The Making Healthier Choices Act -- true Orwellian doublespeak -- treats vaping as if it was as harmful as smoking. This imaginative warping of the facts requires the province to ignore the growing scientific evidence that whether inhaled directly or second-hand, vaping has not been strongly associated with the negative health effects of inhaling combusted tobacco products.
If you are reading this, chances are you are thinking about quitting smoking, or you'd like to find ways to help a loved one quit. And if so, congratulations on taking this first step! Quitting smoking is a journey, not an event. It can take time and require lots of support from family, friends or your healthcare provider.
The narrative concocted to support this ban is a sham. Vaping is not a public health crisis. Aside from a handful of deeply flawed studies that have been discredited, the accumulated evidence is becoming clearer and clearer--vaping is orders of magnitude less harmful than smoking is. And it's hardly more of a nuisance than wearing an excessive amount of perfume.
A study recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine addresses an interesting, incremental way to motivate people to butt out: you pay them. In a previous post I've written about both the public and private sector rewarding people for healthy living, including in terms of being more physically active and eating/drinking more nutritiously. Paying people to quit may, at first, seem far fetched. But it is part of a larger movement to implement what are regarded as sound policies without invoking the heavy hand of the state: regulating lite.
There's good news and bad news about smoking. Recent statistics reveal that consumption rates are at record lows and appear to be dropping even further. And, as those rates fall, the menace of second-hand smoke also recedes. But these positive developments come at a time when new evidence warns that cigarettes are even more hazardous than we have thought. So to end smoking and the many costs it imposes on this continent, let alone elsewhere in the world, much remains to be done.
Taxation is mostly used by state governments to generate revenue; it is sometimes used as a policy tool to dissuade citizens from the consumption of different products or services. However, the introduction of disparate taxation may lead to unintended consequences. Disparate taxation on cigarettes may lead to the creation and expansion of black markets for cigarettes. It is very important to be cognizant of the unintended consequences of disparate taxation when it is used as a policy tool.
So when no evidence exists to show that e-cigarettes are safe for long-term use by humans, when laboratory studies demonstrate worrisome potential physiological risks, and when strong evidence is mounting that e-cigarettes are leading our youth to consider smoking tobacco cigarettes, I would contend that caution here is the only reasonable approach.
There has been a dramatic increase in the number of Canadians living with obesity over the past few decades and it is often cited as a risk factor for other chronic health conditions including type 2 diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease and some forms of cancer. This means that obesity is frequently a hot topic in the news. But media stories often miss the mark when it comes to informing Canadians about the complex factors that lead to obesity.