Canada Bill S-5

Educating your MP about vaping in Canada

A practical guide for small business owners & workers in the independent vape industry

Version 1.1: 17-03-12 Created by Amelia Howard


  • Why you need to meet with MP
  • How to meet.
  • Goals of meeting.
  • The meeting: what to say, what not to say, tips, resources, etc.
  • Following up
  • Myths about vaping that need to be dispelled.

Why you need to meet with your MP

  • MPs are not going to know that there is anything wrong with Bill S-5 unless you tell them.
  • Personal meetings are proven to be the most effective way to persuade decision makers (far better than phone-calls or letters).
  • As a business owner in the MP’s riding your opinion carries more weight than others.
  • You are a leader in your area.
  • You contribute to the economy, to the tax base, you employ constituents
  • You should set up a meeting with the MP(s) of any ridings where you have a business location as well as the riding you live in.

How to get a meeting

  • Call the MP’s office during normal office hours. The number can be found on their website.
  • Do NOT just communicate your position to the person who answers the phone. You are a business owner in the MP’s riding — you can get further up the chain than a normal person.

Tell the person that picks up:

“My name is ____. I am a small business owner in MP ____’s riding. There is a bill (bill S-5) moving through parliament right now that is extremely threatening to my business, my employees, and my customers. As soon as possible, I was hoping I could speak to MP _____, or a member of their staff.”

• If they ask you for a summary of the issue:

“Bill S-5 will introduce restrictions likely to cause my business to fail. The bill also prevents me from honestly describing my products, and from giving customers the information they need in order to use the products for harm reduction.”

  • Take the first available meeting with the MP (or their staff if the MP is for whatever reason not available)
  • Be polite & respectful with every person you speak to. Say “thank you” a lot and thank them for their help even if they aren’t helpful.

Goals of the meeting

  • Your MP is busy. They probably don’t know much about vaping. You do not have a lot of time to go through every detail of Bill S-5 or the vaping industry in this meeting.
  • The first goal of the meeting is to begin a positive relationship with your MP & set yourself up as an expert on
    the topic. Give them a BRIEF background on vapour technology and the vapour industry, which they likely don’t know much about.
  • The second goal is to get the message across that Bill S-5 is a grave threat to your business and your ex-smoking customers.

What to say to your MP

  • Bill S-5 would make it illegal to truthfully tell customers that vaping is less harmful than combustible cigarettes. It makes it illegal to share peer reviewed science with customers.
  • Bill S-5 would severely diminish access to low-risk, smoke-free products that are being used to reduce the harm from smoking. Explain to your MP that the variety of e-liquid flavours and devices is vital to helping people switch to low-risk products and stay smoke-free. Bill S-5 would ban most of the popular flavours that are helping people stay smoke-free.
  • Bill S-5 will likely eliminate many or most of the products you currently sell and bring in regulations that are extremely burdensome for small businesses. It will likely result in American tobacco companies moving in and taking over the entire market while independent Canadian businesses will be forced to close.
  • Bill S-5 has drawn criticism from constitutional experts and public health experts in Canada.
  • Explain to them that you support reasonable regulations for products. Things like minimum age for purchase, child-resistant packaging, informative labelling, product standards, etc, are important to the industry, and that the industry has voluntarily adopted standards on its own in the absence of federal regulation.
  • Don’t list off all the ways you want to be regulated, but it is important that they don’t think you oppose any rules for the industry at all. Emphasis should be placed on ‘REASONABLE regulation.’
  • Bring samples of the kinds of products you sell that your MP can handle and look at if they are interested. They need to see that the products are already regulated as consumer products.
  • Important: Your MP is probably not aware of the difference between the vaping industry and the tobacco industry. They are likely unfamiliar with what goes on in a vape shop, and the role you play in helping your customers switch.
  • Explain to your MP that tobacco companies answer to transnational shareholders. Vape shops, on the other hand, answer to their ex smoking customers.
  • Consider bringing one of your customers to the meeting to explain, from the consumer point of view, the important services and support they get from your shop. Bring someone with a compelling story — a story that makes it easy for you to (honestly) say something like “… and this is why I quit my job in ___ to run a vape shop”

Stay Focused

  • Do NOT: Freestyle or improvise in your meeting. It’s easy to get side-tracked on non-issues and waste all of your time, or say something that may inadvertently undermine the points you want to get across
  • DO: Use notes. As a courtesy, ask permission from your MP. You can say something along the lines of “I’m a little nervous, do you mind if I use my notes so I don’t forget anything?”

