Quebec’s latest ‘tobacco’ bill has been criticized for conflating very different products into a single category, giving draconian powers to governments and prohibiting individuals from freely choosing for themselves.
In an opinion piece in the Montreal Gazette, Ian Irvine, a professor of economics at Concordia University and an associate researcher with the Montreal Economic Institute, said that the arrival of electronic cigarettes had changed the market for nicotine consumption and related non-nicotine consumption dramatically.
But the central problem with Bill 44 was that it treated several distinct products as if they were identical, he said. The second paragraph of the bill stated that tobacco would now be defined to include ‘electronic cigarettes and any other devices of that nature that are put in one’s mouth to inhale any substance that may or may not contain nicotine, including their components and accessories’.
Irvine pointed out the enormous fines that, in theory, could, under the provisions of the bill, be imposed on those who sold e-liquids at a discount based on quantity.
‘Bill 44 also proposes to extend the prohibition on smoking in bars to outdoor terraces,’ Irvine said. ‘And since vaping is now as serious as inhaling conventional tobacco, vapers will be limited to inhaling the fumes from passing motor vehicles, without having the right to inhale peaches-and-cream or toffee-and-hazelnut e-liquid.’
Irvine proposed that venue operators could be allowed to permit or ban smoking and vaping on their terraces, and to advertise their facilities accordingly. ‘Customers could then gravitate to bars with terraces polluted only by automobiles, or bars with terraces where they could also produce and inhale smoke or vapour.
Such a flexible system might provide a model for further modifying tobacco control in such a way that the rights of all individuals in society are respected. ‘In contrast, Bill 44, with its misguided definition of what constitutes tobacco, combined with ruinous penalties, models a paternalistic lack of respect for individual rights,’ Irvine said.
The full piece is at: http://montrealgazette.com/news/local-news/opinion-new-tobacco-control-bill-is-ill-conceived.