At least, in Canada it is. You will of course remember Bill 45, curiously entitled “Making Healthier Choices Act” which effectively makes it illegal to use/sell or display e-cigarettes; curiously when I first read Bill 45, I immediately thought “this is the TPD on fucking steroids”. I was, in fact completely fucking wrong.
You see, the Minister for Public Health, one Lucie Charlebois, has taken an extreme Drakeford-like approach to the “epidemic” of e-cigarettes with the introduction of her Bill 44. This Bill is supposed to “strengthen” the Tobacco Act of 2005 and is designed to “greatly help to reduce smoking rates in the province”.
There are of course “several measures long sought of” by Health Groups (aka Sock Puppets) which include :
- Banning smoking on the terraces of bars and restaurants as well as in all other commercial outdoor areas “equipped for rest, relaxation or consumption of products” – in other words, smoking is now banned pretty much fucking everywhere in Quebec province. Parks, restaurant gardens, pub gardens, jogging routes, playgrounds etc. etc.
- Banning smoking in cars with children under 16 (of fucking course)
- Banning smoking within 9 metres of any exterior doors to public places (again, literally everywhere)
- Banning the addition of any flavour including menthol to tobacco products; except cigarettes and electronic products intended for export – so you can add menthol if it’s going overseas, but you can’t have it if you are a local.
- Last but not least, the definition of the electronic cigarette as a fucking tobacco product
As with Bill 45 in Ontario, Bill 44 in Quebec is a list of nanny-statist, ideological rubbish. Absolutely none of the above measures will have the desired impact, especially if they want to meet the goal of “greatly reducing smoking rates” by including e-cigarettes in there. By the way, wherever you read “smoking” in that list include “vaping” there too simply because, like Duckford, Charlebois equates them as the same thing.
But wait! There’s more, and it’s incredibly depressing.
- Establishment of a regulatory authority to prohibit smoking in other outdoor venues. – outdoors! fucking outdoors!
- Reduction of the maximum proportion of rooms “smokers” in hospitals from 40% to 20% – WHAT? So reducing the amount of rooms available for smokers in hospitals?
- An obligation by health institutions and educational facilities (schools, colleges, universities) to adopt a “smokefree” environment according to guidelines established by the Minister with reports every two years
- Standardization of warnings on packets – so all “tobacco products” will carry the same “health warning messages” – yes tobacco products include e-cigarettes.
There’s also provision in the Bill (as detailed over on the POTV Blog) for the following:
The bill now makes it illegal to have a vape forum, a vape blog, a Facebook page mentioning ecigs, discussions about vaping on Twitter, vape-related Youtube videos or run any website to sell and ship ecigs or eliquid. And what is the penalty for contravening the law? A fine of ten thousand Canadian dollars, around £5,000. Quite how criminalising vapers benefits anybody beggars belief and can only be the logic of someone hell-bent on an outright ban.
To make matters worse, the Quebec Coalition for Tobacco Control is feeling pretty damn smug about the whole thing:
welcomes the unanimous adoption of Bill 44, or act to strengthen the fight against smoking, over 10 years after the last revision of the Tobacco Act. In property enhancing Quebec law on several fronts at once, the Minister for Public Health, Ms. Lucie Charlebois, up again Quebec a world leader in tobacco control: better protection against secondhand smoke, more smoke-free outdoor spaces welcoming youth, coaching the sale and promotion of electronic cigarettes and other measures, including a global precedent, the better counter the tactics of the tobacco industry marketing.
Flory Doucas (spokesperson for the QCTC) is thoroughly rejoicing over this “victory” by saying it is now “one of the most advanced in the world”; and which world that be? The one Orwell created, as from where I’m sitting, the “measures” being introduced to ‘strengthen’ the Tobacco Act is a direct violation of peoples ability to choose for themselves.
What is astounds me the most is this:
This bill will save countless lives by attacking is effectively the root cause of disease and preventable deaths. We congratulate Minister Charlebois and all members of the Board of Health for their hard work and non-partisan and constructive approach on this issue, and hope to see Bill 44 passed quickly so that its positive effects on the health of the population can materialize faster
So this approach is “non-partisan” and “constructive” is it? If they actually bothered to consider all the evidence which amounts to a lot on both sides, it would be abundantly clear that the inclusion of e-cigarettes is the exact opposite of the intention of the revised act. Not to mention severely limiting civil liberties for the %23 of the population that still smoke because they choose to. Almost one-quarter of the population of the province of Quebec are now even more ostracised than before, and they call this “balanced and constructive”. What the fuck are they on?
I do feel that our Canadian brethren, both smokers and vapers deserve a lot better than this. Remember, now that a ludicrous, #notabouthealth Act has fallen in a second province it’ll now begin to gather pace, we have seen that with the ludicrous plain packs debacle and with the incessant need for the US to raise the smoking age to 21. This along with other measures being introduced globally are the beginnings of a very slippery slope that once set in motion, will be incredibly difficult; if not impossible to reverse.
So, in summary. A quick message to the Quebec Minister for Health with her blinkered, ignorant, hypocritical and incredibly stupid view on this matter: