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Ontario’s new vaping regulations kick in July 1

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C-stores across the province are preparing for new amendments to the Smoke-Free Ontario Act, which brings with it more restrictive rules for operators when it comes to the sale of vaping products.

The following regulations come into effect July 1, 2020:

  • The sale of flavoured vapour products will be restricted to specialty vape stores and licensed cannabis retail stores. C-stores  can only sell tobacco, menthol and mint flavoured vapour products;
  • The sale of vapour products with high nicotine concentrations (greater than 20 mg/ml) will be restricted to specialty vape stores.

These changes are part of the Government of Ontario’s efforts to curb youth vaping and were initially to come into play May 1, but as governments and retailers dealt with the ramifications of COVID-19 on business and healthy, it was delayed until next month.

READ: Ontario delays new vaping regulations

Regarding the delay, Dianne Alexander, director Health Promotion and Prevention Policy and Programs Branch, Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, Public Health Ministry of Health, said at the time: “The government understands that some of the proposed amendments would require certain businesses to remove inventory from their stores, which may involve contact with others. Providing more time to implement would allow owners and employees of affected businesses to practice physical distancing.”

While industry leaders welcomed the extension, it is largely felt the new rules are an unfair blow to the convenience industry. It’s argued that the convenience sector has a proven track record selling age-restricted products and the move instead puts more power in the hands of unregulated vape shops.

The one caveat is specialty vape stores will no longer be permitted to have indoor displays and promotions that are visible from outside their stores.

Meanwhile, c-stores will have until July 1 to sell out or return to suppliers their existing inventory of higher nicotine and flavours that fall outside the new regulations.


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Health groups take aim at flavoured vapes in new public awareness campaign

Two Canadian health advocacy groups launched a public awareness campaign Wednesday taking aim at flavoured vape products, with a pointed advertisement that highlights how the products are marketed to children.

The video features an actor posing as an ice cream truck vendor handing out an assortment of sweet-sounding flavours to parents and their children in a hidden camera-style spoof.

But as the salesman hands over the treats – with flavours that include vanilla mist, orange twist and cotton candy – he boasts that they’re “infused with 100% organic nicotine.”

The clip wraps with a shot of e-liquid containers featuring the same flavours, and asks if selling nicotine-infused ice cream to kids isn’t ok, “why is this?”

The Canadian Lung Association and the Heart & Stroke Foundation of Canada partnered to create the campaign, which launched on social media and will run on television over the next three months.

“There was no nicotine in the ice cream, of course,” said lung association CEO Terry Dean. “But the whole idea was to point out the absurdity of these (vape) flavour offerings. We have over 7,000 out there in the market and clearly they’re targeting youth.”

The parents filmed for the advertisement, whose unvarnished expressions and comments are caught on video, react to the vendor with a mix of shock and outrage.

“Why would you give that to kids?” asks one woman incredulously.

Another parent asks skeptically if the inclusion of nicotine is good for kids.

“Like, I’m not a doctor,” the man said. “So, I can’t say for sure.”

Another parent can barely hide his anger, blowing up at the vendor.

“How dare you guys?” he shouts, over shots of parents throwing out the ice cream.

Lesley James, the senior manager of health policy at the Heart & Stroke Foundation, said with youth vaping on the rise the group felt it was important to create the campaign.

“We’ve taken a satirical approach but there’s nothing funny about nicotine addiction,” she said. “These products are marketed to look like candy or dessert…. These appealing flavours are attractive to youth and that high nicotine content makes them addictive.”

The groups are both requesting all levels of government take action to restrict the sale of vape flavours, with the lung association urging a limit on the number of flavours while Heart & Stroke advocates for a full ban.

Vaping proponents defend the products as safer alternative to smoking that can help people quit the habit.

Both the lung association and Heart & Stroke hope the campaign sparks discussions amongst parents, educators and youth.

“We want them to have conversations and know this isn’t just flavoured water,” James said. “These are serious chemicals that can cause really harmful consequences.”