What NOT to say to your MP

  • DO NOT express an opinion on politically contentious issues like whether or not it should be legal to sell to minors. If they ask you about it, you should reply that you follow what the law says. You should also note that data from Statistics Canada shows that regular use by adolescents is extremely rare.
  • DO NOT say ANYTHING negative about the industry or other vaping businesses. Keep the interaction positive, except for your message which should be that this will put you out of business if it passes. Politicians don’t distinguish between you and the rest of your industry. Anything bad you say about other businesses will reflect on you.
  • DO NOT bring up problems that they don’t mention (even if you’re offering solutions to those) .
  • DO NOT try to negotiate regulations with your MP. All they need to know from you is that what is on the table is bad, except for common sense regulations like restrictions on sales to minors and child-resistant packaging.

Know your business

And have answers to the following questions (if you are asked)
  • How many employees you have
  • How long you’ve been open
  • An estimate of how many customers you serve
  • How much you pay in taxes.
  • What causes your business contributes to and if you’re a member of any local business organizations (BIAs, Chamber of Commerce, etc)
  • What are the most popular flavours you sell (and who buys candy/dessert flavours)
  • Other facts about your business. Do a little bit of studying yourself so that you can come back with answers if asked.

Resources you could leave with your MP

Following up

  • It is vital that immediately after your meeting with your MP, you follow up.
  • Send a thank you email to your MP’s office. Thank them, and any staff you interacted with for their time. Mention you will be in touch.
  • Send a follow up letter to your MP summarizing the key problems for your business, for you, and for your employees.
  • Offer to be a resource for any future questions they have.
  • Remember: the meeting is the first step in what will hopefully be a productive relationship with your MP.

Myths about Bill S-5

  • Myth: Bill S-5 will make vaping products available to adults for harm reduction.
    Reality: The bill makes nicotine for e-cigarettes legal. But along with this “legalization” comes a regimethat could easily make many if not most products available on the market today illegal. E.g. it banscurrently legal zero nicotine flavoured e-liquids (dessert/drinks/confectionary) & hardware testingrequirements & document are not specified: there is no guarantee that companies will be able to affordthese requirements.
  • Myth: Bill S-5 establishes reasonable regulations.
    Reality: by and large, the regulatory regime treats vapour products as though that are the same ascigarettes. BUT regulation should be proportionate to risk. Considering that vapour products are not likelyto exceed 5% the risk of smoking, treating vapour products like cigarettes is wildly inappropriate.
  • Myth: Bill S-5 will not affect “responsible” businesses that only sell to adults.
    Reality: The entire independent industry is deeply threatened by Bill S-5.
  • That Bill S-5 is balanced.
    Reality: There is no formal harm reduction mandate in the bill. The legalization of nicotine containing ecigarettes is being used to give the impression of “liberalization” yet the formal justification for theregulations in the bill is based in gateway mythology. The existence of the entire vapour industry is atstake. Moreover, Bill S-5 will likely create a new black market for several products that are currently legal.

Myths about the product

  • Myth: Flavours exist solely to attract adolescents to a lifetime of nicotine addiction.
    Reality: Flavours (even candy and dessert) are extremely important to adults’ smoke free journey (see e.g. Farsalinos et al 2013). It is overwhelmingly adult smokers and ex-smokers, that buy and use these products to reduce harm and prevent “relapse” to cigarettes.
  • Myth: Vaping is dangerous.
    Reality: According comprehensive evidence reviews by prestigious health groups and medical organizations like the Royal College of Physicians, E-cigarettes are unlikely to pose more than 5% of the risk of combustible cigarettes.
  • Myth: Vaping isn’t effective
    Reality: Nicotine without smoke is a proven method of stopping smoking. Vaping is proving much more popular than NRT as a substitute and competitor for tobacco cigarettes. “E-cigarettes appear to be effective when used by smokers as an aid to quitting smoking” (Royal College of Physicians, 2016).

