Quebec has just passed a bill banning flavours and setting a nicotine cap, and is now receiving submissions pertaining to the measure.
Back in December 2020, Quebec’s Health Minister Christian Dubé, had announced plans to limit nicotine concentrations in vaping products to 20 mg/ml, and to ban flavours. A public health report released at the time, had blamed flavoured cartridges for a surge in vaping among high-schoolers.
The document pointed out that the majority of teens and young adults ages 15 to 19 prefer fruit, dessert or mint flavours, while few young people preferred the tobacco flavour, which is the only flavour Quebec intends to continue allowing on the market. To this effect, flavoured products were blamed for an alleged 70% increase in high-school vaping since 2016.
These new regulations were finally tabled last week and the government has 45 days to receive submissions and consult with concerned parties. The new regulations would come into effect in mid-July, 90 days after it was first published on the government’s official journal, Gazette officielle du Québec.
The publication revealed that besides the flavour ban and nicotine cap, the new measure would also restrict the sale of vaping products in “the form of a toy, a jewel, a food, an animal or a real or fictional character or any other form, appearance or function which may be attractive to minors.”
Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and P.E.I. have already set in place such bans, while Ontario and British Columbia have set restrictions as to where flavours can be sold. Meanwhile last year, the Canadian Tobacco and Nicotine Survey revealed that thanks to an increase in vaping between 2019 and 2020, there was a 40% drop in smoking rates amongst teens, from 13.3% to 8%. This figure is encouraging for Health Canada’s smoking prevalence target of 5% for 2035. Moreover the target has already been achieved among those aged 15-19, as the smoking rate is currently no more than 5%.
Discussing the flavour ban set in place in NB, the Canadian Vaping Association (CVA) has recently said that the measure was “rushed,” and highlighted there is “little evidence” that flavour bans actually reduce youth consumption. Additionally, said the group, the enactment of such bans in the other regions has had dire outcomes. “The result of the ban will be a flood of black-market products, an increase in cigarette sales and smoking-related deaths. These consequences must be acknowledged.”
Switching from smoking to vaping has multiple benefits
In another recent press release, the CVA said that youth mental well-being in Canada has seen a decline in recent years, and similar patterns are observed around the world. The group pointed out that while those who support flavour bans insist that the availability of flavours is what encourages young people to try the products, they ignore the data indicating that switching from smoking to vaping, improves their mental well-being levels.
“A study conducted in BC asked youth about quitting vaping, where 24% of youth reported that vaping improved their mental health and 11% indicated that mental health counseling would help them quit vaping. In their comments, there are requests for judgement-free and shameless approaches to quit vaping, as well as education on how to quit. While it may seem obvious that a federal strategy would outline support and stress management for youth, the battle has been wrongfully directed towards flavours,” said the CVA.