Health Canada did not immediately comment Wednesday, but in December the federal department proposed banning 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.

Health Minister Patty Hajdu put forward the new rules 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 poisoning.

Meanwhile, Nova Scotia has became the first province to ban sales of flavoured e-cigarettes and juices in regulatory changes that take effect April 1, 2020.

A spokeswoman for Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott said Wednesday that government has taken action, banning in-store promotion of vapour products in gas bars and convenience stores, which took effect in the province on Jan. 1.

“Minister Elliott is increasingly concerned about the prevalence and health consequences of youth vaping,” Hayley Chazan said in a statement. “We expect to put forward additional regulations in the coming months.”


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Vaping backlash: Nova Scotia bans flavoured e cigarettes, Ontario mulls the same

A nationwide clamp down on vaping continued Thursday as Nova Scotia announced a ban on flavoured e-cigarettes, while Ontario hinted that it may soon do the same.

Nova Scotia Health Minister Randy Delorey announced the province will be the first to ban sales of flavoured e-cigarettes and juices in regulatory changes that take effect April 1, 2020.

“This decision is in response to our concerns about the growth in particular of youth vaping,” said Delorey.

Though Nova Scotia has drastically reduced youth smoking rates in the last 30 years, that progress has been stalled by the popularity of flavoured vaping products, he said.

“This is not just about reducing vaping access and use, but it’s also a means to stem potential transfers into traditional tobacco usage as well,” Delorey said.

Between 2017-18, the number of young people smoking and vaping in Canada increased for the first time in several decades, Delorey said.

A recent survey conducted by Smoke Free Nova Scotia suggested 95 per cent of young Nova Scotians who vape said they preferred flavoured juices – and 48% of those surveyed said they would quit if flavours were banned.

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.

Delorey said the province plans to roll out a public education campaign and more vaping legislation next year. Under Nova Scotia’s current law, e-cigarette products cannot be sold to anyone under 19.

Delorey wouldn’t tip his hand on what further restrictive steps would be included in new legislation, but said he has taken notice of what’s being done in other provinces. He said it’s also important that any potential changes align with steps taken at the federal level.

“It doesn’t make sense to duplicate the legislative and regulatory framework between the federal and provincial jurisdictions, so what’s being done at the federal level will have some influence and impact on what we decide to do here provincially,” he said.

Also on Thursday, Ontario’s health minister said her province is also considering a ban on flavoured vaping products. Ontario has already said it would ban the promotion of vaping products in convenience stores and gas stations beginning next month.

“We do know there is more to be done so we are taking a look at the flavoured vapes,” Christine Elliott said. “We are looking at the nicotine content in vapes. We are looking at where vaping products should be sold … we will be taking more steps, absolutely.”

Ontario Green party Leader Mike Schreiner said the province should follow Nova Scotia’s example and ban flavoured vaping products.

“Given the number of teens vaping now that’s becoming a huge issue and we need to stop that,” he said.

New restrictions on vaping were recently adopted in Prince Edward Island, British Columbia and Newfoundland and Labrador.

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

The legislation also bans certain flavours of e-cigarettes and restricts where the products can be sold.

In British Columbia, a 10-point plan is aimed at protecting youth from the health risks of vaping, including legislation that would boost the provincial sales tax on such products from seven per cent to 20 per cent.

Earlier this week, Newfoundland and Labrador banned the introduction of cannabis vape products when pot consumables go on sale later this month.

In November, several health advocacy groups called on the Nova Scotia government to take urgent action to curb what they called a youth vaping epidemic.

Kelly Cull, of the Canadian Cancer Society, called Thursday’s move an “excellent first step.”

She said she’d like to see upcoming legislation raise the minimum age to 21, restrict where e-cigarette products can be sold, cap nicotine levels, and ban online sales.

Robert MacDonald, president and CEO of the Lung Association of Nova Scotia, said the province should also consider taxation as a means to reduce vaping.

