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

Kootenay West Candidates (L to R) Glen Byle (Conservative), Katrine Conroy (NDP), Andrew Duncan (Green), Corbin Kelley (Liberal), Fletcher Quince (Independent, Ed Varney (Independent).
Q&A with Kootenay West candidates: Child care

Sixth in a series of Q&As with the candidates, look for a new set each morning.

A health-care worker prepares to swab a man at a walk-in COVID-19 test clinic in Montreal North, Sunday, May 10, 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes)
Interior Health records 21 new COVID-19 cases over the weekend

Thirty-six cases remain active; two people are in the hospital, one of whom is in intensive care

Kootenay West Candidates (L to R) Glen Byle (Conservative), Katrine Conroy (NDP), Andrew Duncan (Green), Corbin Kelley (Liberal), Fletcher Quince (Independent, Ed Varney (Independent).
Q&A with Kootenay West candidates: BC Parks

Fifth in a series of Q&As with the candidates, look for a new set each morning.

Kootenay West Candidates (L to R) Glen Byle (Conservative), Katrine Conroy (NDP), Andrew Duncan (Green), Corbin Kelley (Liberal), Fletcher Quince (Independent, Ed Varney (Independent).
Q&A with Kootenay West candidates: life experience

Fourth in a series of Q&As with the candidates, look for a new set each morning.

Kootenay West Candidates (L to R) Glen Byle (Conservative), Katrine Conroy (NDP), Andrew Duncan (Green), Corbin Kelley (Liberal), Fletcher Quince (Independent, Ed Varney (Independent).
Q&A with Kootenay West candidates: schools

Third in a series of Q&As with the candidates, look for a new set each morning.

FILE – Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry answers questions during a press conference to update on the province’s fall pandemic preparedness plan from the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. sees record-breaking daily COVID infections with 499 new cases over weekend

Two people, both in the Lower Mainland, died due to the virus over the weekend

With local MLA Adam Olsen looking on, BC Greens leader Sonia Furstenau said a Green government would convert BC Ferries into a Crown corporation Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Green leader Sonia Furstenau promises to convert BC Ferries back into Crown corporation

Promise comes Monday afternoon with five days left in campaign

A passer-by walks past a COVID-19 testing clinic in Montreal, Friday, Oct. 16, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Canada ‘yet to see’ deaths due to recent COVID surge as cases hit 200,000

Much of the increase in case numbers can be attributed to Ontario and Quebec

Police confirm human remains were found in a recycling bin in Vancouver on Oct. 18, 2020. (Black Press Media file photo)
Human remains found in recycling bin floating near Vancouver beach

Police asking nearby residents to see if their recycling bin has gone missing

B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson visits a North Vancouver daycare to announce his party’s election promises for child care, Oct. 9, 2020. (B.C. Liberal Party video)
B.C. parties pitch costly child care programs in pandemic

B.C. Liberals say they’ll deliver on NDP’s $10-a-day promise for lower-income families

A B.C. man decided to create a website to help people find family doctors accepting patients. Because Victoria is considered high-demand, clinic openings can’t be posted publicly. (Unsplash)
Vancouver Island man starts website that connects B.C. residents with doctors

Nanaimo man started project to help people find family physicians accepting patients

Voting station at Tzeachten Hall in the riding of Chilliwack-Kent on the first day of advance voting in the provincial election on Oct. 15, 2020. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. VOTES 2020: 380,000 British Columbians head to polls in first 4 days of advance voting

Some of highest voter turnout so far has been seen on Vancouver Island and in Shuswap

Fort St. John councillor Trevor Bolin (B.C. Conservative Party)
BC Conservatives leader fights back after BC Liberals leak 2018 workplace harassment case

Sexual harassment case was connected to employee being terminated, WorkSafeBC found

Grant and Barbara Howse, in quarantine in Invermere. Mike Turner photo
Denied entry into U.S., Invermere couple still forced to quarantine for 2 weeks

The rules around crossing the U.S. border led to a bizarre situation for an Invermere couple

Most Read