Posted on Jun 11, 2020
SHANDRO DISREGARDED THE ADVICE OF DR. HINSHAW, GAVE BIG TOBACCO EVERYTHING THEY WANTED IN VAPING LEGISLATION
EDMONTON -- Alberta’s NDP released documents Thursday that show public health officials including Chief Medical Officer Dr. Deena Hinshaw provided advice to ban flavoured vaping products and restrict nicotine content.
But Bill 19, the Tobacco and Smoking Reduction Amendment Act, stops short of action already taken in several other Canadian provinces and other countries.
This shows that UCP Health Minister Tyler Shandro disregarded the written advice provided by Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, and caved to the demands of big tobacco in drafting his bill.
If passed, Bill 19 will create rules for vaping in Alberta that are largely in line with current tobacco regulation.
On January 22 of 2020, Dr. Deena Hinshaw co-signed a statement urging the federal and provincial governments to “ban all flavoured vaping products and then provide regulatory exemptions or market authorizations for a minimum set of flavours to support smokers who choose to use vaping to end or reduce their use of nicotine-containing products” and to “limit the nicotine content in vaping products, including pods, to a maximum of 20mg/ml.”
In addition in a May 25, 2019 submission to Health Canada, Alberta Health Services under the stewardship of Health Minister Tyler Shandro wrote that vaping regulations should “include a prohibition on all flavours,” with the only exception being flavours (e.g. tobacco) that can be employed as a harm reduction strategy for smokers. The AHS submission also supported a maximum concentration level for nicotine, and noted that “the tobacco industry has a documented history of seeking to deliver higher concentrations of nicotine or increasing the speed with which nicotine travels to the brain.”
Excluding limits on flavours was lobbied for by Imperial Tobacco, National Smokeless Tobacco Company, the Convenience Industry Council of Canada, the Vaping Industry Trade Association, Juul Labs, and Imperial Brands, according to meeting summaries released by the government.
Abandoning limits on nicotine concentration, or setting extremely high limits, was lobbied for by Imperial Tobacco, Imperial Brands, Rothmans, Benson & Hedges, and the Canadian Vaping Association.
NDP Leader Rachel Notley pointed out that the tobacco lobby reads like a Who’s Who of UCP elite including Nick Koolsbergen the Premier’s campaign director, Brad Tennant, the former Executive Director and fundraiser for the UCP, and Sonia Kont, also a director of fundraising for the UCP.
“While Jason Kenney and Tyler Shandro brazenly ignore the advice of Dr. Deena Hinshaw, they’re bending over backward to make sure they hand out favours to their closest friends in the tobacco industry,” said Notley.
In a May 25, 2019 submission to Health Canada, Alberta Health Services wrote “research clearly shows that flavours attract youth and are one of the main reasons they try/use vaping products. Health Canada’s own research found 37% of Canadians aged 13-19 cited flavouring as the reason why they vape.”
“Alberta’s Official Opposition will propose straightforward, non-partisan amendments to Bill 19 that would bring Alberta’s vaping legislation in line with the scientific evidence on vaping,” said David Shepherd, NDP Opposition critic for Health. “Big tobacco has a long history of trying to keep folks addicted, and their primary tool with vaping is flavours and outrageous levels of nicotine content. We can’t let big tobacco win, and write our laws. The health of Albertans comes first.”