“We’ve seen that in tobacco (and) it’s reduced rates,” said MacDonald.

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.


New York City lawmakers vote to ban flavoured vaping products

New York City lawmakers voted Tuesday to ban flavoured electronic cigarettes after a lawsuit halted a statewide ban.

“We are acting to protect our kids by banning the e-cigarette flavours that have been hooking them for years,” Democratic City Council member Mark Levine said before the Council voted 42-2 to adopt the ban on flavoured vaping products.

Advocates for the vaping industry jeered and threw dollar bills from the balcony after the vote, and industry supporters said the ban will hamper efforts to curb smoking.

“All the New York City Council did today was make it harder for adult smokers to quit, shut down small businesses, and create a new black market that will inevitably lead to constitutional violations by the New York City Police Department,” Gregory Conley, president of the American Vaping Association, said in a prepared statement.

The measure, which Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio has said he supports, bans all e-cigarette and e-liquid flavours except tobacco. It is expected to take effect on July 1, 2020.

The legislation is likely to face a legal challenge. Spike Babaian, a vape shop owner and board member of the New York State Vaping Association, said the organization is “pursuing legal options.” A 90-day ban on the sale of most flavoured e-cigarettes that New York state health officials planned to start enforcing is currently held up after a state appeals court blocked that effort last month when vaping industry representatives sued.

Advocates for the e-cigarette industry say vaping products save lives by helping smokers quit.

Cheryl Richter, executive director of the New York State Vapor Association, said her group represents “hundreds of thousands of consumers who rely on vapour products to keep them from smoking cigarettes in New York.” She called the New York City bill “an overreaching infringement of their constitutional right to choose a product that improves their health.”

The move to ban flavoured e-cigarettes comes amid nationwide concern about the growth of teenage vaping and fears about health risks.

Republican President Donald Trump promised two months ago that he would ban most flavoured e-cigarettes but later backtracked. He said Friday that his administration would announce a plan to curb teen vaping “very soon.”

E-cigarettes first appeared in the U.S. more than a decade ago and have grown into a multibillion-dollar industry despite little research on their long-term effects.

Researchers generally believe they are less harmful to smoke than cigarettes, which kill hundreds of thousands of Americans annually, and they were initially promoted as a way to help tobacco users switch to something less harmful. But like cigarettes, they contain nicotine and are highly addictive. Many of the people starting to use them are teenagers who never previously smoked.

Forty-seven deaths linked to vaping have been reported to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, though most of those sickened said they vaped THC, the high-inducing ingredient in marijuana. Officials believe a thickening agent used in black market THC vaping products may be a culprit.

State lawmakers in Massachusetts passed a ban last week on the sale of flavoured vaping and tobacco products including menthol cigarettes. The ban now goes to the desk of Republican Gov. Charlie Baker, who appears likely to sign it.

A ban on the sale of menthol cigarettes was omitted from the New York City legislation after lobbying by advocates including the Rev. Al Sharpton, who has argued that a ban on menthol cigarettes could lead to harsh police enforcement in the black community.

 


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New vaping rules are ‘punishing’ neighbourhood stores and do little to curb youth vaping: CICC

shutterstock_1373776301According to Health Canada, more than 75% of specialty vape shops are selling and promoting products that violate federal laws, including the sale of flavours, such as cake, cookies and candy, designed to appeal to youth.

In an unsettling feature published on November 16th, The Globe and Mail reported that vaping companies are “selling and promoting products that violate federal law, according to (Health Canada) spokeswoman Maryse Durette. The most common violations were promoting child-friendly flavours and using testimonials to promote products. Under federal law, testimonials include any promotions that feature people, characters or animals.”

