B.C. implements vaping action plan

Regulations restrict content, flavour, packaging, advertising and sale of vapour products

BRITISH Columbia is bringing into force regulations to fully implement the Province’s leading-edge vaping action plan, which was announced in November 2019.

The regulations restrict the content, flavour, packaging, advertising and sale of vapour products in British Columbia.

B.C.’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.

“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 Adrian Dix, Minister of Health. “That’s why we are bringing in regulations to keep vapour products away from developing lungs and to prevent nicotine addiction. We know youth are eager to get involved in this action, and I’ve seen promising work through early youth engagement to help influence their peers and stop this dangerous trend of 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 September 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.

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 Rob Fleming, Minister of Education. “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 B.C. 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.

With provincial support, last year the BC Lung Association created and distributed a youth vaping prevention toolkit to all K-12 schools in British Columbia. The toolkit provides information for educators, parents and youth to use when having discussions and making choices about vaping.

The Province 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 Jan. 1, 2020.

B.C.’s youth vaping action plan is the most comprehensive plan in Canada to address vaping by youth. It focuses on stopping youth vaping, while ensuring vaping can still be used as a harm reduction tool by adults.

Dr. Bonnie Henry, Provincial Health Officer, said: “Providing young people in B.C. information about the risks of vaping, while restricting the advertising and flavours used to make it attractive, is an important step in stemming the use of this addictive and dangerous product. This approach mirrors the effective measures we used to reduce youth smoking, and continuing to work with youth on this action plan can ensure we protect a new generation from nicotine.”

Christopher Lam, President and CEO, BC Lung Association, said: “We applaud the B.C. government’s determination to protect our youth from the harms of vaping. Increased measures to cap allowable nicotine dosages, further limit advertising and restrict access to flavoured products are very positive, as is the Province’s commitment to giving youth an active voice and role in defining effective vaping education solutions.”

Jeff Sommers, Director, government relations and health promotion, Heart and Stroke BC and Yukon, said: “Heart and Stroke has been advocating for these changes for a long time and we applaud the provincial government for moving forward with such a bold and comprehensive plan to address the youth vaping crisis. Use and addiction of vape products among youth has skyrocketed. Flavours provide the attraction, while high nicotine content hooks them. This is why the government’s actions are so vital, as they will protect the health of our young people.”

Andrea Seale, Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Cancer Society, said: “We are deeply concerned by the dramatic increase in youth vaping. The new B.C. regulations are strong, containing a series of essential measures. The regulations, which we fully support, will significantly reduce youth vaping and will help prevent a new generation of youth from becoming addicted to nicotine through vaping products.”