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Ottawa’s vaping ad regulations kick in Friday

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Ottawa’s new rules restricting the promotion of vaping products are set to take effect this Friday (Aug. 7), while some point-of-sale regulations will be implemented on Sept. 6.

Health Canada published regulations July 8 prohibiting vaping advertisements in public spaces where youth may be exposed to them.

The nationwide ban on vaping ads applies to all retail locations and online stores that sell e-cigarettes, except for adult-only establishments, such as designated vaping shops. However, “permitted ads displayed where youth are not permitted convey a health warning about vaping product harms.”

This means that c-store operators across the country must remove all window, point-of-sale and in-store marketing materials, as well as product displays.

These requirements are applicable only when a province or territory does not already have such requirements in place. Ottawa stated in a release: “The Government of Canada remains concerned by the rise in youth vaping and is acting to address it.”

These new changes will further restrict the promotion of vaping products, to protect youth from being exposed to advertisements that can induce them to try vaping. It will now be prohibited to advertise vaping products in public spaces if the ads can be seen or heard by youth, whether in brick and mortar stores, online or other media channels.

In addition, the display of vaping products at point-of-sale where youth have access will be prohibited. These changes will also require that any permitted ads displayed where youth are not permitted convey a health warning about vaping product harms. These requirements are applicable only when a province or territory does not already have such requirements in place.”

Health Canada is also considering additional regulatory measures “that would further restrict the nicotine content of vaping products, further restrict flavours in vaping products, and require the vaping industry to provide information about their vaping products, including sales, ingredients, and research and development activities.”

Health Canada has invested more than $12 million over three years in a national vaping public education and prevention campaign.


Companies rush to pivot advertising plans during COVID-19 pandemic

As the COVID-19 pandemic started to spread, Tim Hortons reviewed its advertising plans and decided they no longer made sense as store closures, wide-scale layoffs and physical distancing upended life in Canada.

Instead, the coffee chain went back to the drawing board for two new ads. One informs customers how to buy doughnuts, double doubles and other products without going inside a restaurant, while the other follows Tim Hortons trucks delivering free coffee and doughnuts to essential workers.

“When we looked at what media we had committed to, we said: ‘There’s a better way,”’ said Hope Bagozzi, chief marketing officer at Tim Hortons.

Corporate spots acknowledging the pandemic have proliferated on TV breaks in recent weeks as companies grapple with how to fill previously purchased ad slots and what, if anything, they want to to say. How they proceed varies from brand to brand, but no one wants to risk appearing tone deaf during a national crisis.

“A lot of advertising – whether we want to admit it or not – is built on what has worked in the past,” said James Ansley, executive creative director at Grey Canada.

“It feels like right now, the rule book has been completely thrown out and we’re all trying to find our way through this.”

In the early days of the pandemic, Ansley saw companies do things that “felt a little bit … lacking in meaning,” such as spacing out their logos in a nod to physical distancing. McDonald’s Brazil, for example, separated its golden arches mid-March, but later reversed the decision after facing criticism.

Companies are now trying to do something meaningful, said Ansley, by trying to help people feel safe and secure.

Utilitarian ads are one such attempt.

Tim Hortons released one in late March with an employee explaining drive-thrus are open and that app and delivery partners are accepting orders.

That ad was designed as “an accessibility spot” to answer questions the company was receiving from customers, said Bagozzi.

It’s notable that such ads aren’t geared toward selling products.

Ford Canada, for instance, created an ad thanking workers, and closing with information on how customers leasing or financing vehicles through its credit program could receive help.

BMO ran an ad thanking “all the front-liners for keeping our lives moving” without mentioning any banking services. A&W created an ad with a similar message of gratitude to its restaurant staff, essential workers and everyday Canadians “staying home to help stop the spread” that doesn’t show anything more than the fast-food chain’s spokesman, presumably in his own home, with a partial logo visible on the wall behind him.

The company wanted the gratitude to be authentic, genuine and dominant, said CEO Susan Senecal.

“That’s how we felt at that moment in time and we just wanted to express that completely,” she said. “We didn’t think anything more was necessary.”

A&W scrapped its original plans in this “very unusual set of circumstances,” Senecal said, and decided a message of thanks worked better.

The brands Ansley works with have “taken the foot off the pedal as far as pushing product,” which he thinks is the right move as staggering numbers of people apply for emergency government assistance.

More than one million jobs disappeared in March, according to Statistics Canada, and the unemployment rate increased 2.2 percentage points to 7.8%.

“There’s a lot of people that are facing those realities,” Ansley said. “To go out with messaging that is tone deaf to that, I think, is completely wrong.”

Some brands have paused all their advertising in light of the pandemic, while others are trying to figure out if they have something to say, he said.

“I think really it’s just being true to your brand and your brand’s purpose.”

An example is a Dove Canada ad that presents a series of headshots of health-care workers, many of their faces showing indents from wearing their protective masks. The tagline “courage is beautiful” appears with the company’s logo and a list of donations the company is making to such workers.

The company’s long-running “real beauty” campaign bills itself as a movement challenging traditional notions of attractiveness.

