The Government of Canada’s new vision for addressing tobacco use includes modernizing Canada’s approach to tobacco control, introducing a new approach to regulating vaping products, and implementing plain and standardized packaging requirements for tobacco packaging and the products they contain.
With respect to vaping products, the passage of Bill S-5, An Act to amend the Tobacco Act and the Non-smokers’ Health Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, establishes the Tobacco and Vaping Products Act asa new legislative framework to regulate the manufacture, sale, labelling and promotion of these products in Canada.
Though evidence on the potential benefits and risks of vaping products is still emerging, Health Canada is of the view that while vaping products are harmful, they are less harmful than smoking cigarettes. Smokers who switch completely to vaping products can significantly reduce their exposure to toxic chemicals and carcinogens.
There is also clear evidence that nicotine exposure during adolescence adversely affects cognitive function and development. Nicotine is a potent and powerfully addictive substance, particularly for youth. Vaping products containing nicotine could potentially lead to addiction, the subsequent use of tobacco products, and the renormalization of smoking behaviours.
The Tobacco and Vaping Products Act provides a balanced framework for vaping products byprotecting youth and non-users of tobacco products from nicotine addiction and inducements to use tobacco, while allowing adults to legally access vaping products as a less harmful alternative to tobacco.
As a result of the passage of Bill S-5, vaping products that contain nicotine can now be legally sold as consumer products by retailers according to provincial or territorial legislation. The legislation bans the sale of non-prescription vaping products to persons under the age of 18 years. For vaping products purchased online, the seller must verify that the person taking delivery of the product is at least 18 years of age.
The legislation also prohibits the promotion of vaping products that are appealing to youth, such as the promotion of appealing flavours like candy. In addition, it creates the regulatory authority to mandate the display of information, including health warning messages on vaping products and their packages.
The Act also introduces restrictions to ensure that Canadians are not misled on the health hazards associated with vaping product use. Manufacturers are not permitted to promote their products by using heath benefit statements or comparisons to tobacco, unless the statements are authorized by regulations. Health Canada intends to introduce these regulations in the near future. Vaping product manufacturers who wish to market their products with health claims can continue to seek approval from Health Canada under the Food and Drugs Act and its regulations. To receive market authorization for such claims, manufacturers must submit clear scientific evidence to demonstrate that the product meets the applicable requirements for safety, efficacy and quality.
Health Canada will also propose regulations under the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act to address health and safety risks posed by potential electrical, mechanical and toxicological hazards related to vaping products. Until these are in place, the general prohibitions of the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act and the requirements of the Consumer Chemicals and Containers Regulations, 2001 will be applied to address these hazards. This includes the immediate application of labelling and child-resistant packaging requirements for vaping substances containing nicotine, to help protect children from the risk of nicotine poisoning.
Through Bill S-5, the Non-smokers’ Health Act has also been amended to protect Canadians from second-hand vapour. This means that, like smoking, vaping is now prohibited in federally regulated workspaces and certain modes of transportation.
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