Health Canada finds out the number of e-cigarettes in the market April 2, 2014 17:44

With the existence of both legal and illegal electronic cigarettes in the market today, Health Canada has launched the process of determining the exact number of devices being sold in the market. For example, Ottawa has allocated $230,000 towards the study that will determine the total number of electronic cigarettes sold over the last two years and within the current month.

As the number of people who use electronic cigarettes continue to swell, the devices are still trapped in a legal straddle. They can be sold only if they produce vapor and not nicotine. Moreover, it is illegal to advertise e-cigarettes as a healthy alternative to conventional tobacco cigarettes. However, the legal devices come with vapor cartridges that can be easily switched with nicotine and such devices have recorded surging demand.

e-Steam, a downtown Ottawa e-cigarette retailer, reflects the increasing popularity of e-cigarettes with vapor cartridges. After only two years in business, the company has opened fourteen branches in Ontario. One of the company’s employees, Phil Ralph says, “Many customers are attesting to how e-cigarettes have changed their lives from saving their lungs to saving their marriage.” 

The price of an starter kit ranges from around 80 to hundreds of dollars. The devices come with vapour cartridges while nicotine (up to 24mm vials) can be purchased separately. Ralph has himself tried and failed many times to quit after 12 years of smoking, but he has now shifted to e-cigarettes. “I haven’t smoked for over three months thanks to the switch,” he added.

However, the testimonies of the smokers have failed to convince anti-smoking groups, such as the Canadian Lung Association which has termed them as gimmicky methods. Instead, they are calling for tighter e-cig regulations and urging smokers to use other alternative methods.

Health Canada advises citizens against the use of electronic cigarettes until there is credible scientific evidence suggesting otherwise. Ottawa has now outsourced the services of a private company, AC Nielsen, to find out the number of smoking cessation aids being sold. The company which is based in St. Laurent, Que has been contracted to study the total retail sales of e-cigarettes and other related nicotine replacement therapy products.

The government wants to find out the number of devices sold in the last two years, as well as ongoing monthly sale reports. The $133,000 contract stretches through the entire fiscal year 2014-2015, but may be renewed for the next fiscal year for $100,000.

The office of the Health Minister has not clarified whether the outcome of the research may be used to make new legislation. The spokesman Michael Bolkenius says, “Health Canada has been mandated to bring e-cigarette vendors into compliance with the existing laws.” He added manufacturers will have to provide scientific evidence suggesting that the benefits of their e-cigs outweigh the potential risks. No company has so far applied for their products to be authorized.