Screen Shot 2019-11-20 at 2.01.10 PMThe Convenience Industry Council of Canada (CICC) responded this week, emphasizing the important role c-stores can play in ensuring that vaping products don’t end up in the hands of minors, but still remain a viable alternative for adults smokers. that these findings call into question the wisdom of restricting

“Convenience stores have responsibly retailed lottery and other age-restricted products for decades. Vape shops, on the other hand, have no track record of refusing sales to minors,” Anne Kothawala, CICC president and CEO, said in a release, adding that specialty vape stores are “largely unregulated” and a “relatively recent phenomena” in Canada.

“Many of these vape shops started selling nicotine vapes before they were legal in Canada. Upon this foundation of criminality, they are building predatory businesses that sell hundreds of flavours designed to hook youth, like bubble gum and candy cane,” said Kothawala. “At convenience stores, we only sell federally approved vapes with a narrow selection of flavours, all of which meet Health Canada’s strict requirement that they do not appeal to youth.”

The CICC points to mystery shopping tests conducted by the Ontario government in 2018 for legal tobacco sales, which show an underage sales prevention success rate of 96%.

According to the Federal Government’s Canadian Tobacco, Alcohol and Drug Survey, almost 50% of all youth who have tried a vaping product borrowed, shared or bought them from a friend or relative, while 23% purchased  from a specialty vape shop and 12% purchased them from a convenience store.

According to the CICC, “With growing evidence that vaping is a less harmful alternative to smoking and a potentially helpful tool in achieving the public health goal of smoking cessation, the convenience store industry wants to be a partner in helping provide more adult smokers with access to these products. But governments have to decide whether they are actually serious about helping more people quit smoking.”

In British Columbia, the provincial government recently announced it would restrict the vape flavours convenience stores can sell. Other provinces are considering similar moves.

The concern, according to CICC, is this will send youth to specialty vape shops that purport to be “adult only.”

“If the steps being taken in B.C. were to be emulated across the country, it would be a sad day for public health,” warns Kothawala. “Appropriate flavours are essential in encouraging adult smokers to try vaping. With the vast majority of smokers already purchasing their legal cigarettes at convenience stores, these vape flavours need to be available at convenience stores. It is unreasonable to expect that adult smokers will seek out far flung vape shops with restricted hours. On the other hand, we already know from the data that youth will. Furthermore, in some more remote communities, the local convenience store is the only option for adult consumers.

“Many vape shops are clearly breaking the law, yet the B.C. government wants to give them a helping hand, while punishing the neighbourhood stores who obey the law every single day. Convenience stores are frustrated with these discriminatory policies, and we have every right to be,” added Kothawala.“We need evidence-based decision making and what we are getting from B.C. is the complete opposite.”


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Juul halts U.S. sales of fruit, dessert flavours for e cigarettes

Juul Labs stopped selling fruit and dessert flavours Thursday, acknowledging the public’s “lack of trust” in the vaping industry.

The voluntary step is the company’s latest attempt to weather a growing political backlash that blames its flavoured-nicotine products for hooking a generation of teenagers on electronic cigarettes.

Juul, the bestselling e-cigarette brand in the U.S., has been besieged by scrutiny, including multiple investigations by Congress, federal agencies and several state attorneys general. The company is also being sued by adults and underage Juul users who claim they became addicted to nicotine through the company’s products. And the Trump administration has proposed banning nearly all vaping flavours.

Still, the company’s latest step is unlikely to satisfy its critics.

The flavours affected by the announcement – mango, creme, fruit and cucumber – account for less than 10% of Juul’s sales. The flavours had only been sold through Juul’s website, after the company pulled them from stores last November.

Juul will continue selling its most popular flavours, mint and menthol, for now. A spokesman said the company is reviewing its products and has not made “any final decisions.”

Mint and menthol account for most of Juul’s retail sales, according to analysts, and are the most popular flavours among teens.

The San Francisco-based company will also continue to sell its tobacco-flavoured vaping pods.

The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids’ Matthew Myers said that Juul’s decision to keep selling mint and menthol shows “it isn’t serious about preventing youth use.”

