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Industry reacts to Health Canada’s proposed vaping regulations

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While the Convenience industry agrees with Health Canada’s mandate to reduce youth vaping, Ottawa’s new proposed vaping regulations aimed at reducing the level of nicotine in vapour products will stand in the way of adult smokers looking to quit, while putting unrealistic expectation on c-store operators.

In a statement, Imperial Tobaccos said the proposal “will severely hinder the federal government’s ability to reach its stated objective of reducing the smoking rate in Canada to less than 5%  by 2035.”

Health Canada announced Friday it is proposing to lower the maximum nicotine concentration allowed for vaping products that are manufactured or imported for sale in Canada to 20 mg/ml. The current limit is 66 mg/ml, which would remain the maximum concentration allowed for any vaping products intended for export markets. The new rules would forbid the sale of any vaping product if the nicotine concentration listed on the packaging is higher than the new limit.

“Health Canada recognizes the concept of offering reduced risk products as a way to reduce exposure to the harmful chemicals caused by smoking. In addition, it recognizes vaping as a less harmful alternative to smoking,” said Eric Gagnon, VP of corporate and regulatory affairs at Imperial Tobacco Canada. “It is unfortunate that the government is considering a measure that will hinder vaping products from reaching their full potential as a less harmful alternative to smoking.”

The Convenience Industry Council of Canada agreed, calling Ottawa’s proposal “misguided,” and said that the move will push adult users back to tobacco, or to the illegal online market. Also, adult smokers considering transition will be discouraged: CICC member sales data shows that more than 80% of convenience store customers purchase the higher nicotine content product when beginning the transition to vape.

“Canada’s convenience stores are the primary destination for adult smokers looking to make a switch to a reduced risk product,” says CICC president and CEO Anne Kothawala. “Our sales data shows that smokers require sufficient nicotine concentration in order to successfully transition. Offering our customers this choice and encouraging them to make the switch is in line with Health Canada’s stated public health objective of reducing smoking rates.”

Imperial Tobacco says the government acknowledges this risk when it states, “it is anticipated that the vaping industry would experience the loss of sales to adult customers who choose to discontinue using vaping products rather than transition to vaping products that contain 20 mg/mL nicotine or below.”

While it could be debated whether or not the current cap of 66 mg/ml is appropriate, said Gagnon, “he proposed 20 mg/ml is too low and will not satisfy a portion of current Canadian vapers nor smokers seeking a less harmful alternative. It is hard to understand why the government would enact a policy measure knowing full well it will drive up the number of smokers in Canada.”

Nicotine caps will not solve the youth vaping issue, adds Kothawala. “We support the government’s goal of addressing youth vaping and are proud that our channel has a proven track record of retailing age-restricted products. Convenience stores are not the problem. Reducing youth vaping requires a multi-faceted approach that clamps down on the unregulated online market and provides for stiffer penalties for any retailers selling to minors. This policy will make it more likely that youth will access higher nicotine vaping products through illegal online markets.”

In addition, she says the the proposed implementation date of 15 days is “simply unworkable” for our retailers. “Previous implementation timelines have been months long – not days – which allow convenience stores to become compliant. This will impose significant costs on our industry at a time when businesses are struggling with both the economic and health impacts of COVID-19. Government has already acknowledged these challenges earlier this year when they provided a six-month extension to previous vape regulations and should apply the same approach in this case. We are calling on the government to reconsider their decision to limit nicotine concentrations and to increase the implementation period for retailers.”

The government says it is also thinking about added regulatory measures that would restrict flavours in vaping products, and make the industry give more information about their products, including details on sales, ingredients and research and development.

-With files from The Canadian Press

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Health Canada proposes reducing nicotine concentration limit in vaping products

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The federal government says it wants to reduce the amount of nicotine allowed in vaping products as part of greater efforts to curb their appeal to young Canadians.

Health Canada announced Friday it is proposing to lower the maximum nicotine concentration allowed for vaping products that are manufactured or imported for sale in Canada to 20 mg/ml. The current limit is 66 mg/ml, which would remain the maximum concentration allowed for any vaping products intended for export markets.

The new rules would forbid the sale of any vaping product if the nicotine concentration listed on the packaging is higher than the new limit.

“Our work to protect Canadians from the harms of vaping products continues,” federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu said in a statement announcing the move.

“These changes will help reduce the appeal of vaping products to youth.”

The department is launching a 75-day public consultation Saturday on the proposed new regulations, seeking feedback from all Canadians. The consultation will end March 4.

The government says it is also thinking about added regulatory measures that would restrict flavours in vaping products, and make the industry give more information about their products, including details on sales, ingredients and research and development.

The Canadian Cancer Society welcomed the move, saying British Columbia, Nova Scotia and the European Union have already limited nicotine concentration on vaping products to 20 mg/ml, while Quebec has announced its intention to do so. Meanwhile, some products currently sold here contain nearly triple that amount.

