Minister’s Letter to Retail Associations Concerning Youth Vaping

Dear Retail Association:

I am writing to you today about a trend that I am deeply concerned about – the rapidly increasing rate at which Canadian youth are trying and using vaping products. I am sure you are aware of media reports about increases in youth vaping and of research showing similar alarming trends across North America as new products are introduced, including pods and salts, which can contain very high levels of nicotine.

I believe that all of us have a responsibility to protect the health and safety of young Canadians. I am calling on you, as a group representing retailers, to do your part to encourage your members to comply with the law to prevent young people from having access to vaping products or promotions or inducements to use vaping products.

Nicotine is highly addictive and can have harmful impacts on the brain, affecting memory and concentration in everyone and brain development in youth and young adults. Early exposure to nicotine in adolescence may also increase the severity of future dependence to nicotine and tobacco. We need to protect our young people from the risks and harms associated with vaping nicotine.

Preventing nicotine addiction among youth requires a comprehensive public health approach involving many players, including governments, parents, youth, educators, health professionals and retailers.

For our part, the Government of Canada has established a strong regulatory framework for vaping products. The Tobacco and Vaping Products Act, which came into force in May 2018, established a national minimum age of access for vaping products and significantly restricts the promotion of vaping products, including bans on lifestyle advertising or promotions that are appealing to youth.

As you may be aware, Health Canada has stepped up its compliance and enforcement action over the past few months against individuals or corporations that are not respecting their obligations under the new law. Going forward, Health Canada will also be inspecting more retail establishments, including 1,000 vaping specialty stores and more than 2,000 convenience stores in 2019, while continuing to monitor online sales and promotion of vaping products and taking action where necessary.

The Government is also seriously considering putting in place additional regulatory controls, including:

Health Canada is also undertaking an extensive public education campaign – through advertising, social media and experiential events in schools – to increase awareness about the harms and risks associated with vaping product use targeted at young Canadians aged 13 to 18.

Today, I am encouraging you to do your part to protect young Canadians from accessing vaping products or promotions or inducements to use these products. This includes diligently verifying ID for anyone looking to purchase these products to ensure they are of age and not undertaking any promotions that might be appealing to youth or encourage or induce young people to use vaping products.

The Department will be providing you additional information to assist you in complying with the law.

I also encourage you and your retail industry colleagues and partners to consider what further actions you could take collectively to protect our young people, such as a commitment to learn and share best practices across your retail network for keeping these products out of the hands of youth.

Collectively, we need to work together and take proactive steps to protect young Canadians from the risks and harms of vaping nicotine and reverse this concerning trend in youth use.

If you wish to discuss your responsibilities as a vaping product retailer under federal law or offer any comments or questions, I invite you to contact the Health Canada Tobacco and Vaping Compliance and Enforcement Program at hc.tcp.questions-plt.sc@canada.ca.

I hope we can count on you to help protect the health and safety of youth and all Canadians.

Yours sincerely,

The Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor, P.C., M.P.

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