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Update: Provincial approaches to vaping regulations

With the growing popularity of e-cigarettes, or vaping, health organizations across the country have been pressing for action to limit what they see as a health threat – particularly to young Canadians. The following is a brief summary of the regulatory measures provinces and territories have enacted in an attempt to deal with the situation.

BRITISH COLUMBIA

The B.C. government introduced a 10-point plan on Nov. 14 that includes cutting nicotine content in vapour pods, restricting flavours aimed at young people, increasing taxes and supporting youth-led anti-vaping campaigns. The plan also includes requiring health warnings on packaging and prevents advertising in areas where youth spend time, including bus shelters and community parks. The government said the new regulations will take effect in the spring of 2020.

ALBERTA

Alberta has no provincial legislation to address vaping, however, some of its municipalities have bylaws that restrict e-cigarette use in public places. The province’s health minister, Tyler Shandro, has also asked for a review of tobacco and smoking legislation, with a focus on regulating vaping, as soon as this fall. The government says the review will help it develop strategies to protect Albertans from the harms of vaping, tobacco and tobacco-like products, and assess the effectiveness of current legislation.

SASKATCHEWAN

The Saskatchewan government has passed amendments to its Tobacco Control Act to bring regulation of vaping in line with existing tobacco legislation. The new rules will restrict the sale of vaping products to people 18 and older and prohibit the promotion of such products in businesses frequented by young people, such as arcades, theatres and amusement parks. The use of vape products will also be restricted in and around public buildings, including schools and school grounds. The province says it expects the new regulations to be in force early in the new year.

MANITOBA

The Manitoba government’s Non-Smokers Health Protection and Vapour Products Act prohibits vaping by people under the age of 18. It also bans vapingin indoor public places like schools, libraries, hospitals, malls, restaurants and indoor workplaces. The province’s ban on the advertising and promotion of tobacco products covers e-cigarettes as well.

ONTARIO

Ontario has announced that as Jan. 1, 2020, it will ban the promotion of vaping products in convenience stores and gas stations. The government said the decision was made in response to new research that shows vaping is on the rise among the province’s youth. However, the promotion of vaping will still be allowed in specialty vape and cannabis shops, which are open to people 19 and older.

QUEBEC

In Quebec, the sale and supply of vape products to anyone under the age of 18 is illegal, and photo ID is required to buy such products. The online sale of vape products, as well as their use, is banned wherever tobacco smoking is banned. Electronic cigarette advertising – except ads in newspapers or magazines that have an adult readership of not less than 85% – is prohibited, as is the display of e-cigarettes in stores accessible to people under age 18. However, adding flavours to the liquids used in e-cigarettes remains legal, whereas it is not for tobacco products.

NEW BRUNSWICK

New Brunswick bans the sale of e-cigarettes and e-juices to people under age 19, and no one under that age is allowed to enter a vape shop unless accompanied by an adult. Outdoor advertising by vape shops is prohibited and promotional material inside the shops cannot be viewed from the outside. Restrictions on promotional materials that apply to tobacco in other retail shops also apply to e-cigarettes. The sale of flavoured tobacco, including menthol, is also banned in New Brunswick.

NOVA SCOTIA

Nova Scotia banned the sale of e-cigarettes to anyone under 19 in 2015. Vaping is also prohibited in any venue where tobacco smoking is banned, and vape shops are not allowed to display e-cigarette advertising outside their businesses. In October, Premier Stephen McNeil said his government was also looking at regulations that could ban flavoured vaping products. He said a series of potential regulatory changes were being considered, including a requirement for licences to sell vaping products, similar to those required to sell tobacco.

PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND

P.E.I. prohibits the sale of vaping products to people under the age of 19, and e-cigarette sales are banned wherever tobacco sales are prohibited. Vape shops are not allowed to display e-cigarette devices in a way that makes them visible from outside the premises. Vaping or product sampling in retail outlets is prohibited, as it is in a public place or workplace. Any advertising that is misleading regarding the characteristics, health effects and health hazards of vaping products is also illegal. However, the province is on the verge of passing strict measures that would see it have the highest age restriction in the country: A private member’s bill would raise the legal age to buy tobacco and e-cigarettes from 19 to 21, ban certain flavours of e-cigarettes and restrict where the products can be sold.