“The high rate of youth vaping is of fundamental concern and provides the necessary rationale for the new regulations,” Rob Cunningham, a senior policy analyst with the Canadian Cancer Society, said in a statement Friday.

“High nicotine levels have contributed to a new generation of young people becoming addicted to nicotine through e-cigarettes,” he said.

The Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada echoed that message and pushed for more.

“We also urge Health Canada to move quickly on other important measures to address the youth vaping crisis including comprehensively restricting flavours and increasing taxation,” said Dr. Andrew Pipe, chair of the board.

The Canadian vaping industry trade association said the lower nicotine limit would make adult smokers who are using cigarettes and other tobacco products considered more harmful than vaping products, less likely to switch.

“Considering the disparity of harm between vaping and smoking, we don’t understand why the federal government would be using Health Canada resources during a global pandemic to explore making it harder for adult smokers to switch to a reduced risk product,” Daniel David, president of VITA of Canada, said in a statement Friday.

Anne Kothawala, president and CEO of the Convenience Industry Council of Canada, made a similar argument, adding the government’s proposal to have the rules come into force 15 days after the final version is published is too short a timeline.

“Previous implementation timelines have been months long _ not days _ which allow convenience stores to become compliant,” she said in a statement.

“This will impose significant costs on our industry at a time when businesses are struggling with both the economic and health impacts of COVID-19.”

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Health Canada recalls more hand sanitizer products

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Health Canada continues to add new products to its growing list of recalled hand sanitizers, included a product is has deemed counterfeit.

Hand sanitizer is an important category for c-stores and the ideal last-minute purchase at check-out.

Most recently, Health Canada warned a counterfeit version of the authorized Daily Shield hand sanitizer had been found for sale at a Dollarama store in Thunder Bay.

The product may not be effective at killing bacteria and viruses, and may pose serious risks to health.

It also says the product is suspected to contain methanol, which is not authorized for use in hand sanitizers and could cause severe adverse reactions or death when ingested.

The counterfeit version is labelled with NPN 80098979, Lot 6942; Expiry May 2023 and is sold in a 250 mL format.

The agency also recently pulled two Sanix products for containing methanol: Prairie Potions’ Purify Hand Sanitizer and Antibacterial Spray.

Last Best Brewing and Distilling Hand Sanitizer and Rocky Mountain Soap Company’s Nomad Hand Sanitizer (Lemongrass) are both being recalled for missing risk statements, in additions to containing unauthorized technical-grade ethanol.

Since June, Health Canada has recalled more than 100 hand sanitizer products, often for containing unauthorized ingredients or improper labelling. For the latest recalls, visit the Health Canada website.

To find out if the hand sanitizer you’re selling is safe, CLICK HERE to search by brand name. 


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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.


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Ban on vaping ads that can be seen by youth to take effect in August

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Ottawa’s new rules restricting the promotion of vaping products in places young people can access are set to come into effect next month.

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

The ban applies to all retail locations and online stores that sell e-cigarettes, except for adult-only establishments.

The measures are set to take effect on Aug. 7, while some point-of-sale regulations will be implemented on Sept. 6.

The move comes in response to mounting research to suggest that teen vaping is on the rise in Canada.

According to the 2018-2019 Canadian Student Tobacco, Alcohol and Drugs Survey, 20 per cent of high school students said they used e-cigarettes in the last month, which is double the rate reported in 2016-2017.


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Health Canada ‘actively monitoring’ U.S. vaping illness breakthrough

Canadian health officials say they are closely monitoring an apparent U.S. breakthrough into the cause of a mysterious vaping illness.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say they have a “very strong culprit” in a chemical compound known as vitamin E acetate.

The compound was found in fluid taken from the lungs of 29 patients across the United States, as well as liquid from electronic cigarettes and other vaping devices used by many who fell ill.

Health Canada spokesman Eric Morrissette says vitamin E acetate is not allowed in Canadian cannabis vaping products.

Still, he says Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada are “actively monitoring the vaping illness situation.”

That includes maintaining close contact with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to better understand their investigation.

“Health Canada will continue to monitor all available data sources and surveillance systems and will take additional action, if warranted and as appropriate, to protect the health and safety of Canadians,” Morrissette said Friday in an emailed statement.

There have been seven confirmed or probable cases of severe lung illness related to vaping in Canada.

That includes two confirmed cases in Quebec, two probable cases in New Brunswick and three probable cases in British Columbia.

U.S. officials said Friday this is the first time they’ve found a common suspect in the damaged lungs of patients.

But they cautioned they cannot rule out all other toxic substances, and it may take animal studies to clearly show vitamin E acetate causes the lung damage that’s been seen.

More than 2,000 Americans who vape have gotten sick since March, many of them teens and young adults, and at least 40 people have died.

The first Canadian was diagnosed in Quebec in September and Health Canada has urged people who vape to watch for symptoms, such as a cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, diarrhea, vomiting and chest pain.