If one were to attempt to come up with an analogy capable of aptly describing Canada’s e-cigarette industry, saying that it is reminiscent of a rugged life in the Wild West would be right on the money. As exciting as I imagine being a frontiersman would be, it’s no place for an industry that is looking to be taken seriously – particularly one that many think possesses the greatest potential as a reduced harm product.
For years, the legislative and medical communities as well as the public, have struggled to determine exactly how vaping and e-cigarettes should be classified and regulated – something many emerging technologies have dealt with (Uber, anyone?). Regulation becomes especially difficult when so much misinformation and distrust surrounds the product – which can make legitimizing the industry in the eyes of a doubtful and suspicious populace that much more difficult.
But there is an organization that aims to stop misinformation while providing insight to regulators – as well as keeping the vaping public informed on proposed legislation that could change the way Canadians vape: The Electronic Cigarette Trade Association of Canada.
What is the Electronic Cigarette Trade Association of Canada (ECTA)?
The ECTA is a national organization that started in 2011 as a need to ensure that the e-cigarette industry follows the correct legal and regulatory classifications within Canada’s borders. Even now, the ECTA is working with international researchers, legal experts, and consultants to come up with a set of guiding principles that vendors and suppliers will adhere to, in accordance with the country’s laws. This is super important.
Why is that Important?
Without standardization, products of sub-standard quality can flood the market, impacting not only the users enjoyment of the product, but also detracting people who are looking to quit smoking from trying e-cigarettes such as myself. Without regulations doing so can be dangerous. But people hear words like “regulated industry” and automatic worry arises about government control, increased prices for their commodity, and the imposition of rules dictating where and when these products are allowed to be consumed.
Lack of government oversight means however, that consumers can’t always trust what they are consuming – a sobering thought considering most of the e-liquids Canadians are using are being produced abroad. The ECTA is trying to bring vaping discussing to the forefront, along with playing a crucial role in the regulation process. This is unique in the fact not many legislators look to the industry for help to determine the principles to regulate that industry.
So What Does Health Canada Have to Say About E-cigarettes?
Frankly, Health Canada has remained quiet where e-cigarettes are concerned. It’s sad really when you consider how many Canadians turn to them for (hopefully) impartial information. And although e-cigarettes don’t fall under Health Canada’s umbrella, they could be a rewarding resource for Canadians on the topic.
Cautionary Tales of an Unregulated Industry
Several years ago, one of Canada’s premiere manufacturers of e-liquids submitted their product for chemical testing. The report came back shocking the company. It determined one of their flavored e-juices contained a chamical known within the medical community to cause severe respiratory illness. Naturally, the company promptly issued a recall on the product.
The thought a vaping product could have an adverse affect on your health is frightening enough for people even considering using it. But what’s more frightening is the recall was not at the hands of a regulatory body (being that Canada doesn’t have regulations in place when it comes to e-liquid composition) but was conducted thanks to the self-relating best practices ECTA put into place.
The time for government action is now. It’s critical that the vaping community in Canada has a voice, at least we have the ECTA. As the annual e-cigarette industry nears an estimated revenue of $200 million, for good or ill, Canadians need the government to take a stance on this transformative industry.