Company Urges Health Canada to Adopt Equitable and Evidence-Based Regulations on Nicotine Replacement Therapies (NRTs)

 MONTREAL, July 4, 2024 /CNW/ – Imperial Tobacco Canada Limited (“ITCAN”) has officially submitted its feedback to Health Canada regarding the proposed Ministerial Order on nicotine replacement therapy products (NRTs). ITCAN strongly believes that NRTs, especially innovative products like nicotine pouches, are pivotal in achieving Health Canada’s goal of reducing smoking rates to five percent by 2035. ITCAN’s submission emphasizes the need for fair and scientifically grounded regulations that do not stifle innovation or accessibility.

“We have said from the start that we are willing to work with Health Canada and address any concerns they may have about ZONNIC, Canada’s first and only nicotine pouch approved as a cessation product” said Eric Gagnon, Vice President Corporate and Regulatory Affairs. “We have been in constant dialogue with Health Canada for over two years and hope they will take our views into consideration and we remain ready to meet the Minister and his officials to discuss our feedback.”

ITCAN identified six areas in its feedback: 

  • Uniform Application of Regulations: ITCAN insists that any Ministerial Order must apply equally to all NRT formats. There is no scientific justification for discriminating between different NRT formats regarding public health risks. Singling out nicotine pouches, for which ITCAN is the sole licensed distributor in Canada, is unfair. ITCAN calls for non-discriminatory regulations that foster innovation and fairness.
  • Age-Verification and Points-of-Sale: ITCAN supports robust age-verification measures and the sale of NRTs from behind retail counters to prevent underage access. This is already a requirement we impose on retailers selling ZONNIC in addition to implementing triple age-verification for online sales. However, restricting NRT sales to pharmacies or requiring pharmacist dispensation creates unnecessary barriers, hindering accessibility and increasing work for pharmacists. Such measures overstep federal jurisdiction and should be left to provincial legislation.
  • Packaging and Labelling: Packaging and labelling requirements should be determined during the Natural Health Product application process, not through a Ministerial Order. ITCAN’s ZONNIC pouches, which underwent thorough scrutiny and approval by Health Canada, should not be subject to sudden changes. The current packaging poses no risk of attracting youth and altering it would necessitate extensive research and testing.
  • Flavour Profiles and Advertising: ITCAN argues that flavour profiles and advertising restrictions should also be managed during the license application process. Fruit flavours are essential for smoker acceptance of NRTs, and existing laws already prevent misleading advertising.
  • Reasonable Implementation Timeline: Should any order be imposed, ITCAN strongly urges Health Canada to adopt a reasonable implementation period to allow manufacturers and retailers to comply. An abrupt implementation would effectively suspend existing licenses, causing market disruption and harm to public health efforts.
  • Enforcement Against the Illicit Market: ITCAN once again highlighted the critical need for strict enforcement of any new regulations. The current illicit market for unauthorized NRTs poses significant public health risks, particularly for youth. Health Canada should be taking concrete action on illicit, not further regulating legal products that it has already approved. Without proper enforcement combatting the illicit market, stringent regulations will drive consumers – including youth – towards potentially unsafe products, undermining public health objectives.

Tucked away in the 2024 Budget Implementation Act is an amendment that will allow the Minister of Health to overrule the regulatory approval process for therapeutic products, which include any drugs, medical devices and natural health products. This unprecedented power grab takes a science and evidence-based approval process for therapeutic products and taints it with ideological considerations.

“To ensure the consultation process is meaningful rather than just checkbox exercise, it is essential to engage impacted stakeholders in accordance with the specific Ministerial Orders proposal,” said Mr. Gagnon. “We urge Health Canada to consider these critical elements and adopt regulations that are fair, evidence-based, science focused and enforceable,” he concluded.

About Imperial Tobacco Canada 

Imperial Tobacco Canada is Canada’s leading tobacco and nicotine products company and is part of the world’s most international tobacco group: BAT. BAT is a global multi-category consumer goods business, operating in over 180 markets. At BAT, our purpose is to create A Better Tomorrow™ by Building a Smokeless World. 

Our vision is for A Smokeless World built on smokeless products where, ultimately, cigarettes have become a thing of the past. A world where smokers have migrated from cigarettes to smokeless alternatives. A world where smokers make a Switch to Better.

SOURCE Imperial Tobacco Canada


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