Health Canada is proposing new restrictions on advertising vaping products and e-cigarettes to minors, citing concerns about the products’ rising popularity among teens.
The proposed regulations, which have yet to be finalized, restrict advertising where youth might see it.
This means not allowing advertisements at points of sale where youth are allowed access — including online. It would also remove ads from public places like malls, billboards and public transit. Ads for vaping products wouldn’t be allowed within 30 minutes of any television or radio show aimed at children or youth, and wouldn’t be allowed in any publications, including social media platforms, that are aimed at youth.
Ads for vaping products would also have to include health warnings, whether or not the product includes nicotine.
According to a recent study conducted in 2016-17, 10 per cent of students in Grades 7 to 12 reported that they had used an e-cigarette in the past 30 days. This was an increase from the previous year.
Several provinces already restrict ads for vaping, according to Health Canada, but Alberta, Saskatchewan, Nunavut, Yukon and the Northwest Territories do not.
“I am deeply concerned about recent reports that youth vaping is on the rise,” said health minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor in a press release.
“We cannot allow these products to threaten the hard-earned gains we’ve made in tobacco control.”
“The dramatic increase in youth vaping in Canada is of deep concern,” said Rob Cunningham, senior policy analyst at the Canadian Cancer Society in an emailed statement. “We strongly support the proposed restrictions and urge that they be adopted as soon as possible. The restrictions should be strengthened, including by banning all e-cigarette advertising on television and radio.”
Health Canada also introduced a public health campaign on Tuesday that asks teens to “consider the consequences of vaping.”
Given the regulatory process, some public health advocates aren’t sure the restrictions will happen soon enough. “Regulations would take two years or more, especially given the upcoming federal elections,” said Neil Collishaw, research director for Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada. He thinks that the government should introduce legislation instead. “Tens of thousands of more kids will become addicted to nicotine by the time new regulations will come into effect,” he said.
Health Canada is taking public comments on the proposed regulations until March 22, 2019.