The Canadian Health Department recommends e-cigarettes to smokers

Attitude changed since 2023

Canada’s government website recently updated its electronic cigarette science section, stating that there is evidence that electronic cigarettes can help smokers quit smoking and completely switching to electronic cigarettes can effectively reduce smokers’ health risks. This is in stark contrast to its previous negative attitude, which only emphasized the harm of electronic cigarettes.

The Canadian Ministry of Health has been criticized by the public health community for exaggerating the harm of electronic cigarettes. “The Ministry of Health always talks about the harm of electronic cigarettes, but it does not mention at all that 4.5 million smokers have the opportunity to reduce harm by switching to electronic cigarettes. This is misleading the public and giving up the lives of millions of smokers.” Darryl Tempest, chairman of the Canadian Electronic Cigarette Association, wrote in an open letter in February 2020.

However, in recent years, the Canadian Ministry of Health has gradually changed its attitude. In 2022, the Canadian government website cited multiple research reports from the United Kingdom and the United States, acknowledging the harm reduction effect of electronic cigarettes. With this update, the Canadian Ministry of Health cited the latest report from the internationally authoritative medical evidence organization, Cochrane, and explicitly pointed out that electronic cigarettes can be used to quit smoking, and the effect is “better than the nicotine replacement therapy we previously recommended.” It is reported that Cochrane has issued five reports in seven years, confirming that electronic cigarettes are effective for smoking cessation.

The Canadian government website details the various benefits of smokers switching to electronic cigarettes: “Existing evidence shows that after smokers completely switch to electronic cigarettes, harmful substance inhalation can be immediately reduced, and overall health can be improved. There is currently no evidence to suggest any adverse effects of using electronic cigarettes for smoking cessation, and long-term use of electronic cigarettes for smoking cessation may even be more cost-effective.” In addition, the Canadian Ministry of Health also reminds smokers not to use both cigarettes and electronic cigarettes at the same time, because “smoking cigarettes will harm your health, and only by completely switching to electronic cigarettes can harm be reduced.”

Media reports indicate that this means Canada will recognize electronic cigarettes like the United Kingdom, Sweden, and other countries. On April 11th, the British government launched the world’s first “switch to electronic cigarettes before quitting smoking” plan, helping one million British smokers quit smoking by providing them with electronic cigarettes. A report from Sweden in 2023 shows that Sweden is about to become the first “smoke-free” country in Europe and even the world by promoting harm reduction products such as electronic cigarettes.

“In recent years, Canada’s tobacco control efforts have made significant progress, and the government’s recommendation of electronic cigarettes has played a key role,” said David Sweanor, a tobacco harm reduction expert in Canada. “If other countries can do the same, the global public health environment will be greatly improved.”

“Although quitting all nicotine products is the best, quitting smoking first can significantly reduce your health risks. Researchers have found that completely switching to electronic cigarettes is less harmful than continuing to smoke cigarettes. If various smoking cessation methods have not worked for you before, electronic cigarettes can help you quit smoking,” the Canadian government website wrote in its advice to smokers.



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