On July 8, 2020, Health Canada announced final Vaping Products Promotion Regulations, which set out measures to further restrict the promotion of vaping products to youth under the Tobacco and Vaping Products Act (TVPA).
The Government of Canada is taking regulatory action to address the rise in youth vaping and to protect a new generation of Canadians from the risk of nicotine addiction and other vaping-related harms.
These regulations are necessary because too many young people are using vaping products—and they are doing so without understanding the risks. According to the 2018–2019 Canadian Student Tobacco, Alcohol and Drugs Survey, the prevalence of vaping among students has doubled since 2016-17. In fact, 20% of students had vaped within 30 days of being surveyed.
To address this rise in youth vaping, additional measures being introduced under the TVPA focus on protecting youth from inducements to using vaping products and enhancing public awareness about the health hazards and the harms of vaping by:
Limiting youth exposure to vaping product ads in public spaces
The Regulations will prohibit the promotion of vaping products by means of advertising done in a manner that allows the advertising to be seen or heard by young persons.
For example, advertising in places such as recreational facilities, public transit facilities, broadcast media, in publications, including those online, will be prohibited, if the ads can be seen or heard by anyone under eighteen years of age.
Limiting youth exposure to promotion of vaping products at points of sale
The Regulations will prohibit the display of vaping products and vaping product-related brand elements at points of sale in manners that allow the product or brand elements to be seen by young persons. This includes online points of sale. Visual advertising that only indicates the availability and price of vaping products will be permitted at points of sale, as long as it complies with the conditions set out in the Regulations.
For example, in locations that permit youth access, vaping products must be stored out of sight as well as any vaping advertising that is displayed at these locations. Retail storefronts must also take down any signs and banners that promote vaping products if they can be seen by youth (aged 18 and under). These measures also apply to online points of sale.
As a result, these measures will help protect youth from inducements to using vaping products.
Requiring a health warning statement on all ads for vaping products
The Regulations will require the display of a health warning statement about the hazards of vaping products in all permitted vaping product advertisements. The industry will be required to convey one health warning from Health Canada’s List of Health Warnings for Vaping Product Advertising in advertisements, as well as convey this information in both official languages, in instances where the advertisement is in both official languages, or in a language other than the official languages. It must also attribute these warnings to Health Canada on audio and visual vaping advertisements.
The following warnings are featured in the List.
WARNING 1: Vaping products contain nicotine, a highly addictive chemical.
WARNING 2: Vaping products release chemicals that may harm your health.
As a result of these measures, health warnings on permitted advertising will help inform Canadians of the health hazards of vaping products and include an attribution to Health Canada.
Federal, provincial and territorial responsibilities and collaboration
The Regulations do not conflict with provincial and territorial promotion restrictions, including in the retail environment. As such, the Regulations prohibit the display of vaping products at retail establishments only in provinces that do not already have such measures in place.
With regard to the requirement that all vaping product advertisements convey a health warning, the Regulations will not apply where a vaping product advertisement must convey a health warning required by a province or territory. Successful implementation of these new measures are supported by ongoing cooperation and coordination between the federal government, the provinces and territories, municipalities, non-governmental organizations, community agencies and the private sector.
Vaping Compliance and Enforcement
Enforcement actions to address non-compliance may include issuance of warning letters, seizures, and/or prosecutions. The penalties for not complying with the Regulations are set out under Part VI of the TVPA. For example:
- For the restrictions on advertising, any person who contravenes the requirements is guilty of an offence and liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding $500,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years, or to both in accordance with Section 47 under the TVPA.
- For the restrictions on the display of vaping products at retail, any person who contravenes the requirements is guilty of an offence and liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding $25,000 in accordance with Section 48 of TVPA.
- For the requirement to display a health warning, every person who contravenes the requirements is guilty of an offence and liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding $50,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months, or to both in accordance with Section 44 under the TVPA.
Health Canada inspectors conduct on-site inspections at retail locations and online to verify vaping industry compliance with the TVPA. Actions taken by an inspector to address non-compliance may include a range of enforcement activities (including warning letters, seizures and/or prosecution).
As a regulator, Health Canada is committed to transparency and openness to further strengthen confidence in the regulatory decisions. This includes sharing the results of its compliance and enforcement activities related to vaping products. In this role, Health Canada posts quarterly Vaping Compliance and Enforcement Reports of observed non-compliances and related enforcement actions taken—not including additional compliance activities, which may have occurred following the inspection.
Compliance and enforcement measures in the context of COVID-19
Compliance promotion activities will be followed by a progressive compliance monitoring and enforcement approach that will take into account any specific circumstances that may result from disruptions associated with the public health measures put in place to address COVID-19.
Canadians are encouraged to report any suspected violations to Health Canada by email at email@example.com and to their local authorities such as municipal public health inspectors, provincial inspectors or law enforcement.