Imperial tobacco is Canada’s biggest tobacco company. Canada will soon be unveiling electronic cigarette regulations and the tobacco giant is gearing up to use the new regulations as a launch pad into the fast growing $235 million vape industry in Canada. When asked why Imperial Tobacco would want to sell a product that could detract from cigarette sales company spokesman Eric Gagnon said “It’s the same reason why Coke has Diet Coke and they have water. So that means with that thinking, there’s no way that Coke could sell water … there’s no way McDonald’s could sell a salad. Why aren’t we allowed to sell a less harmful product?”
A big player like Imperial Tobacco with its vast distribution capabilities could quickly maneuver to take a big pice of the vaping pie in Canada. We do not know what the Canadian regulations will look like. The government has said that the goal is to protect minors from e-cigs while balancing the interests of adult smokers seeking a less harmful alternative. If they mimic the state of regulation in the US large companies with vast resources will have a serious advantage to getting a big share of the market.
In the US, Big Tobacco owned Vuse vapor cigarettes have gained a big portion of the retail sales market. What type of product Imperial Tobacco would bring to market is unclear. The sound mony is that they will be looking at a cigalike because it is the most viable C-store, gas station type product and can easily be incorporated into the distribution of cigarettes.
Vaping In Canada
Right now vaping ecig with nicotine is technically illegal. Ecigs are widely available as this is not strongly enforced. There seems to be some discrepancy whether there is actually a law vs a Health Canada recommendation. In any event, when the govenrment releases actual regulations this year we expect to see vaping become a legal choice for adult tobacco cinsumers in Canada. Imperial Tobacco certainly seems to be expecting that.
Gagnon says that he hopes the regulations include provisions that would allow the company to explain their products to consumers. What he means by that is that he hopes that ecigs will be allowed to be marketed in Canada as a less harmful smoking alternative, something the FDA currently does not allow.
The parent company of Imperial, BAT, already sells cigalike style products in the UK. In fact BAT got a medicinal license to sell their Voke ecig as an actual smoking cessation device. The point is that Imperial Tobacco has a parent company that knows how to access vaping consumers.
Opinions of vaping in Canada vary. Some anti-tobacco advocates want cigarettes and e-cigs banned. Some health care practiotioners are eager for their patients to have access to a potentially life saving product. Dr. Mark Tyndall is the medical director for the BC Centre For Disease Control. He sees many people sturggling to quit and says that those people deserve a better option thatn just a call to quit. If it was that easy, no one would be smoking. Dr. Tyndall understands that Canada needs multiple tools to fight tobacco harm.
Smoking takes the lives of 37000 people every year in Canada. Imperial Tobacco wants to offer adult smokers a less harmful product and that’s a good thing. Hopefully Canadian ecig regulations will allow for a competitive vapor market in Canada maximizing the options available to smokers.