It’s been a little over a month since my last blog and boy have things changed and not for the good.
As I had postulated in the end of my last blog my employer went with the "Health Canada states that ......." crutch. No investigation, no questions asked of me or other vapers in our widening circle, totally closed door.
A company-wide memorandum was issued in mid-October. What’s horrible is that they focused on “[e-cigs] may pose health risks and have not been fully evaluated for safety, quality and efficacy by Health Canada…. ” angle. Here is the memorandum;
It has been brought to our attention that some staff may be using electronic smoking products in the workplace. As outlined in the attached Health Canada Advisory released in March 2009 these products have not received approval under the Food and Drugs Act.
Health Canada is advising Canadians not to purchase or use electronic smoking products as they may pose health risks and have not been fully evaluated for safety, quality and efficacy by Health Canada.
Based on the information from Health Canada employees are to refrain from using any form of electronic cigarette or smoking product in the workplace. Should you require support for smoking cessation please contact your health care provider. You may also access the Employee Assistance or through the Wellness portal. A copy of the EAP Smoking Cessation Services is also attached.
If you have any questions or concerns, please speak with human resources.
Thank you for your cooperation.
Realistically, I knew that it was coming to this, so I started vaping only outside with all my old smoking pals well before this directive was issued. Not much point in pissing management off. Not much point in fighting them on this. The only way to fight this is simply unattainable given that our government has reclassified liquid nicotine from a tobacco product to a drug. To get a license to sell e-liquid with nicotine you would need the deep pockets of big-pharma. Just to be sure that no one can sell these products (legally) in Canada, our ‘vaping devices’ must now therefore pass certification as ’medical devises’ if they are used to deliver nicotine. Health Canada graciously points the way to the process to apply but you need to be a constitutional lawyer just muddle through the introduction to the process! Don`t get me started!
But here is the really bad part about becoming an outspoken supporter of vaping, at least in my workplace. I became the ANTZ (anti this and anti that, you know the types) whipping boy! I`ve had five complaints filed against me that have led to two disciplinary hearings for vaping in the office in the last two weeks. Even though I hadn`t vaped in the office for weeks before this directive. The ANTZ were out in their sickening attempts to punish me, or in some cases trying to get time off for having been exposed to a banned substance and all fueled by ignorance.
I have been harassed incessantly. I have people walking by my cubicle all day long sniffing the air. My cubicle is off the beaten path, you have to go out of your way to be there. My co-workers in my unit have stopped talking to me …. Like I wasn’t even there! The atmosphere has become rotten. So rotten, that I`m not sleeping well, I`m popping Zantac like I had shares in the company and I`m looking over my shoulder constantly waiting for another false accusation to come flying at the back of my head. It`s brutal!
I just can`t stand this ignorance. For almost three months no one took noticed. Hey it was cool that there was hope for tobacco addicts, there was a safer alternative, for all involved. Smokers and non-smokers alike.
Now I`ve got a target on my back. What am I supposed to do when just about anyone can say that they saw me vaping in the office and it`s my word against theirs and management entertains them all. This is bull.....
Weekend has come and gone and I haven't been able to get this off my mind. Spent most of Sunday researching info on vaping. Is it safe? Truely? What was my argument going to be? There really isn't a hell of a lot I could do ... is there? This was probably just going to be swept under the carpet and that would be the end of it.
Monday I get an email from the health and safety committee. They have assigned an 'impartial' mediator to 'investigate'. WOW! This is way more than I had anticipated! Whom had they assigned? I didn't recognize this persons name.
I started asking around. Turns out this is the president of the local Anti-Smoking Coalition. Great He has two parents who have died from smoking related illnesses. Ouch. But this could be good. Don't get me wrong. There is nothing 'good' about losing a loved one for any reason but perhaps this person would see that vaping is a way to curb ... even stop the evils associated with analogs. Maybe he could be the champion that is needed to push this further?
Who am I kidding? Less than 2000 people have signed an online petition in Canada, less than 14,000 in the USA and less than 6000 in the UK! Hell more than 8,800 people signed a petition to keep a local farm open!
I started this, I won't be deterred. The investigator sent me an email an asked me what the product names I use for my tools and liquids so they he could do some initial research.
Here is my bumbling response;
I use one of two 'tools' or what are normally referred to as personal vaping devices (PV's for short).
The Boge Revolution V2 and the Maxi Roughstack V2
I currently mix my own liquids with the finest quality organic materials. There are three compounds (NOT CHEMICALS!) in my e-juice.
1) Propylene Glycol and/or Vegetable Glycerin
2) Food Grade Essences
3) Liquid Nicotine Base
All three liquid bases are common food additives used in a variety of pharmaceutical formulations. Propylene glycol, the current dominating liquid base, has been utilized in asthma inhalers and nebulizers since the 1950s, and because of its water-retaining properties, is the compound of choice for delivering atomized medication. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) includes propylene glycol on its list of substances Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS), and it meets the requirements of acceptable compounds within Title 21 of the Code of Federal Regulations.
In fact the vapour (it is NOT smoke) from a vaporizer is no different than the steam emitted from your tea or coffee in the morning and is no more harmful than either of these.
None of these substances are carcinogenic. Nicotine is not a carcinogenic substance. It's all the other chemicals that are emitted from tobacco cigarettes when burned that are harmful to us. That's what I need to get away from. Health Canada's ban is not on the 'tools' it's the nicotine. Health Canada's ban is not supported by any scientific data and instead of classifying e-juice as a tobacco product, it has categorized it as a drug making it impossible for anyone but big-pharma to be able to afford the costs of bringing it to market through the regulatory process. Why would they? They would rather feed smokers Champix with side effect warnings that there is a risk of suicide while taking these 'drugs'. Furthermore, what is the interest of big-pharma in marketing a NRT (nicotine replacement therapy) that you can essentially make from products found at your local bakery.
