cigarettes had three times the amount of toxic compounds in their bodies compared to teenagers who had never vaped, while another scientific study suggests that the heating coils in e-cigarettes may be the source of those high toxic level compounds rather than the vaping solutions themselves.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit of British Columbia’s (CFSEU-BC) Uniform Gang Enforcement Team (UGET) has arrested a man who was on the run for nearly a decade. (File photo)
9-year search for international drug trafficking suspect ends with arrest at YVR

Khamla Wong, charged in 2012, taken into custody Feb. 24 by BC-CFSEU

Cheryl Roberts said she's having to consider putting down her cat, Burley, because she can't afford his dental surgery. (Cheryl Roberts photo)
COVID impact on Langley woman’s finances puts her kitty’s future in jeopardy

A Langley woman said money was tight before COVID and now she struggles to afford vet care

Maple Ridge and Langley Township have made the Smart21 list.
Virtual conference co-hosts Maple Ridge and Langley Township make list of Smart21

21 communities shortlisted for Intelligent Community of the Year after online event

Clean Up Aldergrove will be picking litter on 200 Street this Sunday, Feb. 28. (Special to The Star)
Organizer of litter clean-up event in Langley looking for volunteers

Earth Ninja group will be tackling 200th Street on Sunday, Feb. 28, from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature. (B.C. government)
B.C. reports 10 additional deaths, 395 new COVID-19 cases

The majority of new coronavirus infections were in the Fraser Health region

A new survey has found that virtual visits are British Columbian’s preferred way to see the doctor amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Unsplash)
Majority of British Columbians now prefer routine virtual doctor’s visits: study

More than 82% feel virtual health options reduce wait times, 64% think they lead to better health

Carolyn Howe, a kindergarten teacher and vice president of the Greater Victoria Teachers’ Association, says educators are feeling the strain of the COVID-19 pandemic and the influx of pressure that comes with it. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)
Stress leave, tears and insomnia: Island teachers feel the strain of COVID-19

Teachers still adjusting to mask and cleaning rules, pressures from outside and within

Captain and Maria, a pair of big and affectionate akbash dogs, must be adopted together because they are so closely bonded. (SPCA image)
Shuswap SPCA seeks forever home for inseparable Akbash dogs

A fundraiser to help medical expenses for Captain and Maria earned over 10 times its goal

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Cory Mills, Eric Blackmore and A.J. Jensen, all 20, drown in the Sooke River in February 2020. (Contributed photos)
Coroner confirms ‘puddle jumping’ in 2020 drowning deaths of 3 B.C. men

Cory Mills, Eric Blackmore and A.J. Jensen pulled into raging river driving through nearby flooding

Castlegar doctor Megan Taylor contracted COVID-19 in November. This photo was taken before the pandemic. Photo: Submitted
Kootenay doctor shares experience contracting COVID-19

Castlegar doctor shares her COVID experience

Shaelene Keeler Bell. (Facebook)
Candlelight vigil planned for Chilliwack mother missing for four weeks

Virtual event to ‘spread some light’ for 23-year-old Shaelene Bell of Chilliwack

Ashley Paxman, 29, is in the ICU after being struck by a vehicle along Highway 97 Feb. 18, 2021. She remains in critical condition. (GoFundMe)
Okanagan woman in ICU with broken bones in face after being struck by car

She remains in serious condition following Feb. 18 incident

Most Read