TORONTO, ONTARIO — The Canadian Constitution Foundation today released a report by Dr. Leonid Sirota, professor of law at the Auckland University of Technology Law School, that outlines possible avenues for a constitutional challenge to current and proposed vaping legislation in Canada. The report highlights the rights of a specific but important—and vulnerable— group: current smokers who are looking to quit.
“While current and proposed legislation (especially at the federal level) sometimes distinguishes between vaping and smoking, it often fails to do so. Vaping is, according to the best available scientific data, much less dangerous than smoking, because it does not involve combustion or the generation of smoke,” says Dr. Sirota in his report. The conflation of vaping and smoking within the law runs contrary to the best available evidence and risks conveying to smokers the impression that vaping is not meaningfully different and better than smoking, discouraging them from trying what may be the best harm-reduction method available.
The report analyzes various constitutional concerns about the regulation of vaping, both in terms of the laws falling outside of federal jurisdiction as well as running afoul of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Other vaping regulations, such as nicotine ceilings or flavor restrictions, have the potential to make them less attractive or effective as quit-aids—and are considered from the standpoint of potential interference with the right not to be deprived of life, liberty, and the security of the person protected by section 7 of the Charter.
In concluding, Dr. Leonid Sirota observed, “These regulations are meant to protect non-smokers from vaping as potentially dangerous in itself and, worse, a possible gateway to smoking. However, it risks inflicting serious harm on current smokers, for whom vaping can be an important, and often the most effective, harm-reduction technique.”
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