Myths about the industry

  • Myth: The vaping industry is marketing to youth.
    Fact: The vapor industry is driven by consumer demand. Vapor consumers are almost entirely adult smokers and former smokers seeking a low-risk alternative to cigarettes. Given the large existing pool of consumers (smokers), there is absolutely no motivation for vapor businesses to target marketing to young people. In fact, according to 2015 Statistics Canada data, 15 to 19- year-olds reported NO DAILY USE of e-cigarettes. Among the same age group, only 5% reported OCCASIONAL use.
  • Myth: The vaping industry is the tobacco industry or behaves like the tobacco industry.
    Fact: The vapor industry in Canada is predominantly small, independent businesses established and run by former smokers who switched to vaping. Recent Canadian survey research by Shiplo et al (2017) found that current of e-cigarettes use is almost entirely concentrated among smokers.
  • Myth: The vaping industry is “the wild west”
    Fact: Reasonable regulations are important to the industry, and that the industry has voluntarily adopted standards such as minimum age for purchase and child-resistant packaging, ingredient listing, and warning labels, on its own in the absence of federal regulation. Overly restrictive regulation will drive consumers to the black market and expose them to unnecessary risks.

Is vaping a gateway to smoking?

  • Myth: Vaping is a “gateway to smoking”; vaping renormalizes smoking
    Reality: “Available evidence to date indicates that e-cigarettes are being used almost exclusively as safer alternatives to smoked tobacco, by confirmed smokers who are trying to reduce harm to themselves or
    others from smoking, or to quit smoking completely” (Royal College of Physicians, 2016)
  • Myth: Youth are attracted to e-cigarette flavours.
    Reality: There are numerous editorials and commentary about this but little evidence to back up the claim (O’Leary et al 2016). Sweet flavours have been around for some time in Canada yet data show that youth do not regularly use e-cigarettes. A US experimental study showed that abstinent teens exhibited almost no interest in trying vapour devices, regardless of flavour (Shiffman et al 2015).


  • Farsalinos, K. E., Romagna, G., Tsiapras, D., Kyrzopoulos, S., Spyrou, A., & Voudris, V. (2013). Impact of Flavour Variability on Electronic Cigarette Use Experience: An Internet Survey. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 10(12), 7272– 7282.
  • O’Leary, R., MacDonald, M., Stockwell, T., & Reist, D. (2017). Clearing the Air: A systematic review on the harms and benefits of e-cigarettes and vapour devices. Victoria, BC: Centre for Addictions Research of BC.
  • Royal College of Physicians. Nicotine without smoke: Tobacco harm reduction. London: RCP, 2016.
  • Shiffman, S., Sembower, M. A., Pillitteri, J. L., Gerlach, K. K., & Gitchell, J. G. (2015). The Impact of Flavor Descriptors on Nonsmoking Teens’ and Adult Smokers’ Interest in Electronic Cigarettes. Nicotine & Tobacco Research: Official Journal of the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco, 17(10), 1255–1262.
  • Shiplo S, Czoli CD, Hammond D. E-cigarette use in Canada: prevalence and patterns of use
    in a regulated market. BMJ Open 2015;5: e007971. doi:10.1136/ bmjopen-2015-007971


  • This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. To view a copy of this license, visit or send a letter to Creative Commons, PO Box 1866, Mountain View, CA 94042, USA.
  • Anyone may share (copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format) and/or adapt (remix, transform, and build upon the material) for any purpose, even commercially, under the following terms:
  • Attribution — You must give appropriate credit, provide a link to the license, and indicate if changes were made. You may do so in any reasonable manner, but not in any way that suggests the licensor endorses you or your use.
  • ShareAlike — If you remix, transform, or build upon the material, you must distribute your contributions under the same license as the original.