“Juul knows that 64% of high school e-cigarette users now use mint or menthol flavours and this number is growing all the time,” Myers said in a statement.

His group and others are urging the Trump administration to follow through on its proposal to ban all vaping flavours except tobacco.

The sales concession comes less than a month after a major shake-up at the privately held firm, in which it pledged to stop advertising and agreed to not lobby against the administration’s proposed flavour ban.

“We must reset the vapour category by earning the trust of society and working co-operatively with regulators, policymakers and stakeholders,” the company’s new CEO, K.C. Crosthwaite, said in a statement. Crosthwaite was named CEO last month. He previously worked as an executive for Marlboro-maker Altria, which is also Juul’s biggest investor.

This week’s move marks a remarkable shift for Juul, which had argued for years that its flavours help adult smokers quit cigarettes.

But the announcement doesn’t necessarily mean the permanent end of Juul’s flavours. Instead, Crosthwaite said the company would defer to the decision of the Food and Drug Administration, which has set a deadline of next May for manufacturers to submit their vaping products for federal review.

Under the agency’s standards, only vaping products that represent a net benefit to public health are supposed to remain on the market.

If the company can show that its products are less harmful than cigarettes and can help adults switch, they could presumably return. Many experts, however, doubt the company will be able to win the FDA endorsement, given the popularity of Juul among underage users.

Underage vaping has reached epidemic levels, according to health officials. In the latest government survey, more than 1 in 4 high school students reported using e-cigarettes in the previous month despite federal law banning sales to those under 18.

While Juul agreed to stop lobbying against a flavour ban, other industry players haven’t. The Vapor Technology Association is launching a national marketing campaign aimed at stopping the White House plan by using the slogan, “I vape, I vote.”

A poll released Thursday shows that Americans narrowly favour banning the sale of flavoured e-cigarettes, although younger adults are more likely to oppose the idea.

Banning flavours is supported by 52% of adults of all ages and opposed by 44%, according to the poll by the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation. But 63% of adults ages 18 to 29 oppose banning the sale of flavoured e-cigarettes.

The poll involved random calls to the cellphones and landlines of 1,205 adults and was conducted Oct. 3-8. The margin of sampling error for all respondents was plus or minus 3 percentage points.

In a separate public health crisis, the federal government is investigating nearly 1,500 cases of lung damage linked to vaping, some of them fatal. Many patients said they vaped THC, marijuana’s intoxicating chemical, with bootleg devices, but officials have not yet implicated any common product or ingredient.


Mint, menthol: Vape industry has dug heels in on flavour bans

Efforts to ban flavoured e-cigarettes and reduce their appeal to youngsters in the United States have sputtered under industry pressure in over a half-dozen states this year even as one state, Michigan, moves ahead with its own restrictions and President Donald Trump promises federal ones.

In many cases, the fight by the industry and its lobbyists has focused on leaving the most popular flavours – mint and its close cousin, menthol – alone. But public health experts say that all flavours should be banned, and that menthol can still hook kids on vaping.

The proposal Trump outlined Sept. 11, which would supersede any state inaction, includes a ban on mint and menthol, and an industry giant quickly indicated it would capitulate.

“We strongly agree with the need for aggressive category-wide action on flavoured products,” read a statement released by Juul Labs Inc. “We will fully comply with the final FDA policy when effective.”

But the fight in state legislatures has been fierce. Lobbyists for the vaping and tobacco industry fought bans on flavours in Hawaii, California, New Mexico, Massachusetts, New York, Maine and Connecticut.

Such bans failed or stalled, even as Michigan’s governor this month ordered emergency rules prohibiting flavoured e-cigarettes. New York Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo expressed a desire to ban flavoured e-cigarettes.

Trump’s federal proposal, as it stands, would require no congressional approval, meaning lobbying efforts to defeat it could be less effective than in state legislatures. Juul spent $1.9 million in the first half of the year to try and sway the White House, Congress and the Food and Drug Administration.

