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ID please: Here’s what c-store operators need to know about vaping regulations

Buy-marijuana-or-weed-18-years-old-under-21Although Health Canada acknowledges that vaping is less harmful than smoking, the country’s national health overseer also has serious concerns about e-cigarettes and related products. With that in mind, there are a number or rules and regulations c-store operators should keep top of mind.

According to Health Canada, vaping can lead to nicotine addiction, it can cause lung damage, and the long-term impacts remain unknown.

This leads to concerns about the appeal of vaping for young people, a concern manufacturers take seriously. “Our position is very simple: just as we believe that youth should not smoke, we agree that youth should not vape,” says Eric Gagnon, head of corporate affairs at Imperial Tobacco Canada. “We support measures that prevent under-age access to vapour products.”

Rob Colucci, Fontem Canada – blu Vapour, adds, “We recognize that much work needs to be done in striking an appropriate balance between ensuring no youth uptake of vaping products while ensuring sufficient communication with adult smokers is allowed so as to encourage them to switch out of tobacco.

“Fontem Canada – blu Vapour shares Health Canada’s concerns about the increase in vaping product use by youth and agrees that youth access to vaping products and the inducement to use them is a serious and legitimate concern. Accordingly, we strongly support government regulatory initiatives aimed at preventing vaping products to be targeted at youth in Canada and around the world.”

Most vaping regulations are provincial and vary across the country, although generally there is a concerted effort to protect younger people from e-cigarettes and related products. Federally, the Tobacco and Vaping Products Act, which became law on May 23, 2018, protects youth from nicotine addiction and from incentives to use tobacco and vaping products. It allows adults to access vaping products as a less harmful alternative to smoking.

The act creates a national minimum age of access for vaping products: 18 years. It also includes significant restrictions on the promotion of vaping products, such as bans on:

  • advertising that appeals to youth;
  • lifestyle advertising;
  • sponsorship promotion; and
  • giveaways of vaping products or branded merchandise.

Additional restrictions under the legislation came into force late last year. These include bans on:

  • the sale and promotion of vaping products that make the product appealing to youth, such as interesting shapes or sounds;
  • the promotion of certain flavours — like candy, desserts, or soft drinks — that may be appealing to youth; and
  • product promotion by testimonials or endorsements.

Health advocates urge Quebec to appeal vaping ruling amid spike in youth vaping

Anti-smoking groups are urging the Quebec government to appeal a court ruling that invalidated certain sections of the province’s tobacco legislation dealing with vaping, as health officials across the country grapple with an apparent spike in youth adopting the habit.

The ruling handed down by Quebec Superior Court on Friday confirmed the province’s right to legislate on vaping, but struck down provisions banning demonstrations of vaping products inside shops or specialized clinics.

It also struck parts of the law prohibiting the advertising of vaping products to smokers seeking to kick their habit.

Flory Doucas of the Quebec Coalition for Tobacco Control said the judgment comes as Canada is dealing with a growing number of youth using vaping products since the federal government passed a law formally legalizing and regulating vaping, or e-cigarettes, in May 2018.

And, she notes, experience with the tobacco industry suggests advertising that targets smokers could also ensnare others.

“It is very worrisome to think that Quebec, one of the only jurisdictions in Canada that had a comprehensive, well-balanced framework for vaping products would now see its framework weakened when in fact other governments _ and the federal government _ is calling on provincial governments to help it tighten and restrict the marketing of these products to address the youth epidemic,” Doucas said in an interview Saturday.

The challenge to Quebec’s Tobacco Control Act, adopted in 2015, was brought by the Canadian Vaping Association and l’Association quebecoise des vapoteries, who argued the law infringed on its members’ freedom of expression.

Justice Daniel Dumais 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 government has not commented on the ruling.

Doucas said the province should appeal, noting the Quebec measures were anchored on prevention and precaution, and make even more sense than they did in 2015.

Although vaping products are less harmful than tobacco products, Doucas said caution is necessary, as is protecting youth against a highly addictive habit whose long-term effects are not known.

Health advocates suggest a rise in vaping among Canadian youth has coincided with heavy marketing and promotion since the federal government passed the Tobacco and Vaping Products Act in 2018.

The Public Health Agency of Canada said in April it was alarmed by the trend and that a new generation of youth addicted to nicotine could lead to a resurgence in smoking and other health problems.

