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Nova Scotia sets tough maximum nicotine level for vaping products

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Nova Scotia has approved a new regulatory cap on e-liquids and cigarettes making it the first province to adopt a maximum nicotine concentration of 20 milligrams per millilitre.

An order in council signed in May amends the province’s Tobacco Access Act regulations and takes effect Sept. 1.

The move follows an amendment passed in March that banned flavoured vaping products.

The Canadian Cancer Society says Nova Scotia’s maximum nicotine level is the same standard that has been in place in the 28-country European Union for some years.

In an email, the provincial Health Department says the regulatory changes will enhance efforts to protect youth from the harms of nicotine by reducing their exposure to highly addictive concentrations.

A 2016-17 survey suggested 37% of Nova Scotia students in grades 7 to 12 had tried vaping at least once – one of the highest rates in Canada.

In a news release, the Canadian Cancer Society noted a recent study by University of Waterloo researchers that found youth vaping among 16-19 year-olds in Canada more than doubled over a two-year period, from 2017 to 2019.

The study, published in JAMA Pediatrics, found that youth vaping increased from 8.4% in 2017 to 17.8% in 2019 – a 112% increase.

“This dramatic increase in youth vaping has been after tobacco companies entered the Canadian market for e-cigarettes following legalization of e-cigarettes with nicotine in May 2018,” the cancer society said.

It also noted that last November, British Columbia announced it would adopt a regulation for a maximum nicotine level of 20 milligrams per millilitre. The regulation is yet to be adopted.

The Quebec and federal governments have also said that they are considering the measure.

A vaping industry group said that the Nova Scotia government’s move would “make it harder for heavy smokers to quit and do little to combat access by youth.

“The result is that smokers may stay smoking, vapers may go back to smoking or vapers may try to obtain higher nicotine and flavoured products from the illicit market or from other provinces,” the Vaping Industry Trade Association said in a statement.