NEWFOUNDLAND AND LABRADOR

Newfoundland and Labrador bans the sale of vaping products to people under age 19. Sales of such products are also banned wherever tobacco sales are banned, and promotional materials for vaping products cannot be visible inside or outside the shop where they’re sold. Vape shops are allowed to operate in the province providing they only sell vapour products.

YUKON

Yukon does not currently have any laws dealing with vaping. However, a bill was introduced in its legislative assembly in October that would, if passed, set the minimum age for buying vape products to 19 and prohibit the display or advertising of such products.

NORTHWEST TERRITORIES

In the Northwest Territories, the Smoking Control and Reduction Act was passed in August but is not yet in effect. The rule changes would regulate the sale, display and advertising of vape products and the substances used in e-cigarettes. It would prohibit the use of these products by people under the age of 19 and ban the sale of food items that are designed to resemble vape (and tobacco) products. The sale of vape products at locations such as schools, hospitals, pools and recreational facilities would also be banned.

NUNAVUT

In Nunavut, current regulations only dictate where people can vape, but the territory’s chief medical officer of health has said amendments to the territory’s Tobacco Control Act to put stricter restrictions on vaping will likely be implemented sometime in 2020. Dr. Michael Patterson said the new rules would likely mirror tobacco regulations, which ban flavoured tobacco and flashy packaging aimed at enticing young people.

 


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B.C. government moves to tax and restrict vaping products to protect youth

The British Columbia government introduced a 10-point plan last week to protect youth from the health risks of vaping that includes cutting nicotine content in vapour pods, restricting flavours aimed at young people, increasing taxes on products and supporting youth-led anti-vaping campaigns.

Unknown-1Health Minister Adrian Dix said youth vaping rates are increasing, putting young people at risk of serious illness, prompting the government to introduce the most comprehensive vaping plan in Canada.

“In a short number of years, vaping has shifted from being a smoking cessation tool for adults to an addictions trap for our youth,” he said during a news conference.

Dix cited data from a British Medical Journal report that youth vaping rates have increased 74% between 2017 and 2018.

Vaping-associated illness cases have been reported across Canada, with three suspected cases in B.C., said Dix.

The government will introduce new regulations that take effect in the spring of 2020 that restrict the amount of nicotine in vapour pods, require health warnings and prevent advertising of vapour products in areas where youth spend time, including bus shelters and community parks.

Vaping juice comes in a variety of flavours like vanilla, cotton candy or berry, and Dix said the sale of such flavours would only be permitted in age-restricted outlets where vapour products are sold.

“We wanted to target the issue of flavours and limit it dramatically,” he said. “We will be restricting access to certain flavours and only allowing other flavours, other than tobacco flavours, in adult-only stores. That’s a significant step.”

Dix said he was optimistic the federal government will soon join B.C. in adopting nationwide vaping measures.

A vaping industry spokesman said there are concerns the government’s approach to restricting flavours could harm efforts by adults to quit smoking. Daniel David, Vaping Industry Trade Association president, said in a statement that B.C.’s regulations limiting nicotine content for people who vape could send them to underground sources.

“VITA supports the provincial government’s role in using regulatory tools to address youth vaping but creating a patchwork of legislation across the provinces will only feed the black market and push adult vapers back to cigarettes,” said David.

Finance Minister Carole James said the government will introduce legislation this month that boosts the provincial sales tax on vapingproducts from 7% to 20%.

“Yes, it is a big tax jump and one that really signifies the urgency of this problem. We all know that youth are particularly price sensitive, and so when you make a product more expensive and harder to access, youth will decline,” James said.

Education Minister Rob Fleming said the plan includes youth-led campaigns in schools to help young people steer away from vaping.

“It will unleash the power of young people talking to young people, youth to youth, peer to peer,” he said. “We will be working with students to de-normalize vaping.”

The B.C. School Trustees Association has asked the government for help, saying many districts in B.C. are spending too much time monitoring and addressing the problem of vaping in schools.

