On the heels of a new poll released this week which found three in four Canadians favour a temporary ban on the sale and distribution of e-cigarettes, the BC government announced it will be restricting vapour product access, flavours, nicotine content, packaging, and advertising.
Speaking at a press conference on Thursday, BC Health Minister Adrian Dix said some vaping manufacturers “are using flavours and advertising to entice and normalize vaping for youth – introducing a new generation to very high levels of a very addictive drug.”
That, he said, “is why we are bringing in the most comprehensive plan in the country, and supporting young people to end this dangerous trend.”
The new regulations will restrict the amount of nicotine in vapour pods and liquid to 20mg/ml and will require plain packaging for vapour products that include health warnings.
Public advertising of vapour products will also be restricted in areas where youth spend time, such as bus shelters or community parks. The sale of vapour flavours, other than tobacco flavours, will only be allowed in age-restricted shops.
Dix said the regulations will be supported by a youth-led anti-vaping social media campaign to de-normalize vaping.
“When young people are the ones driving change, we know it gives their peers the energy and motivation to be part of the solution,” said BC Education Minister Rob Fleming.
As part of their efforts, the Province has also partnered with the BC Lung Association to work with youth to build a vaping prevention toolkit that has been piloted in some schools.
The initiative is set to “begin expanding immediately” to schools across the province, providing information for educators, parents, and youth to use when having discussions and making choices about vaping.
In addition, QuitNow, BC’s quit-smoking resource, will be updated to include new quit-vaping resources for youth.
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To deter harmful behaviour even further, the government also intends to introduce legislation later this month to increase the provincial sales tax (PST) rate applied to vaping products from 7% to 20%, which would make British Columbia the first province in Canada to introduce a specific tax rate related to vaping products.
The new tax rate would go into effect on January 1, 2020, and would be applied to all vaping devices, the substance or juice that is used with the vaping device, and any vaping part or accessory.
The legislation would also include increasing the tobacco tax rate by two cents. Effective on January 1, the tax applied would be 29.5 cents per cigarette and 39.5 cents per gram of loose tobacco.
Nicotine gum, patches, and similar smoking cessation products would continue to be exempt from the PST.
“Our government is committed to deterring young people from turning to vapour products out of convenience and cost,” said BC Finance Minister Carole James. “We know from taxing tobacco that teenagers respond the most to price increases and we are now introducing a similar strategy for vaping.”
The regulations will come into force in Spring 2020, following stakeholder engagement.