Backgrounder - Vaping Products

Backgrounder

November 2016

The Government of Canada has launched an ambitious tobacco control agenda for Canada, which includes banning menthol in most tobacco products, implementing plain packaging requirements, introducing a new approach to regulating vaping products, and modernizing Canada’s approach to tobacco control.

With respect to vaping products, the Government of Canada has introduced amendments that would establish the Tobacco and Vaping Products Act, a new legislative framework to regulate the manufacture, sale, labelling and promotion of these products in Canada.

The proposed legislation aims to protect youth from nicotine addiction and inducements to tobacco use, while allowing adults to legally access vaping products as a likely less harmful alternative to tobacco. The new legislation would apply to a range of devices and substances, such as e-liquids, and cover vaping products with and without nicotine. The proposed legislation includes provisions that would ban the sale and promotion of all vaping products to persons under 18, prohibit the promotion of flavours that appeal to youth, and create regulatory authority to mandate the display of health warning messages on vaping devices and refill packages.

Though scientific knowledge is still emerging, Health Canada recognizes that vaping products could bring public health benefits if they reduce tobacco-related death and disease by helping smokers quit or switch completely to a likely less harmful source of nicotine. However, vaping products could also bring public health harms. There is clear evidence that nicotine exposure during adolescence adversely affects cognitive function and development. Nicotine is also a potent and powerfully addictive substance, particularly for youth. There are concerns that vaping products could potentially lead to nicotine addiction, the use of tobacco products, and the renormalization of smoking behaviours. The proposed legislation would establish a flexible regime that can be adjusted as the science on vaping products develops.

The proposed legislation would remove vaping products with nicotine that are not marketed for a therapeutic purpose from the scope of the Food and Drugs Act, so that vaping products would be no less accessible than conventional tobacco products. The proposed legislation does, nonetheless, maintain a pathway for manufacturers to develop and seek approval to market vaping products with therapeutic claims.

The proposed legislation would also amend the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act (CCPSA) to make it clear that vaping products that do not make therapeutic claims, with and without nicotine, are subject to the CCPSA in respect to the safety of the product. This would enable the Government to use authorities under the CCPSA to enforce the prohibition of products that pose a danger to human health or safety and also require measures such as child-resistant packaging to help protect children from the risk of nicotine poisoning.

The Non Smokers’ Health Act would also be amended to protect those in federally-regulated workplaces from the potential harms of second-hand vapour. Finally, the proposed legislation would harmonize compliance and enforcement authorities for both tobacco and vaping products with other modern statutes administered by Health Canada. 


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