OTTAWA, Nov. 26, 2013 /CNW/ - Nearly 400 tobacco control professionals from across Canada and around the world are gathering at the Westin Ottawa on November 26-27 for the 8th National Conference on Tobacco or Health. Delegates will be sharing knowledge and discussing the future of tobacco control in Canada.
The conference kicked off on November 25 with an evening youth-led session on youth engagement in tobacco control, which followed an advocacy event on Parliament Hill earlier in the day. At this event, more than 100 youth called on the federal government to "freeze the industry", including a national ban on flavours in tobacco industry products.
An engaging discussion on e-cigarettes highlighted the opening plenary on November 26, with presentations from Linda Bauld, deputy director of the UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies; Bill Godshall, executive director of Smoke Free Pennsylvania; and Melodie Tilson, director of policy for the Non-Smokers' Rights Association.
"The status quo for e-cigarettes in Canada is like the Wild West, and it just doesn't work," said Tilson. "We need to ensure that e-cigarette policy minimizes the risks by having manufacturing standards, clear and accurate labeling that informs the public of health benefits and risks, and regulatory controls similar those on tobacco products - all while maximizing the effectiveness of e-cigarettes as a quit aid."
E-cigarettes are a controversial issue facing tobacco control in Canada and around the world as a strong base of evidence does not yet exist to show either the benefit as a quit aid or the potential long-term health risks. Godshall shared how that controversy is playing out in the United States of America where there is a split among tobacco control advocates, some who see e-cigarettes as a way to save lives while others see them as just another tobacco industry product.
Through the rest of the conference, Canada's broad tobacco control landscape will be examined, reviewed and discussed, from prevention (taxation, product regulation and advertising bans) to protection (smoke-free spaces) to cessation (e-cigarettes, nicotine replacement therapy). The conference wraps up on November 27 with a closing plenary on tobacco control in Canada - past and future.
SOURCE: National Conference on Tobacco or Health (NCTH)
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