Nirmala Raniga, the founder of the Chopra Addiction and Wellness Centre in Squamish, B.C., said launching a youth-led anti-vaping initiative in B.C. schools gives young people a positive outlet to turn to as pressures to smoke, vape and try drugs arise.

“Young people need to belong,” said Raniga, who has been treating people with addictions for more than 30 years. “The most positive I see is the youth who are struggling with this coming out and sharing their story with their peers.”

Health Canada has issued a warning to people who vape to monitor themselves for symptoms of vaping-related pulmonary illness following hundreds of such cases in the United States and a few in Canada.

Dr. Meena Dawar, Vancouver Coastal medical health officer, said the government campaign is a positive step towards fighting increases in vaping health and addictions issues for youth. She said nicotine content in vaping products has increased and those products contribute to a “chemical cocktail.”

“Recent data indicate that one in five youth, grades 7 to 12, use vaping products or have used vaping products in the previous 30 days,” she said.


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Plain cigarette packs to hit shelves as ‘best in the world’ regulations kick in

Screen Shot 2019-11-01 at 10.35.38 AMSmokers will soon see their cigarette packs stripped of logos and distinctive designs as federal rules make drab brown the default colour for tobacco brands.

Plain-packaged cigarettes have started to pop up on shelves as the tobacco industry prepares for Health Canada’s regulations to take effect on Nov. 9, after which retailers will have a 90-day window to offload their remaining inventory.

All packaging will feature the same brown base colour, basic grey text and minimalist layout under the new requirements. The measures will also standardize the size and appearance of cigarettes, cigars and other products inside the packages.

Health experts and advocates say the policy positions Canada at the forefront of a global push to curb the appeal of cigarette brands, particularly among youth, and eliminate packages as pocket-sized promotions for Big Tobacco.

Rob Cunningham, a senior policy analyst at the Canadian Cancer Society, lauded Canada’s plain-packaging regulations as “the best in the world,” having learned from the examples of at least 13 other countries that have adopted similar measures.

Cunningham adds that Canada is leading the charge in eliminating extra-long and “slim” cigarettes, which tend to be marketed to women.

In 2021, slide-and-shell packages will become mandatory in Canada, providing a wider surface area that will display the largest health warnings in the world, he said.

“This measure is going to have an important difference, especially over time,” said Cunningham. “We will have kids who will grow up not exposed to branded packages.”

As regulators have cracked down on many forms of tobacco advertising, packages have become powerful branding tools to appeal to consumers, said University of Waterloo psychology professor Geoffrey Fong.

“The package designs (are) really amazingly glitzy and very attractive, especially to kids,” said Fong, the founder and chief principal investigator of the International Tobacco Control Policy Evaluation Project.

“What we’ve found is that plain packaging has tremendous effects on reducing the appeal of these deadly products.”

Fong said cigarette packages are designed to deceive consumers into thinking some brands are less harmful than others. For example, he said, studies indicate that cigarette packages with light colours and white space are perceived to have lower health risks than dark-toned products.

Fong said there’s evidence suggesting that plain packaging reduces these misconceptions, while making health warnings more salient by eliminating eye-catching distractions.

In his own research, Fong found that less than 29 per cent of Canadian smokers were in favour of plain packaging – a lower level of support than any other “endgame” tobacco measure tested in the 2016 survey.

He interprets this result not as opposition to the policy, but uncertainty about what it will entail, projecting that approval will rise as smokers acclimate to the new norm.

Tobacco manufacturers expect there will be a learning curve as consumers adjust to the new look, and in some cases, new names of their preferred brands.

For example, Belmont Silver will be known as Belmont Select under the new rules for brand names prohibiting references to colours or filter characteristics.

Jeff Gaulin, director of external affairs at Rothmans, Benson & Hedges, said the company has been working to ensure that retailers are aware of the changes by updating the names in its ordering system months in advance, as well as setting up a website for consumers to find out what products will be affected.

“I think things will go pretty smoothly,” said Gaulin. “That said, there will still be some hiccups… There may be shortages, but if there are, I think they’ll be very, very minimal.”

While he said Rothmans, Benson & Hedges doesn’t oppose plain packaging for conventional cigarettes, Imperial Tobacco Canada objects to the policy on several fronts, said head of regulatory affairs Eric Gagnon.