Also last month, federal Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor launched consultations on potential new regulatory measures aimed at reducing the uptick of youth vaping. This consultation, which runs until May 25, is considering measures that include restricting online sales and certain flavours, and restricting the concentration or delivery of nicotine in vaping products.

Doucas said what’s happening elsewhere makes maintaining the Quebec measures even more important.

“Everything is pointing to things getting far more restricted based on this huge surge in youth vaping,” she said.

The Canadian Cancer Society said it is also concerned about youth vaping and called for an appeal.

“The result of this ruling is you could have the potential of having e-cigarette advertising anywhere, at any time,” said Rob Cunningham, senior policy analyst with the society. “That simply would be wrong in terms of protecting youth.”


Industry reacts to Health Canada plain packaging rules for tobacco

Canadian cigarette packs will have to be plain drab brown with standardized layouts and lettering under new rules that start this fall, Health Canada says.

The government says plain packages will increase the impact of graphic health warnings about the dangers of smoking, keeping them from getting lost amid colourful designs and branding.

Health Canada says plain packages will increase the impact of graphic health warnings about the dangers of smoking.

Manufacturers will have to begin complying with labelling rules for packages and dimensions for cigarettes by Nov. 9, 2019, while retailers will have to sell only products meeting the new rules by Feb. 7, 2020.

Officials said plain packages will increase the impact of graphic health warnings about the dangers of smoking, keeping them from getting lost amid colourful designs and branding.

The government wants to stop cigarette companies from using their packs as tiny ads for their products, insisting even on a single shape and design for the packs themselves – meaning soft packs are out, as are creative designs with bevelled edges and any other distinctive features.

Health Canada picked the same dark brown for the packages as Australia did for its tobacco products a few years ago, one identified by market researchers as the ugliest colour in the world. Several European countries have used the colour as well.

“Packages with darker colours were perceived to be more ‘harmful to health’ and their products ‘harder to quit,’ in contrast to packages with lighter colours,” the department said in a summary of the plans.

Health Canada said there could be a shortage of the new packs in the early going as a very limited number of suppliers retool to make just one design instead of many different ones.

The regulations released May 1 also standardize the size and appearance of cigarettes, cigars and other tobacco products inside the packages.

Specific rules have been awaited since Parliament passed a law requiring them last fall, joining 13 other countries that have adopted similar measures.

The new rules are part of a larger strategy aimed at driving the rate of tobacco use among Canadians down to five per cent by 2035. Federal statistics show that in 2017, 18 per cent of Canadians over the age of 15 said they used tobacco in the previous month, an increase of 15 per cent from 2015.

The Canadian Cancer Society praised the government’s regulations, calling them “the best and most comprehensive in the world.”

On the flip side, the industry association representing convenience stores said plain packaging increases the appeal of contraband tobacco products and makes them harder to distinguish from legally marketed ones.

“Instead of addressing the 20 per cent of tobacco that is sold illegally in Canada, government is adding one more burden to law-abiding retailers who don’t sell to minors, comply with display bans, and partner with government to collect and remit most of the $9 billion in tobacco tax revenue every year,” Anne Kothawala, president of the Convenience Industry Council of Canada, said in a statement.

Representatives from the Ontario Korean Businessmen’s Association agree, saying the new rules will hurt small businesses.

“The only way the government can guarantee this will occur is if the law is applied equally to all products being sold and purchased in Canada, including the up to 40 percent of illegal tobacco consumed in Ontario today. To date, this government has shown no willingness to crack down on illegal manufacturers,” stated OKBA spokesperson Kenny Shim. “The booming black market of illegal, unregulated, and untaxed products not only leads to a loss in market share for our members – it also leads to a loss of hundreds of millions of dollars in government revenue, contributes to the funding of organized crime, and further compromises Canadian public health by introducing unregulated products to the market.”

The convenience industry has long advocated that plain packaging is not an effective tool to reduce smoking. In its recent eNewsletter, CICC stated: “We were successful in one key area: standardized packaging (slide and shell) will not happen for another 24 months for manufacturers, with retailers being given an additional three-month transition period to comply. On plain packaging, a few technical issues arose out of last week’s regulations that the CICC is working to clarify. We will be providing comprehensive information to both wholesalers and retailers in the coming weeks to help prepare them for this significant policy change.”

With files from Michelle Warren