''The absence of effective harm reduction options for smokers is perverse, unjust, and acts against the rights and best interests of smokers and the public health.'' -- Britton J, Edwards R. Tobacco smoking, harm reduction, and nicotine product regulation. Lancet 2008;371:441-5.
There are many peer reviewed scientific research documents available on the internet that detailed the safety of vaporizing and the health phenomenal benefits over smoking.
Even Anti-smoking organizations have come out in strong support of e-cigarettes as an acceptable alternative to smoking.
Professor Carl Philips University of Alberta.
I'd be happy to assist in their investigation.
Wonder what kind of response I'm going to get? Probably something like "Health Canada states that ......."
I ain't dead yet! there is still a thin hair of hope to keeping this alive.
Where to start? I quit analogues on June 9, 2011. This after 35 years of smoking those dam things. I had tried a number of other NRT’s to no avail. The patch, the gum and even a try with Champix. My aggression levels went off the chart with Champix. My family begged me to go back to the analogues.
June 9th was different. I went in with that cocky cigarette smoker attitude. “Hey check this out, I can get my nicotine …. I don’t really have to quit and if I don’t like it I’ll just go back to the smokes.” I had read just enough to know that it was also going to be way cheaper than smoking analogues and I wasn’t going to suffer any of the ill effects I had in the past trying to quit. Turns out that I was able to stay off the analogues without much effort, I just took to vaping right away. Not without some problems however. My first ‘kit’ wasn’t the greatest. The batteries didn’t last long and failed. I started out vaping just PG and developed a cough that went away when I experimented with PG/VG mixes. I had issues when I went outside with the old smoker clique, the smell of analogues still gave me cravings. Along the way I modded a few USB pass-throughs. This was insurance in case I had more battery issues.
Point being is that I was determined now not to go back to analogues.
I work in an office environment. Cubicles. I started vaping right at my desk to avoid having to go hang with the analogue smokers. For the first couple of days I was very stealthy about it. I began to realize that there was no appreciable odor, no lingering clouds and that my cubicle mates hadn’t ever once said anything. They had no idea that I was vaping at my desk. At first anyway. As time went on I began throwing caution to the wind and just vaped whenever. Some of my colleagues started asking questions. I was only too happy to tell them about vaping and the fact that I had given up all those thousands of carcinogens that analogues had. This was a much healthier way of getting my nicotine and I was working towards even lowering that level of consumption. For the most part I was encouraged. “Way to go Lawrence.” “Keep it up!” “Weird how I can’t smell anything unless I’m standing here when you do it.”
A full three months went by and then one day, the person in the cubicle directly in front of mine was walking by as I blew out a huge cloud of vapor. Oh my [insert your religious icon here] all hell broke loose.
She started to cough, gag, sneeze … you name it. She went home that day because she had been ‘exposed’ to toxins. Where to .... had she been for the past three months? Didn’t ever seem to be an issue until that moment she saw the cloud of vapor!
That same day I was called into a meeting with HR, my manager, a union health and safety rep and union reps from both unions in my workplace. By this time I was ready to deal with this sort of thing, or so I thought. I had read all the material that I could on vaping, e-cigarettes, propylene glycol, vegetable glycerine, nicotine, casaa.org, vapersclub.com. I was on the boards chatting it up with fellow vapers, I was pushing the envelope in public places, vaping in my dentists office, vaping at the pub …… but nothing prepared me for the ignorance I was about to face this day.
“We have a strict no smoking policy in the workplace”, “I wasn’t smoking” I tried to explain but there was no way in hell I was going to convince them otherwise. In fact I had this HR wonk trying to tell me that e-cigarettes were more harmful than real cigarettes?!? What further burned me was that two union reps were just as clueless and did nothing to come to my defense. If I wanted to continue to ‘poison’ myself I would have to do it with all the other smokers outside.
“The Health and Safety committee would usually follow the recommendations of the authoritative source which we believe is Heath Canada. I quote;”OTTAWA - Health Canada is advising Canadians not to purchase or use electronic smoking products, as these products may pose health risks and have not been fully evaluated for safety, quality and efficacy by Health Canada.
These products come as electronic cigarettes, cigars, cigarillos and pipes, as well as cartridges of nicotine solutions and related products. These products fall within the scope of the Food and Drugs Act, and under the Act, require market authorization before they can be imported, advertised or sold. The sale of these health products is currently not compliant with the Food and Drugs Act since no electronic smoking products have been granted a market authorization in Canada.
In recent months, a number of electronic cigarettes, cigars and pipes as well as cartridges of nicotine solutions and related products have been marketed in Canada, and through the Internet. Most of these products are shaped and look like their conventional counterparts. They produce a vapour that resembles smoke and a glow that resembles the tip of a cigarette. They consist of a battery-powered delivery system that vapourizes and delivers a liquid chemical mixture that may be composed of various amounts of nicotine, propylene glycol, and other chemicals.
Health Canada Advises Canadians Not to Use Electronic Cigarettes - Health Canada Advisory 2009-03-27
..... That wasn’t the way I had pictured this turning out. I had had great reception on the vaping issues everywhere else I brought it up. What was up with this? How was I going to deal with this huge bureaucracy? I was one employee of 16,000 employed across the province.
Stay tuned …..
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