“You’re changing the entire supply chain,” said Gagnon. “It’s not like you just turn a key on and off. You need to change all your artwork, all your equipment, retool all your machines, so obviously, it’s very costly and a very complex operation.”

Gagnon contends that plain packaging doesn’t work and boosts the illicit sale of tobacco products.

Other industry members have mounted similar criticisms, which the World Health Organization has described as “baseless” and “not supported by the evidence.”

Gagnon declined to comment on whether Imperial Tobacco is considering challenging the regulations in court, but Cunningham of the Canadian Cancer Society notes that tobacco companies have been fighting plain packaging in Canada since public-health officials first put forward proposals in 1994.

In the 25 years since, Cunningham said efforts have been bolstered by a growing body of evidence suggesting these policies have had an impact in other countries, and Canada may be next.

“All of these countries wouldn’t be doing this in the face of strong opposition from the tobacco industry if it wouldn’t work,” he said. “It’s a highly effective measure, and that’s why they’ve opposed it for so long, and that’s why we place great emphasis on it.”


Here’s what c-stores need to know about vaping regulations

Screen Shot 2019-05-08 at 3.18.20 PMAlthough 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. According to Health Canada, vaping can lead to nicotine addiction, it can cause lung damage, and the long-term impacts remain unknown. As a result, government regulators are looking closely at the sector and there are a number of requirements for convenience operators.

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.

Concerns about the appeal of vaping for young people is something 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 of Fontem Canada (blu) 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.

“Accordingly, we strongly support government regulatory initiatives aimed at preventing vaping products to be targeted at youth in Canada and around the world.”

Originally published in the May/June issue of Convenience Store News Canada. 


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.

Vaping and c-stores: 6 burning questions answered

Screen Shot 2019-05-08 at 3.18.20 PMNot all that long ago, tobacco was the staple for c-stores across Canada. Cigarettes, by the package (large and small) and by the carton (large and small) lined shelves in full display of a steady stream of customers. Those days are gone. In their place are new customers looking to buy a product that has the allure of smoking without, potentially, containing the more than 4,000 chemicals in the typical cigarette.

Electronic cigarettes, commonly called e-cigarettes or simply e-cigs, and related products are becoming a staple for many tobacco smokers and a cadre of non-smokers. As a result, the product category offers convenience stores a new and growing opportunity to draw more customers into their premises more often. The category, however, is not without controversy.

As you enter this brave new world, it’s time to get to know this emerging category.

1. What is vaping?

Vaping refers to the act of inhaling and exhaling – or smoking – a vapour (aerosol) produced by products like e-cigarettes. Vaping products heat liquid formulations, called e-liquids, which are then inhaled.

According to Imperial Tobacco Canada, most vapour products are based on what is called a coil and wick technology. The coil, also known as an atomizer, heats a cotton wick that conveys the liquid, producing the vapour that is inhaled.

Vaping devices come in numerous shapes and sizes, a factor that has confused many in the c-store sector. Some products are small and resemble USB drives or pens. Others are much larger. Despite the diversity of options, however, there are only two types of vaping devices, Health Canada reports. An open system enables the device to be refilled. A closed system requires the whole product or the part that holds the e-liquid to be replaced.

There are also related systems and products including what are called heat-not-burn products that heat tobacco instead of burning it.

2. As a category, is vaping different from smoking?

Absolutely, says Rob Colucci of Fontem Canada – blu Vapour, whose overarching goal as a vaping product company is to transition adult smokers to something better and ultimately eliminate the consumption of combustible (smoking) tobacco. “As a category vapour has exponential growth potential,” he says. “The key to this goal is to help existing adult smokers switch by offering vaping products as a less harmful alternative to cigarettes. Health Canada recognizes and shares this goal, as is made clear on their website where it is noted that vaping is less harmful than smoking.”

