Moral panic about NP flavours in Canada

Canada is currently discussing a possible ban on flavours in vapes and nicotine pouches, a proposal that has been heavily criticised. One of those at the forefront of the criticism is Toronto-based physician Dr John Oyston, who writes for Filter Mag about the country’s failure to reduce the harmful effects of smoking.

Dr Oyston – who has seen first-hand the damage that combustible tobacco does to the human body – says the moral panic surrounding nicotine pouches has been almost hysterical. Over the years, he has been involved in several efforts to reduce smoking and is a strong advocate of safer sources of nicotine for adult smokers.

He describes how the main health effect of nicotine pouches is to improve heart, lung and cancer risk in ex-smokers and that research has shown that nicotine pouches reduce smoking more than nicotine gum. But instead of seeing these benefits, health organisations, the media and special interest groups have exerted pressure and now finally got the Minister of Health to take a stand on the issue. Without reflecting on the fact that the opportunity to save the lives of smoking Canadians is now wasted.

Dr Oyston argues that the moral panic began when the authorities failed to set a minimum legal age for nicotine pouches. Furthermore, opponents seem to have assumed that the flavours are aimed specifically at children – something Dr Oyston says is not true. In addition, he points out that the same flavours are already found in other smoking cessation products already marketed by pharmacies, for example.

Smoking causes more than 21,000 deaths annually in Canada. In the article, Dr Oyston argues that a flavour ban would make smokers less likely to quit and therefore increase their chances of dying. A ban would also encourage a completely unregulated illicit market with no product standards, public tax revenues or age restrictions. A development that Dr Oyston believes is downright harmful.

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