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Government shares findings from second Tobacco and Vaping Products Act legislative review

Canada’s government working to reduce smoking and use of other tobacco products.
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The government of Canada has released is awaited Tobacco and Vaping Products Act (TVPA) legislative review, launched last year in September.

With more than 46,000 people in Canada die because of tobacco use every year, the government’s   Tobacco Strategy, is looking to reduce number of Canadians who smoke cigarettes and use other tobacco products from the current rate of 12% to less than 5% of the population by 2035.

The Tobacco Act was amended in May 2018 to become the TVPA. The TVPA and other legislation pieces created a new legal framework for regulating vaping products. As such, the TVPA includes a set of objectives related to tobacco as well as to vaping.

The TVPA includes a requirement for a legislative review three years after coming-into-force, and every two years thereafter. Periodic reviews provide a means to examine and respond to tobacco and/or vaping related issues that may emerge over time.

READ:  Imperial Tobacco Canada warns against proposed flavour regulations on vaping products

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The Honourable Ya'ara Saks, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health, tabled the results of the second legislative review of the Tobacco and Vaping Products Act (TVPA) in Parliament. 

This review of the Act's tobacco-related provisions and operation will help to better understand how these measures can further reduce smoking in Canada. It complements the first review which focused on vaping and was tabled in Parliament in December 2022.

"Strong legislation is a key part of Canada's Tobacco Strategy. The second legislative review of the TVPA offers an invaluable opportunity to refine our strategies and work towards achieving our target of less than 5% tobacco use in Canada by 2035. Despite a decline in smoking numbers, we still have more work to do to protect Canadians from the harms of smoking," says Saks.

Overall, the results of the legislative review show that progress has been made in reducing tobacco-related death and disease in Canada. For example, youth smoking rates were at an all-time low of 1.6% in 2022. However, some communities and regions continue to have disproportionately high rates of tobacco use with some populations experiencing smoking rates of over 60%.

The review identifies potential action areas including prioritizing First Nations, Inuit and Métis engagement, cooperation and reconciliation; addressing barriers to cessation; strengthening enforcement; increasing transparency; addressing industry interference; and ensuring the legislative framework is responsive to modern realities.

"The TVPA is essential to our goal of achieving less than 5% tobacco use among Canadians by 2035 and we need everyone—health professionals, advocates and individuals—working together to achieve this goal. We look forward to leveraging the insights gathered to refine our ongoing efforts to protect Canadians, especially young people, from the harms of smoking and vaping,” adds The Honourable Mark Holland, Minister of Health.

Rothmans, Benson and Hedges, however, has taken a more critical stance to the review, arguing that the TVPA has left Canada's 3.8 million smokers behind by failing to legalize access to accurate, scientific information about nicotine products.

In its submission to Health Canada's review of the TVPA, Rothmans, Benson and Hedges presented solutions to reduce Canadian smoking rates, including providing scientific information about smoke-free alternatives directly on tobacco products. In a news release, the company says that this targeted education would put information in the hands of the consumers who need it the most and be a leading initiative in recognizing the potential of harm reduction in reducing tobacco related illness.

The company adds that the legislative review of the TVPA represented an opportunity for Health Canada to implement serious harm reduction efforts, by applying the lessons learned by countries like Sweden, which effectively became the first smoke-free country in the world. 

"Without changes to federal law, Canadian smokers continue to be denied access to scientific information on smoke-free alternatives, and relative risks of these products compared to cigarettes. Health Canada's review of the TVPA was a real opportunity for Canada to be a world leader in embracing science-based harm reduction efforts and smoke-free alternatives to cigarettes, which would lead to better health outcomes for Canadians," says Kory McDonald, head, external affairs, Rothmans, Benson and Hedges Inc.

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