3. How prevalent is vaping?

That is a difficult question to answer. A 2017 study from the University of Waterloo, Tobacco Use in Canada, found that in 2015, among Canadians 15 years and older a “substantial number” had tried e-cigarettes. The specific numbers look like this:

  • 13.2% (3.9 million) reported having ever tried an e-cigarette
  • 3.2% (approximately 946,000) used one in the past 30 days
  • 1.0% (roughly 308,000) reported daily use

The use of e-cigarettes is also growing in popularity, according to the report. That popularity appears to be global. In the U.S., for example, a national survey in 2016 found that roughly 4.5 per cent of the adult population were current e-cigarette users. Individuals under 35 accounted for more than half of this figure.

“The vaping market is relatively new and expected to grow rapidly as cigarette sales decline,” notes Michael Nederhoff, Canada’s general manager with JUUL Labs in Toronto. “Some estimate the yearly growth rate of this category is over 15 per cent and could cross $43 billion globally by 2023.”

4. What is the sales potential of e-cigarettes for c-stores?

“Vaping products present a big opportunity for convenience stores,” says Nederhoff. “Vapes are on their way to becoming a sizable product category for convenience store operators. Adult smokers are increasingly interested in what vaping technology has to offer. And regulators and industry are working hard to make sure these products are available in a responsible and controlled way.”

Charis Chrysochoidis, reduced risk products lead for Canada with JTI-Macdonald Corp., in Toronto, points out that the category is likely to expand given a regulatory reversal by Health Canada. “The sale of nicotine containing e-liquids was only legalized in May 2018, so we expect the category to grow over the next couple of years as more adult consumers discover alternative choices to their existing smoking and vaping products. And we think most of this growth will occur through convenience store sales.”

The margin on vape products is also superior to tobacco, notes Stewart Ingles, president of Hilary’s Salesmaster Inc, a national retail distributor based in Concord, Ont. “Convenience stores hardly ever get true dollar margins as they will with this category, so they need to embrace and promote within their stores based on the provincial legal rules.”

“This, in my opinion,” he adds, “is the most important new category to enter this market since the energy drinks.”

5. Will consumers switch from online to in-store?

There is another reason vaping is growing in Canada and has the potential to become a big category in c-stores, says Peter Luongo, Rothmans, Benson & Hedges Inc.’s managing director in Toronto. “Currently online sales are the number one channel for vape product sales, and specialized vape stores are another potential destination for consumers.”

Indeed, says Nederhoff, “convenience stores are one of few brick-and-mortar options for adult smokers to legally purchase vaping devices and products. As such, they play an integral role.”

From a sales perspective, there is no special equipment or features required to sell vaping products. Pricing is also straightforward if c-stores follow the manufacturers’ recommend price point. While prices will vary according to type of product and manufacturer, the market is competitive. C-stores can expect pricing to reflect that competitive market.

6. What do c-store owners need to know about the products?

Understanding e-cigarettes and vaping products has proven problematic. “Initially, the vaping category flooded convenience store owners with complex systems that were hard to explain to both store owners and consumers,” says Chrysochoidis.

JTI is hoping it has cut through this confusion with its new vape system, which Chrysochoidis calls a “game changer.” “Logic Compact offers convenience stores a simple and easy way to use vape, and consumers are responding positively. With its magnetic pods and charger, vaping just clicks with Logic Compact.”

The system, known as a closed tank, uses replaceable 1.6ml pre-filled e-liquid pods. The pods come in four flavours — tobacco, menthol, fresh berries and tropical — and click seamlessly into the device magnetically, as does the charging cable. “Choosing simple, sleek vape technology like Logic Compact makes it easy for convenience store owners to increase foot traffic and revenues and capitalize on the profit opportunity that vapes represent,” says Chrysochoidis.

Other companies, such as JUUL, offer c-stores the option to carry pods in flavours that range from mango to cucumber to Virginia tobacco. These sell for a recommended $20.99 a pack. Device kits, including starter kits, are also essential. JUUL’s starter kit, for instance, includes a rechargeable device, USB charging dock, four JUULpods, and it comes with a one-year limited device warranty.

Then there is the IQOS 3 MULTI, a heated tobacco system and not technically a vape, that gives customers 10 back-to-back experiences without having to charge the IQOS holder in between heatsticks.

Variety defines the vaping market.

Except from The Vape Report in the May/June Issue of Convenience Store News Canada