(Source: Rob Cunningham – Senior Policy Analyst – Canadian Cancer Society)

Updated on January 10, 2019

There has been considerable recent activity across Canada regarding e-cigarette legislation, as summarized below.

In PEI, on Nov. 21, 2019, Bill 112, a private member’s bill introduced by Progressive Conservative MLA Cory Deagle, received all-party unanimous approval at third reading, as was also the case at second reading and Committee of the Whole.  The bill will set a minimum age of 21 for tobacco and e-cigarettes (a Canadian first), will require that e-cigarettes only be sold in specialty stores and not convenience stores (a Canadian first), and will establish regulatory authority to restrict flavours in e-cigarettes. The bill received Royal Assent November 28, 2019 and will come into force March 27, 2020. Individuals who are age 19 as of March 27, 2020 will be exempt from the age 21 provision.

In British Columbia, on Nov. 14, 2019, the provincial government announced that it would move forward with a series of measures to reduce youth vaping including: setting a maximum nicotine level of 20 mg/ml (a Canadian first based on the EU standard); banning the sale of flavoured e-cigarettes except in adult-only premises, as well as banning certain youth appealing flavours (both Canadian firsts); restrictions on e-cigarette advertising; plain packaging for e-cigarettes (a world first, though some other countries are in progress); and a tax on e-cigarettes (a Canadian first, though Alberta had previously announced plans to do so).  On Dec. 17, 2019, the BC government launched a public consultation ending Jan. 24, 2020 regarding implementation of the proposed regulatory measures. The regulatory measures are intended to take effect April 1, 2020. The provincial sales tax on e-cigarettes was increased by 13%, from the normal 7% to 20%, effective Jan. 1, 2020. On April 11, 2019, Liberal MLA Todd Stone introduced a private member’s bill, Bill 210, that includes a ban on flavours for e-cigarettes; regulations could prescribe exemptions.

Saskatchewan (Bill 182, third reading Nov. 6, 2019), Yukon (Bill 3, third reading Oct. 17, 2019) and Northwest Territories (Bills 40, 41, third reading Aug. 13, 2019) have adopted e-cigarette legislation prohibiting sales to minors; prohibiting use where smoking banned; prohibiting sales where tobacco sales are banned; prohibiting displays and advertising in retail stores; and establishing regulatory authority to restrict flavours.

In Ontario, on Oct. 25, 2019, the provincial government announced new regulations to prohibit e-cigarette advertising in retail stores effective Jan. 1, 2020, thus catching up to other provinces having e-cigarette legislation. On Nov. 28, 2019, NDP health critic France Gélinas introduced a private member’s bill regarding e-cigarettes, Bill 151, with provisions to ban promotion; ban flavours unless exempted by regulation; set a maximum nicotine level in pods and liquids of 20 mg/ml; ban sales except in adult-only specialty vape stores; require specialty vape stores to be approved by the local Board of Health; authorize the Health Minister to direct that tax revenue from e-cigarette sales in specialty vape shops be directed to public education, provided that the Legislature appropriates funds for this purpose; require Ontario Health to prepare an annual report to the Health Minister on youth vaping with information and recommendations.

In Alberta, on Oct. 25, 2019, the provincial government announced that it would be conducting a review of provincial legislation regarding tobacco and e-cigarette measures, to be completed by Christmas, with legislation to be introduced in Spring 2020.  The review which is led by MLA Jeremy Nixon. On Oct. 24, 2019, in the provincial budget, the government announced that it would implement a tax on vaping products in the Spring 2020 budget.

In Nova Scotia, on December 5, 2019, the Nova Scotia Government announced regulations to ban the sale of flavoured vaping products (except tobacco flavour) effective April 1, 2020, and committed to introduce legislation to adopt further measures (though not yet specifying the measures).

In New Brunswick, on Nov. 19, 2019, the Throne Speech was delivered, stating in part “Health risks associated with vaping, especially for young people, is a rising concern. Government will work with health specialists and advocates to develop a strategy to combat youth vaping in New Brunswick.”

In Quebec, on Nov. 25, 2019, Health Minister Danielle McCann announced the establishment of a new special task force to provide recommendations by April 2020 on tobacco and e-cigarettes. The mandate of the group includes looking at flavours, maximum nicotine levels and accessibility. A La Presse article regarding the announcement indicated that the Quebec government is also intending a type of medical authorization in order for an individual to purchase e-cigarettes, or at least some e-cigarettes.

In Nunavut, on Sept. 26, 2019, the Chief Medical Officer stated that consultations were going to be held regarding amendments to the Tobacco Control Act to strengthen provisions regarding e-cigarettes.

Federally, on Dec. 19, 2019, Minister of Health Patty Hajdu announced draft new federal promotion regulations for vaping products, with advertising to be banned in locations seen or heard by youth; there is a 30-day consultation period. The news release stated that “additional measures with respect to reducing nicotine concentration limits and additional flavour restrictions are being examined”. In a separate measure, on Dec. 19, 2019, the Vaping Product Packaging and Labelling Regulations were adopted, requiring a health warning on packaging, an indication of nicotine level, and child-resistant packaging. On Dec. 13, 2019, Prime Minister Trudeau’s mandate letter to Minister of Health Patty Hajdu was released, stating: “In cooperation with other orders of government and key stakeholders, address the rapid rise in youth vaping. This should start with regulations to reduce the promotion and appeal of vaping products to young people and public education to create awareness of health risks. You are encouraged to explore additional measures.” On Sept. 19, 2019, during the election campaign, 8 health organizations including CCS held a joint news conference on Parliament Hill to call for urgent measures to reduce youth vaping once the new federal government is in place.  Recommendations included restrictions on advertising, restrictions on flavours, and setting maximum nicotine levels. The news conference generated extensive national media coverage.