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

Houston physician Dr. Stefanie Steel receives her first dose of the Pfizer vaccine Jan. 19 from RN nurse manager Cindy Cockle. (Northern Health photo)
COVID-19 vaccinations get underway in Smithers

First doses are being administered to long-term care residents and priority health care staff

The COVID-19 outbreak at the two Coastal GasLink workforce lodges has officially been declared over. (Lakes District News file photo)
COVID-19 outbreak at Coastal GasLink worksites declared over

In total, 56 cases were associated with the outbreak in the Burns Lake and Nechako LHAs

Fentanyl was among the drugs seized by New Hazelton RCMP in a big bust in early January. (File photo)
New Hazelton RCMP arrest five, seize drugs and large amount of cash

Police find suspected heroin, fentanyl and crystal meth during early January drug bust

Smithers Local Health area reported 32 new cases of COVID-19 for the second week of January. (BC CDC graphic)
Weekly new cases of COVID-19 rise to 32 in Smithers LHA Jan. 10 – 16

Northern Health reports 35 new cases for 501 active, 44 hospitalized, 17 in critical care Wednesday

Brett Alexander Jones is wanted on several warrants province-wide, in connection with multiple charges. Jan. 21, 2021. Kitimat RCMP photo
Kitimat RCMP searching for man wanted on several warrants province-wide

Jones is described as a five-foot 10-inches Caucasian man, with blond hair and blue eyes.

Thursday, Jan. 28, 2021 is International Lego Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Jan. 24 to 30

Lego Day, Talk Like a Grizzled Prospector Day and Puzzle Day are all coming up this week

A video posted to social media by Chilliwack resident Rob Iezzi shows a teenager getting kicked in the face after being approached by three suspects on Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (YouTube/Rob i)
VIDEO: Security cameras capture ‘just one more assault’ near B.C. high school

Third high-school related assault captured by Chilliwack resident’s cameras since beginning of 2021

FILE - In this Feb. 14, 2017, file photo, Oklahoma State Rep. Justin Humphrey prepares to speak at the State Capitol in Oklahoma City. A mythical, ape-like creature that has captured the imagination of adventurers for decades has now become the target of Rep. Justin Humphrey. Humphrey, a Republican House member has introduced a bill that would create a Bigfoot hunting season, He says issuing a state hunting license and tag could help boost tourism. (Steve Gooch/The Oklahoman via AP, File)
Oklahoma lawmaker proposes ‘Bigfoot’ hunting season

A Republican House member has introduced a bill that would create a Bigfoot hunting season

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

Economic Development and Official Languages Minister Melanie Joly responds to a question in the House of Commons Monday November 23, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Federal minister touts need for new B.C. economic development agency

Last December’s federal economic update promised a stimulus package of about $100 billion this year

FILE - In this Nov. 20, 2017, file photo, Larry King attends the 45th International Emmy Awards at the New York Hilton, in New York. Former CNN talk show host King has been hospitalized with COVID-19 for more than a week, the news channel reported Saturday, Jan. 2, 2021. CNN reported the 87-year-old King contracted the coronavirus and was undergoing treatment at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. (Photo by Andy Kropa/Invision/AP, File)
Larry King, broadcasting giant for half-century, dies at 87

King conducted an estimated 50,000 on-air interviews

BC Coroners Service is currently investigating a death at Canoe Cove Marina and Boatyard in North Saanich. (Black Press Media File)
Drowning death in North Saanich likely B.C.’s first in for 2021

Investigation into suspected drowning Monday night continues

Kimberly Proctor, 18, was murdered in 2010. Her family has spent many of the years since pushing for a law in her honour, that they say would help to prevent similar tragedies. (Courtesy of Jo-Anne Landolt)
Proposed law honouring murdered B.C. teen at a standstill, lacks government support

Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions has concerns with involuntary detainment portion of act

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam speaks during a daily briefing in Ottawa. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld)
31 cases of COVID-19 variants detected in Canada: Health officials

Dr. Theresa Tam made announces 13 more variant COVID-19 cases in Canada

Most Read