About this document

  • This is a working document intended to provide practical advice to Canadian vendors on meeting with their MPs about Bill S-5. It was created by Amelia Howard, a PhD candidate in Sociology at the University of Waterloo who studies the impact of regulations on the independent vape industry. She is also an independent, unpaid advocate for vaping which she believes is a promising solution to smoking harms in Canada. Amelia has no financial interest in vaping, receives no commercial funding for her research or advocacy work, and was not compensated by anyone for the creation of this document. She is solely responsible for the contents of these slides, including any errors.
  • Thanks to Alex Clark (CASAA), Jim McDonald, Gillian Golden (IVVA) and Thomas Kirsop the American Vaping Association and others who provided resources, advice and feedback.

Reproduced with kind permission from the original document 


2 comments on “Canada Bill S-5
  1. Tracy Van Mook says:

    Excellent resource for businesses. Now what about individuals? I, too, as a private citizen, would like to have a say in how these vaping laws are formed.

    Is there a document available for vapors in Canada to fill out that do not work in the industry to contact their MP’s? Or a petition we can sign?

    • Amelia says:

      Hi Tracy,

      That’s a great question, and you absolutely should be getting involved as a private citizen. Because it’s a bit of a process to establish relationships with MPs like businesses need to be doing, I wrote this first, but every consumer who cares about vaping in Canada should do as much as they can to be heard. I’ll try to get a document aimed at individuals as soon as I can 🙂

      Here are some on the fly suggestions of what you can do:

      1. Contact senators (as soon as possible). Canada’s Bill S-5 has gone through second reading in the Senate and is now referred to the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology for study. As a consumer, you are an expert in these technologies and how they helped you and your perspective should be considered. I recommend sending a letter to each senator on the committee (list is available here:

      points I would emphasize (choose what you’re comfortable speaking to):
      -> the importance of flavours and flavour choice to consumers. They are set to ban large swaths of flavours. Consumers should let them know that this forces us (I’m a consumer too) to have to either choose from a small selection of products, or go to the black market.
      -> how important it was for you to be able to try and handle the products when you first began vaping, the kinds of services in vape shops that help people make the switch
      -> how important it is for consumers to get accurate information on the relative risk of products.
      -> how forcing new vapers outside around smokers could cause some to keep smoking.

      Personal stories work. Tell yours. Say why you were successful with vaping, if you’d tried other ways to quit smoking and why this worked, and really, how the new law could prevent others from having your success.

      Importantly, you can mail these letters to senators postage free. I would definitely recommend sending one copy to each senator by email AND in the mail. This should be done ASAP. In my opinion, the message they need to hear is that legalizing nicotine for vaping is good, but not if it means breaking everything else and making currently legal products like flavoured e-liquids illegal, or stopping consumers from knowing what they are buying, how to use it, and that it is reduce-risk.

      2. You can and should be contacting your MP. I would wait until the bill gets closer the house of commons, as it will probably change. Or you can call now, and then follow up. You can track the bill’s progress here:

      In terms of contacting MPs, you may be able to get a meeting but possibly not. What you definitely want to do is call the office AND write a letter (that you’d mail postage free, and send via email). Again, you want to tell your story, be honest, personal, polite, and be very clear about the parts of the bill (e.g. flavour ban, use ban) that put you and other smokers who need to switch at risk.

      3. Get your friends and family to be contacting their MPs, as well, also by calling and writing MPs (again, I’d wait until the study in Senate is done so you have a current version to respond to – and watch this space for an update for consumers).

      4. Another thing you can do right now is reach out and talk to vape shop owners. Bring them a copy of this guide, or ask them what steps they have taken towards advocacy. Many aren’t aware that the bill is as damaging as it is, or they are uniquely more likely to get actual facetime with MPs as business owners. If you have a good relationship with vape shop owners too, and have the time, you may suggest they bring you along to a meeting with their MP, so you can give a specifically consumer perspective. Failing that, it’s always good to contact any vape shops you know of and try to make sure they know they should be “lobbying”, and that it is important to you, as a customer, that they fight for better regulations.

      There are probably going to be lots of petitions circulating – and while I don’t want to discourage signing them, there are much better and more effective ways to advocate as an individual. So – sign any petition you want, but more importantly… all of the above can make a real and meaningful difference that will resonate with decision makers.

      So… that’s a little on the fly and I hope to have something out soon – but hopefully that gives you a place to start.