Health Canada Proposes New Regulations on Electronic Cigarettes December 03, 2016 11:22

The Government of Canada recently introduced a new piece of legislation to take some control over the ever-expanding vaping industry. One part of the legislation was making it illegal to promote or sell e-cigarettes to anyone under the age of 18.

The changes were designed to discourage teenagers from vaping without preventing adults who wanted to use vaping as a stop-smoking measure being able to access them.

E-cigarettes, which are battery-powered vaporisers, are currently in a legal grey area. E-cigarettes that contain nicotine aren’t technically approved to be sold in Canada even though there are many shops throughout Canada that are selling them.

The Health Minister of Canada Jane Philpott has said that there is evidence that using vaping products helps current smokers avoid the damages of smoking and quit smoking.

There is also evidence, however, to suggest that they can be a gateway “drug” for younger people that convinces them to start smoking by giving them a nicotine addiction.

The changes that were unveiled on Tuesday will provide two pathways to formal approval by Ottawa. There is one for e-cigarettes designed to be used as a stop-smoking aid, with a separate path for vaping devices that don’t claim to help people stop smoking.

The federal legislation is aimed at federal responsibility. This includes how e-cigarettes are advertised, promoted, packaged and used in public places and federally regulated workplaces.

The proposals also aim to stop e-cigarette producers from making them available in flavours that are appealing to children, empower Health Canada to mandate that e-cigarettes come with health warnings, and keep workers in industries regulated by the government safe from second-hand vapour, which is how the government handles the dangers of second hand smoke.

Provincial governments and the vaping industry itself have been calling for Ottawa to come up with national guidelines for these e-cigarettes as they have become more popular. The latest data from the Canadian Tobacco, Alcohol and Drugs survey shows that 13% of Canadians aged over 15 have given e-cigarettes a try, which is up from the 9% recorded in the 2013 survey.

For now though almost every providence has created their own e-cigarette legislations with the exception of Alberta and Saskatchewan. The result is that different states have different rules, but every state with legislation has banned the sale of e-cigarettes to under-18s.

For now there’s not been a lot of research into e-cigarettes. Even the results of the studies that have been done on the effects of e-cigarettes can be conflicting. Health Canada does acknowledge that the devices can benefit public health if they do in fact help people quit smoking, but they also warn that they could become dangerous if they are used as a gateway to proper cigarettes by teens who might not have started smoking otherwise.

One of the main parts of the legislation regulates e-cigarette health claims; such as the claim that vaping can help you quit smoking.

Another proposed idea is to give vaping products child-resistant packaging to protect children against potential nicotine poisoning.

The legislation also contains proposals to give all tobacco products plain packaging, which is similar to the law in countries such as Australia. Branding tobacco packages with logos and graphics would be a prohibited practice if the legislation passes.

The department announced in May that there would be three months of public consultation.