The Vapor Technology Association has reported spending $78,000 this year in its lobbying fight against California’s proposed flavoured e-cigarettes ban, while one of the world’s largest tobacco producers, Altria, reported spending over $100,000 last fall solely to lobby such legislation. The bills have since stalled.

Reynolds American, which sells Vuse Alto e-cigarettes, reported spending $240,000 on paid lobbyists in New York this year. At least $23,000 alone went to fund their lobbying push against a flavoured tobacco ban that failed to pass this year.

Altria, which is also Juul’s biggest investor, also spent over $70,000 in Maine alone this spring on an online social media and email campaign in its efforts to defeat a ban on flavoured e-cigarettes and all tobacco products, according to lobbying reports filed with state ethics officials. Maine still has no flavour ban.

The global e-cigarette and vape market was valued at as much as $11 billion in 2018. The rise in teen vaping has been driven mainly by flavoured cartridge-based products such as Juul, which controls roughly three-quarters of the U.S. e-cigarettes market.

The proposals and the lobbying fight come as health authorities investigate hundreds of breathing illnesses reported in people who have used e-cigarettes and other vaping devices. No single device, ingredient or additive has been identified, though many cases involve marijuana vaping.

Supporters of flavours argue that adult cigarette users say flavours helped them quit, and that legislators should instead focus on companies that are trying to hook young nonsmokers with clearly kid-friendly marketing and packaging.

“One of the things that we are finding is that state legislatures are reflexively reacting to media stories and without a scientific basis making determinations that flavours are the problem so we need to get rid of all the flavours,” said Tony Abboud, president of the Vapor Technology Association.

There had been concern that the tobacco and vaping industries were winning their fight to keep at least the most popular flavours _ mint and menthol _ in play. That concern has now been tempered by Trump’s announcement that his ban would include menthol and mint.

Last November, the FDA announced plans for a crackdown that could lead to federal regulators pulling all e-cigarette flavours besides menthol and mint – thought to be useful to adult smokers – from shelves. The FDA also said it would also seek to ban menthol cigarettes.

The FDA’s announcement came just two days after Juul announced the halting of in-store sales of mango, fruit, creme and cucumber flavours in retail stores.

The company’s CEO has said that Juul never intended for young people to use their products but that they are “sensitive” to concerns raised by the FDA.

And a spokesman for Juul, Ted Kwong, said before the announcement by Trump that the company would support an outright ban on flavours that mimic kid candies, foods and drinks.

Still, in line with the FDA’s proposed policy, Juul Labs still distributes mint, menthol and tobacco flavours in retail stores. The company also sells flavoured products through its website.

Anti-tobacco and -vaping groups say there’s no scientific basis for leaving menthol or mint alone. They warn menthol has been unethically marketed toward African Americans, and that such flavours can still increase the appeal of e-cigarettes for young people who aren’t smokers by overcoming the harshness of nicotine.

“Anything that is overcoming the harshness of tobacco flavouring is something that kids are going to find more appealing,” said Hillary Schneider, director of government relations in Maine for the American Cancer Society Action Network.

But banning minty flavours has been politically contentious.

In Maine, convenience store owners upset by a proposed flavour ban argued that mint, wintergreen and menthol represent 30% of flavours offered in stores statewide and $32 million in tax revenue.

Lawmakers then considered a tweak to only allow menthol, mint and wintergreen flavours. Maine ended up passing a bill _ backed by the tobacco and vaping industries, as well as small retail stores _ that instead makes it illegal to sell e-cigarettes to people under 21 and give them to minors under 16.

Officials in Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s administration discussed exempting mint and menthol flavours from the e-cigarette ban, but “determined that the action taken was the best path forward to protect youth,” said Bob Wheaton, spokesman for the state Department of Health and Human Services.

A court challenge is expected for Michigan’s ban.

Abboud argued before Trump’s decision that states should hold off on further action for now.