Recently the Honourable Minister of Health made comments regarding the use of Personal Vaporizers or as they are also known – E-cigarettes. Of particular note were comments made about prohibiting e-liquid flavourings as a means to limit youth appeal. I would ask that the Minister read of my personal experience and opinion in the matter in hopes to provide a counterpoint and encourage further investigation prior to such a decision being made by one who has perhaps not had my experience as a smoker who has tried multiple times by multiple means to remove tobacco from my life.
I started smoking at the age of 12. Thirty-two years of pack a day usage later, in late September of this year; I picked up a vaporizer at a local vendor to see what the deal was. I’d seen these things at work and been told by everyone that was using them that they were former tobacco users. I didn’t expect to quit tobacco. I expected to waste about 70 dollars on a lark.
On the advice of the vendor I started with a 24 miligrams strawberry flavour. He said “Use this for a week and then try to smoke a cigarette.” Within four days I was always seeking the upwind side of the designated smoking areas, my sense of smell was coming back, and the odour from the second-hand smoke was discomforting to me. In the four weeks since that initial purchase I have not had a physical desire to touch a cigarette even though for the first seven days I had the open pack I had in my possession when I made my purchase (since disposed of along with about 100 dollars of Nicorette lozenges from a previous attempt to quit a year ago). Mentally, I dread the idea of going back to cigarettes. This is largely due to the fact that my physical (hand to mouth) and addictive (nicotine) needs are met by a more appealing means. This is due to the flavours available. Providing a complete separation from the tobacco experience.
I’ve since dropped my nicotine levels by 25 per cent to 18 milligrams per millilitre and intend to step that down again as comfortable, at my own pace, until I am free of nicotine.
I never intended to quit tobacco; I wound up doing it anyway. It was the most seamless transition I ever made. I now understand why vaping has taken off like it has, and why industries involved in tobacco production and or NRT would and indeed should feel threatened by its prevalence. I hope the former goes out of business and the latter learns how to make a product with a better than 10 per cent success rate. However, both of those entities, along with federal and provincial tax coffers, make their money from the person who keeps trying unsuccessfully to quit.
Is regulation needed? In my opinion, yes. No sales to minors, absolutely. Quality control standards in liquid manufacture would also be a good thing. Banning flavours? Not unless you want to seriously impact the positive effect on smokers trying to divorce themselves from tobacco. Perhaps removing non-nicotine “cigalikes” (which don’t help with nicotine addiction at all and literally exist only to mirror the act and look of smoking), from gas stations and convenience stores might be a start. After all we don’t sell fruit and candy flavoured alcohol there either (although our liquor stores are full of the stuff) also to protect our youth.
Should I be sent to the smoking area? That’s sort of like sending a heroin addict to a poppy field, but I manage. Understand though please that you are sending a non-tobacco user into a wall of second hand combustion products and known carcinogens.
I would invite you to contact the Electronic Cigarette Trade Association of Canada (www.ectaofcanada.com) as their members already have set policies regarding sales prohibitions to age of majority and liquid testing standards. I decided early on to only do business with members of this organization specifically due to these standards.
I would also point you to www.thra.ca, the Tobacco Harm Reduction Association of Canada as another source of information for your perusal in an effort to get information prior to making a decision that could impact many like myself who found a way to get free of tobacco when little else seemed to work. Both of these websites were very valuable to me when I was looking for information.
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Again, while E-cigarette manufacturers are not allowed to make claims of cessation ability or health benefit, I can tell you; it was not my intent to quit tobacco. It just happened as a side effect of the products ease of use, the meeting of my addictive needs, and the palatability of the delivery system.