Health Canada warns against sale, use of electronic smoking gadgets

Consumers should avoid purchasing or using electronic smoking products, which may pose health risks and have not been fully evaluated for safety and quality, Health Canada says.

OTTAWA — Consumers should avoid purchasing or using electronic smoking products, which may pose health risks and have not been fully evaluated for safety and quality, Health Canada says.

The products — electronic cigarettes, cigars, cigarillos and pipes, as well as cartridges of nicotine solutions and related products — require market authorization before they can be imported, advertised or sold.

No electronic smoking products have been granted market authorization in Canada, the federal department said Friday in a release.

In recent months, a number of electronic smoking products have been marketed in Canada and through the Internet. Most look like their conventional counterparts and produce a vapour that resembles smoke and a glow that resembles the tip of a cigarette.

The products use a battery-powered system that vaporized a liquid chemical mixture that may be composed of various amounts of nicotine, propylene glycol and other chemicals.

“Nicotine is a highly addictive and toxic substance, and the inhalation of propylene glycol is a known irritant,” Health Canada said. “Although these electronic smoking products may be marketed as a safer alternative to conventional tobacco products and, in some cases, as an aid to quitting smoking, electronic smoking products may pose risks such as nicotine poisoning and addiction.”

While electronic smoking products are prohibited, Health Canada has approved the sale of such nicotine-containing smoking-cessation aids as gum, patches, inhalers and lozenges.

Electronic smoking products must be kept away from children, who are at risk for choking or nicotine poisoning. Nicotine also poses a health hazard to pregnant women, nursing mothers, people with heart conditions and the elderly.

Canadians who have used e-cigarette products and are concerned about their health should consult a health-care practitioner.

Anyone importing, advertising or selling electronic smoking products in Canada is ordered to cease immediately, said Health Canada. Those wishing for information on applying for appropriate market authorizations and establishment licences should visit the department’s website at: www.hc-sc.gc.ca/dhp-mps/prodpharma/applic-demande/pol/notice—avis—e- cig-eng.php.

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