TORONTO — Following extensive consultation, Ontario is taking further action to protect children and youth from the health risks of vaping, while maintaining adults’ access to smoking cessation options.
Today, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, announced that Ontario is proposing regulatory changes that, if approved, would limit where flavoured and high nicotine vapour products are sold at retail. At the same time, the province will expand prevention initiatives and services to quit vaping.
“Young Ontarians are increasingly using and becoming addicted to nicotine vaping products, putting their health at risk,” said Elliott. “I’ve heard directly from concerned parents who grow more worried each and every day about the health of their kids. As a mother myself, I know there’s a clear case for action to curb the alarming increase in youth vaping. That’s why we are taking a balanced approach that protects our children and youth while also avoiding fuelling an underground market for unsafe vapour products.”
Ontario has consulted with health care experts, industry partners, parents and youth to develop protective measures to help keep children and youth safe. The proposed changes include:
- Increasing access to services to help people quit vaping by expanding Telehealth Ontario;
- Restricting the retail sale of flavoured vapour products to specialty vape stores and cannabis retail stores, which are restricted to people aged 19 and over, with the exception of menthol, mint and tobacco flavours;
- Restricting the retail sale of high nicotine vapour products (more than 20mg/ml) to specialty vape stores;
- Working with major online retailers of vapour products and stakeholders to ensure compliance with age-based sales restrictions for online sales;
- Requiring specialty vape stores to ensure that vapour product displays, and promotions are not visible from outside their stores;
- Enhancing mental health and addiction services and resources to include vaping and nicotine addiction; and
- Establishing a Youth Advisory Committee to provide advice on vaping issues.
Ontario is also calling on the federal government to implement a national tax on vaping products.
“Vaping and the associated risks are a national health concern,” said Rod Phillips, Minister of Finance. “I have strongly advocated to the federal government to work with Ontario and other provinces and territories on a national approach to taxing vapour products. Keeping kids safe is a national health concern and the evidence is clear – a tax could be an effective way to deter young people from vaping.”
A national vaping tax would minimize regulatory burden and ensure a consistent tax treatment across the country.
Ontario expects the proposed regulation changes, if approved, would come into effect on May 1, 2020, except for the regulatory amendment to restrict the retail sale of high nicotine vapour products, which the province expects would come into effect on July 1, 2020, if approved, to align with the federal changes to labelling of nicotine on products.
- These proposals are in addition to previous action to ban the promotion of vapour products in non-specialty stores, as well as a Minister’s Order requiring public hospitals in Ontario to report statistical, non-identifying information related to incidences of vaping-related severe pulmonary disease.
- Evidence indicates there has been a 74 per cent increase in vaping among Canadian youth between the ages of 16 to 19 from 2017 to 2018 (Hammond et al, 2019).
- In 2017, nearly 11 per cent of Ontario youth between grades 7 to 12 used e-cigarettes in the past year, with 19 per cent in grade 12 (Ontario Student Drug Use and Health Survey, 2017).
- Experience suggests increasing costs could be an effective way to reduce vaping use by young people as they are more price-sensitive than other consumers. Higher prices would further deter those who have never smoked from trying these products in the first place, helping to reduce the risks of nicotine addiction and unknown long-term health effects.