“That’s what makes it really powerful,” said Ansley. “It’s timely. It is a beautiful message. But most importantly, it just stays true to who they are as a brand.”

Similarly, Tim Hortons showcased its corporate values with the footage of real employees offering coffee and doughnuts to health-care workers, said Bagozzi.

The company didn’t know how it would use the footage when it first gathered it in March, she said, but after seeing the reaction decided to share it broadly.

“There was just such a nice reciprocal generosity and gratefulness that we were like, ‘Oh my gosh, this is so lovely. It’s so Canadian. We definitely want to share this.”

As the pandemic unfolds, it’s unclear what the future holds for advertising.

Tim Hortons ran a new ad recently offering a free pack of Timbits if customers spend at least $10. It’s intended as a nice gesture for families buying a meal, said Bagozzi.

The eatery is also looking at the activities it has planned for the rest of the year, especially the next few months, and asking what is most relevant and appropriate to be doing, she said.

The same can be said for A&W’s future advertising plans.

“As the situation continues to evolve, we’ll continue to think about what’s the most important thing to say next and try and do a good job of that,” said Senecal.


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Vaping risk awareness campaign launches in Newfoundland and Labrador

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Newfoundland and Labrador is contributing $75,000 to an advertising campaign intended to raise awareness about the risks of youth vaping.

The Newfoundland and Labrador Alliance for the Control of Tobacco, which receives $210,000 annually from the province, announced the campaign called “The New Look of Nicotine Addiction” in St. John’s today.

A news release says the campaign is aimed to educate parents and adults about the risks of vaping.

Advertisements will appear on billboards, online and on social media.

It will include information about vaping products such as chemical contents, types of devices, effects of nicotine on brain development and youth being targeted by the vaping industry.

The 2018-2019 Canadian Student Tobacco, Alcohol and Drug Survey reported 47% of youth in the province had tried a vaping product, higher than the national average of 34%.


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Ottawa moves to restrict vaping advertisements to prevent youth exposure

Health Canada is proposing to ban advertising of vaping products in spaces where young people can see them in a bid to rein in the rise of underage e-cigarette use.

Minister Patty Hajdu put forward new rules Dec. 19 that would prohibit vaping promotion in specialty shops, businesses and online platforms frequented by youth.

Hajdu also announced requirements that vaping packages feature health warnings and be child-resistant, as well as plans to place limits on nicotine content in vaping liquids to reduce the risk of accidental child poisoning.

“The new measures announced today will help, but there is more to do,” Hajdu said in a statement. “We are working on further steps to protect youth and our message remains clear: vaping comes with serious risks.”

Ottawa has been holding consultations this year on measures to restrict advertising for e-cigarettes in the face of growing evidence that vaping has taken off among teens.

According to the 2018-2019 Canadian Student Tobacco, Alcohol and Drugs Survey, the number of high school students who reported vaping in the past month doubled to 20% since 2016-2017.

A spokesperson for Juul Labs Canada said the e-cigarette maker is reviewing the proposed regulations.

Rob Cunningham, a senior policy analyst at the Canadian Cancer Society, praised the government’s plan as a strong start, but said “comprehensive action” is still needed, such as restricting flavours and implementing a tax.

“Right now, youth are being exposed to e-cigarette advertising in social media, on billboards, on television, and many other places, and that’s going to end with these regulations,” he said.

However, Cunningham urged federal lawmakers to also follow their provincial counterparts in clamping down on the availability of vaping products.

“We have made such progress to reduce youth smoking, but now we’re seeing a whole new generation of kids becoming addicted to nicotine through e-cigarettes. That simply shouldn’t be happening,” he said.

Earlier this month, Nova Scotia’s health minister announced the province will be the first to ban sales of flavoured e-cigarettes and juices, and Ontario is considering a similar move.

Prince Edward Island, British Columbia and Newfoundland and Labrador have also adopted new vaping restrictions in recent months.

The P.E.I. government passed legislation last month that raised the legal age to buy tobacco and e-cigarettes from 19 to 21, setting the highest age limit in the country.

In British Columbia, a 10-point plan is aimed at protecting youth from the health risks of vaping, including legislation that caps the nicotine concentration in e-liquids and hiking the provincial sales tax on such products from seven% to 20%.

Cunningham said the issue has taken on new urgency due to mounting concern about the links between vaping and respiratory disease.

In the United States, 47 deaths have been attributed to vaping, and 2,000 cases of severe lung disease have been reported. Thirteen cases of vaping-associated lung illness had been reported in Canada as of Dec. 3. So far there have been no deaths.

 


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Ontario to ban promotion of vaping products in gas stations, convenience stores

Screen Shot 2019-05-31 at 9.16.36 AMOntario announced Friday it will ban the promotion of vaping products in convenience stores and gas stations, a move critics said does not go far enough to protect the health of young people.

Health Minister Christine Elliott said she made the decision in response to new research that showed vaping is on the rise among youth in the province.

“That’s a big concern to me,” she said. “I know that is a big concern to parents and families and I’m concerned about the potential health effects the increase in vaping has brought forward so we are starting with this prohibition of advertising.”

Elliott said the ban takes effect on Jan. 1, 2020.

