Toughest regulations in the country: What you now need to know about vaping in B.C.
VANCOUVER - The province announced tough new rules this week governing the sale of vaping products in an effort to keep them out of the hands of B.C.'s youth.
The strict measures are currently the toughest regulations planned anywhere in Canada, and were issued following warnings from health officials that we don't really know all the risks.
So far, three cases of illness in B.C. are believed to be related to vaping – and all three were reported between October and November.
Studies suggest youth vaping rates are rapidly rising, and not only is nicotine highly addictive, but it can impact brain development in young people.
B.C.'s new plan restricts the sale of flavoured products to age-restricted shops. It also bans some flavours, requires plain packaging and limits advertising, and a new tax rate will kick in at the start of next year.
Provincial sales tax on the products will jump from seven to 20 per cent on Jan. 1.
It's a move that prompted the Canadian Cancer Society to call B.C. a leader.
"We cannot allow another generation of kids to become addicted to nicotine through e-cigarettes," Rob Cunningham said.
The provincial Liberals pitched an all-out ban of flavoured e-cigarettes, and said they'll be watching for further action. But the industry said patchwork legislation province-by-province would only feed the black market and encourage smokers to return to cigarettes.
A day after announcing the changes, B.C.'s health minister spoke to CTV News Vancouver about the regulations, which are expected to take effect in the spring.
Question from CTV Morning Live: Tell us what you wanted to accomplish.
Answer from Adrian Dix: "Really when you're talking about youth vaping, we're talking about three concerns. One is nicotine, because it's addictive and we have higher levels, higher concentrations of nicotine in vaping in Canada – so we've reduced them to the level of the United Kingdom, the European Union, which I think will help because they have lower youth vaping rates there.
"Second is flavours. So we've taken action on flavours; you can only get them in adult-only stores, so you have to be an adult to go in the store, which is a significant change and restriction.
"And third I think is just a change in attitude. I think the view has been that these products are positive, and for some people, of course, they are. But if you haven't vaped, you haven't ingested nicotine in your life like essentially every young person, then vaping doesn't make sense for you. It's not allowed and we have to take action to deal with it."
Question: What about the advertising?
Answer: "This is where the jurisdiction question comes in. The advertising question is mostly in the federal government's responsibility. We're taking action on areas where youth would congregate – bus stops and other areas – where I think that you see vaping ads.
"I think the difference between the ads you can see…the federal government did what I call 'mild ads,' which say, 'For more information on vaping, go to this website.' Then a major vaping company, which I won't name, was having ads at SkyTrain that were, shall we say, much more attractive and much more direct. An appeal to vape and an appeal to get more information.
"What we have to say, I think, to young people is, 'Don't vape.' And we have to listen to young people, so a big part of our campaign will be a youth-led process of youth talking to youth."
Question: Do you feel that it's a legitimate concern that the increased tax will drive people back to cigarettes?
Answer: "If you're using vaping as a smoking cessation technique today, you'll still be able to after Jan. 1 and after April 1. I can give you lots of studies, but just go to any high school in this city or other cities in British Columbia.
"Go to, sadly, some middle schools, some elementary schools. You'll find children vaping, sometimes in large numbers. The idea that we weren't going to act is just wrong. We had to, and I think we should act.
"I think the current regulations were too permissive and allowed and contributed to the problem amongst young people, so we had to change that.
"But they're right about one thing: the federal government needs to act too. They've got some powers to do so. There should be some consistency across jurisdictions in Canada. The vaping industry should know what the rules are, whether they're in B.C. or Manitoba or Ontario, and the federal government can do that. They've taken some time, and I'm not going to be critical of them today because I'm optimistic that, in the weeks to come, the new federal government – they're going to take action."
Dix was also asked about whether he considered banning all flavours, and how the province came up with the 20 per cent tax rate. Watch the full interview on CTV Morning Live.