The province announced Monday (July 20) that strict regulations for vaping will come into effect for immediately.
The rules, some of which have been previously announced in November, include limiting nicotine to 20 milligrams/millilitre. Health Minister Adrian Dix said that amount would bring nicotine content per pod to the amount in 20 cigarettes, which would match European Union standards. Dix said the EU has done a better job of controlling vaping among young people.
Vaping products in B.C. are not allowed to be sold to youth under the age of 19, however, Dix said there has been an “exponential growth in their use” among young people.
He blamed an “aggressive campaign over time to promote vaping products among youth,” noting that youth vaping is linked to a sevenfold increase in the chances of smoking cigarettes as an adult.
Education Minister Rob Fleming said vaping companies “disguise toxins with harmless sounding flavours like cotton candy.”
The sale of non-tobacco flavours will be restricted to adult-only stores, while all vaping products will have plain packaging with health warnings on them. New stores will have to bring in these changes immediately while existing retailers will have until Sept. 15.
Advertising for vaping products will also be restricted in areas where youth spend significant time, including at bus stops and in malls.
Dix said the rules were meant to go into effect at the end of March but the province chose to delay to focus on the COVID-19 pandemic. The provincial tax on vaping products was increased to 20 per cent on Jan. 1.
“This is a necessary public health step to protect young people from vaping,” Dix said.
In addition, Fleming said the province’s plans include a youth-led anti-vaping social media campaign was launched in February. Dubbed the “evaporate” campaign,” the province said it’s garnered over 27 million digital impressions.
When Dix asked if there were worries about increased regulations sparking a black market, the health minister said people under the age of 18 are already buying vaping products, and the nicotine requirements will hopefully make them less potent.
“It is not allowed now but has occurred nonetheless,” he said.
However, the province’s new regulations came under fire from the Convenience Industry Council of Canada, a group that represents convenience stores in the country.
The council said the rules were misguided and “dangerous public policy.”
“All the available evidence shows that convenience stores outperform specialty retail shops in the responsible retailing of age-restricted products,” the council said in a statement. It cited a Centre for Addiction and Mental Health report released in 2019 that showed convenience stores were among “the least common source of vaping products for youth,” although the study was carried out in Ontario.
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