In what it said is “the most comprehensive plan in Canada to address vaping by youth,” the BC government said on Monday that new rules and regulations around youth vaping in the province are now in effect.
The plan was first announced back in November 2019, and the province said it focuses on stopping youth vaping, while ensuring vaping can still be used as a harm reduction tool by adults.
Among the rules are restrictions around the content, flavour, packaging, advertising, and sale of vapour products in British Columbia, the province said.
“We heard from young people across the province that vaping companies are targeting them with a product that poses real and serious health and addiction risks,” said BC Health Minister Adrian Dix. “That’s why we are bringing in regulations to keep vapour products away from developing lungs and to prevent nicotine addiction.”
The new E-Substances Regulation, under the Public Health Act, restricts the amount of nicotine in vapour pods and liquid to 20mg/ml, and requires retailers to sell only those vapour products that are plainly packaged and have labels with health warnings. New retailers planning to sell vape products will need to comply with the regulation immediately. Existing vapour-product retailers will have a short transition period until Sept. 15, 2020.
The regulation immediately prohibits all retailers from selling non-nicotine or nicotine-cannabis blended vapour products.
Changes to the Tobacco and Vapour Products Control Regulation ban advertising of vapour products in places where youth can access, hear, or see advertisements, such as bus shelters or community parks. They also restrict the sale of flavoured vapour products, which are attractive to youth, to adult-only shops.
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In its announcement, the province said BC’s ministries of Health and Education will also establish a provincial youth advisory council to develop, pilot, and launch youth-informed strategies to reduce vaping by young people.
The provincial youth advisory council will launch in September 2020 through a partnership between the ministries of Education and Health. The council will be established next month and will also monitor and evaluate the overall impact of the plan.
“Schools are the perfect place to talk with young people about the negative effects vaping can have on their health and development, so they have the knowledge they need to make decisions about the use of nicotine and tobacco,” said BC Education Minister Rob Fleming. “That’s why we worked with students and health experts to find the best ways to reach British Columbia’s youth and their families for a campaign that will go a long way in promoting healthy choices for kids.”
Other non-regulatory action under the province’s vaping action plan includes a youth-led anti-vaping social media campaign to de-normalize vaping. Youth throughout BC were engaged through regional youth advisory tables to provide guidance for the “evaporate” campaign. Launched in February 2020, the campaign has so far garnered over 27 million digital impressions.
The province said it is also providing support to vapers who want help to quit through the quit-smoking service QuitNow. QuitNow has been updated to include new quit-vaping information resources for youth and provides coaching by phone or text.
The action plan required the province to implement increased sales tax, which was implemented on January 1, 2020.