Ontario was set to ban the advertising of vaping products in convenience stores under the previous Liberal government but the Progressive Conservatives paused regulations that were to come into effect on July 1, 2018 shortly after they took office.

The province’s change of direction Friday comes as health authorities in Canada have begun to closely monitor reports of respiratory illnesses potentially linked to vaping. In the U.S., health authorities have reported 1,604 cases of vaping-related illnesses, including 34 deaths.

No single ingredient, electronic cigarette or vaping device has been linked to all the illnesses in the U.S., but most who got sick said they vaped products containing THC, the high-inducing ingredient in marijuana.

Last month, Elliott issued a ministerial order to public hospitals to report vaping-related cases of severe pulmonary disease.

“My responsibility is to ensure the health and safety of our young people and that’s why we’re moving forward now with this ban,” she said.

The province will still allow vaping to be promoted in specialty stores and cannabis shops, which are open to people aged 19 and older.

The government will make the change by amending a provincial regulation to bring it in line with the current ban on in-store tobacco promotion.

Ontario now joins seven other Canadian provinces that have introduced similar restrictions on vaping promotion.

A year ago, the Ontario Campaign for Action on Tobacco – which includes the Canadian Cancer Society and the Heart & Stroke Foundation – asked the Ford government to ban display and advertising of vaping products in thousands of convenience stores across Ontario.

The groups said at the time that it would lead to increased nicotine addiction among teenagers, and on Friday its director applauded the move by the government.

“It’s pretty clear the government has looked at the evidence that has been published on youth vaping on how it’s growing in Ontario since they legalized promotion in retail settings,” Michael Perley said. “The evidence says they need to do more to stop messaging to young people … that these products are normal and just like candy and pop that kids go into convenience stores to look for.”

Perley praised the provincial ban as going further than current federal limits on advertising to youth, which he describe as too subjective. But he said the Tories should limit the sale of the vaping products to the hundreds of specialty shops which already exist across the province and have the expertise to help adult smokers.

“Smokers will get much better advice there than in a convenience store with line-ups and clerks who have never been trained on this issue,” he said.

NDP health critic Frances Gelinas said the Tories should never have paused the previous government’s bill to prohibit the practice.

“We’ve taken one tiny step,” she said. “But there are so many more steps that need to be taken to make sure that we don’t have this entire generation addicted to nicotine.”

Gelinas said the province should push forward with further reforms, including limiting flavours aimed at attracting children to vaping and limiting sales to specialty stores.

Health Canada has said vaping has risks and the long-term effects remain unknown.

The president of the Vaping Industry Trade Association said the voice of that sector has not been heard by the Ford government and called the ban “disappointing”.

Daniel David said the ban will prevent smokers from becoming aware of an option that is less harmful than tobacco.

“We strongly support measures that will restrict youth access, however this must be balanced to ensure that adult smokers still have access to these products,” he said in a statement.


Quebec judge rules law that prevents vaping from being advertised to smokers violates “freedom of expression”

Quebec is within its rights to legislate on vaping, but a provision banning demonstrations of vaping products inside shops or specialized clinics goes too far, a Quebec judge has ruled.

In a judgment released Friday, the court also invalidated another section of the provincial law prohibiting the advertising of vaping products to smokers seeking to kick their habit.

A legal challenge was brought by an association representing Quebec vape shops and the Canadian Vaping Association.

They argued that parts of the Tobacco Control Act adopted by the Quebec government in 2015 violated their fundamental rights, notably freedom of expression.

Justice Daniel Dumais has suspended his ruling for six months to allow lawmakers to rewrite the problematic sections of the province’s tobacco law to make them valid.

The Quebec association had also argued the province had overstepped its legislative authority by including vaping products.

However, Dumais, who heard arguments in the province’s Superior Court over 10 days last December, ruled Quebec had a right to legislate on the issue.

“Overall, the law is constitutional,” Dumais wrote in a lengthy decision May 4. “Quebec has jurisdiction to legislate as it has done. The Quebec legislature has jurisdiction and could validly pass the contested laws.”

The wide-ranging law was designed in part to put the popular e-cigarette on the same footing as other tobacco products and anti-tobacco groups argued that e-cigarettes needed to be subjected to regulations to prevent youth from using it.

But the judge agreed to strike down two sections of the law that prohibited the demonstration of vaping products inside speciality shops and smoking cessation clinics.

The judge also struck down sections of the law that prevent vaping from being advertised to smokers who aim to stop smoking, ruling it violates freedom of expression.

The Canadian association had argued those sections of the law violated the right to integrity and personal security as well as freedom of expression. The judge also struck down sections of the law that prevent vaping from being advertised to smokers who aim to stop smoking, ruling it violates freedom of expression.

The judge wrote that while the provisions take into account the well being of non-smokers, it seemed to forget the rest of the population -including those smokers who are looking to quit.

“The problem with the current restrictions is that the public – particularly smokers – do not distinguish between smoking and vaping,” the judge wrote. “They must be permitted to know the difference. Rather than silence, it is sometimes necessary to educate and let people know that vaping exists first and foremost for smokers.”