A Canadian doctor specializing in smoking cessation and smoking related diseases has urged Health Canada to reconsider its decision to limit e cigarette brands in Canada. Dr. Gaston Ostiguy is the medical director of the Montreal Chest Institute’s Smoking Cessation Clinic and he has voiced his concern that Health Canada policies are putting smokers at risk by limiting their options. The question “are electronic cigarettes safe” will continue to be debated and strongly contested by many in the medical establishment. Those concerns aside, there is little argument that the dangers of tobacco far outweigh any potential danger posed by e cigarettes. While you can buy an e cigarette in Canada, Health Canada is currently blocking the option of nicotine in ecigs. You can also buy electronic cigarette cartridges without nicotine. Right across the border in the United States, American Smokers enjoy the option of a smoking alternative that also addresses nicotine addiction. Canadian consumers have been asking for a less harmful alternative and more and more addiction experts are supporting their desire for access to a wider range of e cigarette brands that produce nicotine vapor. There has not been a lot of concern raised about nicotine free e cigarette health risks and that leads to the conclusion that nicotine is the main concern of government health bodies. Of course up to this point in time, powerful pharmaceutical companies have monopolized nicotine therapies. Smokers who are trying to quit can access nicotine replacement therapies such as the patch or gum, but according to Dr. Ostiguy there are a number of smokers who will not be helped by these types of nicotine replacement therapies.
“There is a moral and ethical duty to provide these products (e-cigs) to addicted smokers.”’ Dr. Gaston Ostiguy
Dr. Ostiguy points out the fact that the approved nicotine therapies “will be ineffective for the millions of smokers who, despite best efforts to persuade and help them quit, will carry on smoking.” The reasons are related to the rituals of addiction in addition to the physiological addiction to nicotine. E cigarettes address both the physiological nicotine addiction aspect and the ritual aspect by mimicking smoking. Dr. Ostiguy said “Harm reduction in smoking can be achieved by providing smokers with safer sources of nicotine that are effective cigarette substitutes. E cigarettes are such a substitute.”
Dr. Ostiguy has joined a growing number of voices in Canada calling on the government to allow nicotine in ecigs. The Royal College of Physicians is also an advocate. E-cig health risks will continue to be debated but one thing that we know for a certainty is how smoking affects your health. Using e cigarettes as a smoking alternative to tobacco cigarettes is something that should not be debated. Ultimately, Canadian smokers deserve the opportunity to make their own choices. In the coming months many international health bodies will be following in the footsteps of the European Parliament in determining e cigarette regulations. The question is whether or not Health Canada will take notice and move toward a more reasonable position.