San Francisco is the first U.S. city to ban e-cigarette sales — Where does Canada stand?

A cashier displays a packet of tobacco-flavoured Juul pods at a store in San Francisco. .
A cashier displays a packet of tobacco-flavoured Juul pods at a store in San Francisco. . (AP Photo/Samantha Maldonado)

With a rise in youth vaping top of mind, San Francisco became the first U.S. city to ban sales of e-cigarettes in a unanimous vote on Tuesday.

The bill needs a final stamp of approval from the mayor and is expected to be implemented in six months.

The legislation bans all sales, manufacturing and distribution of e-cigarettes in the city — at least until the U.S. Food and Drug Administration reviews the health and safety of the products. The city, which had already placed rules around flavoured products, sees the law as more like a “moratorium” until then.

READ MORE: E-cigarette flavourings could pose a risk to your heart — study

Following the vote, city attorney Dennis Herrera described the move as a “decisive step” to help teens from becoming addicted to nicotine, the ingredient found in vape liquids.

“This is not an outright ban on e-cigarettes. It’s a prohibition against any e-cigarettes that haven’t been reviewed by the FDA to confirm that they are appropriate for the protection of public health,” Herrera said.

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“So far, no e-cigarettes have been put through the review process that is required by law.”

While some federal regulations exist, including restrictions on certain flavoured products and advertising, a complete review of e-cigarettes devices by the FDA was delayed until 2022. Vape companies have until then to submit applications to the FDA to continue selling their products. The delay has angered smoke-free groups to the point of lawsuits and has left regulations in the hands of states and cities.

WATCH: Growing number of Canadian youth vaping

Growing number of Canadian youth vaping
Growing number of Canadian youth vaping

The San Francisco legislation, while not retroactive, has Juul in its firing range.

Juul is top dog in the e-cigarette world at the moment. The company is based in San Francisco and just last week announced the purchase of a new office space to accommodate its growth. Juul has maintained that it does not sell tobacco products on site, however the city attorney is skeptical. The FDA previously requested marketing and design documents from the Juul makers when it began narrowing in on vape products.

However, Juul isn’t backing down. The company is currently collecting signatures for a November ballot measure to block the ban and has already amassed a number of supporters, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

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As the California city makes history in the U.S., here’s a look at where Canada stands:

E-cigarettes in Canada

In Canada, the federal government has regulatory restrictions on the sale and use of e-cigarettes.

In May 2018, Canada formally legalized nicotine-based vaping and e-cigarettes for adults with the passing of Bill S-5, the new Tobacco and Vaping Products Act.

The bill ushered in some measures to curb the sale of vaping products to people under 18, including mandatory “child-resistant” packaging for nicotine products, and clamped down on “lifestyle advertising.”

The bill opened the floodgates for U.S. and international vaping brands to enter the Canadian market.

READ MORE: Teen’s e-cigarette explodes in his face, leaving him with a broken jaw

A new study released this month suggests teens have increasingly picked up a device.

Youth vaping in Canada has jumped a considerable 74 per cent between 2017 and 2018, according to University of Waterloo professor David Hammond, who led the study.

The number of Canadian teens between 16 and 19 who took up vaping climbed from 8.4 per cent in 2017 to 14.6 per cent last year.

The study showed how Juul has impacted Canadian teens since it entered the market in 2018. The percentage of Canadian youth who started using the device rose from zero to 10 per cent in the first month the product crossed the border to Canada in 2018, according to the study.

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The researcher said the findings show a “rapidly evolving vaping market.”

Health Canada conducted consultations on proposed measures that would further restrict advertising and examine nicotine concentration and flavours in the vaping products, all with an eye on deterring young people from picking up a pen.

More recently, Ginette Petitpas Taylor, Canada’s minister of health, launched new consultations on proposed rules around packaging and labelling.

“Health Canada is very concerned about the mounting evidence that vaping rates in Canada are increasing at an alarming rate. Dr. David Hammond’s recent report on smoking and vaping rates among Canadian youth provides further evidence of this trend,” Eric Morrissette with Health Canada told Global News.

“Nicotine is a highly addictive chemical. Youth are especially susceptible to its negative effects.”

WATCH: Health organizations call for stricter rules on vaping

Health organizations call for stricter rules on vaping
Health organizations call for stricter rules on vaping

Juul, which is similarly popular in Canada, wants to be seen as a healthier alternative for tobacco smokers. The company says it is working with all levels of government on the future of vape products in Canada.

“Juul works with federal and provincial regulators to strike the right balance on vapour products — allowing current adult smokers to impact their lives by accessing these products while restricting access for youth and non-smokers,” Lisa Hutniak with Juul Labs Canada told Global News.

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“We believe that smokers need more effective alternatives to help them move away from combustible cigarettes.”

Health Canada doesn’t see it that way and wants youth and non-smokers to drop nicotine altogether.

Until the consultations finish and the federal government brings the legislation up to speed, explicit regulations in Canada fall to the provincial and municipal levels at the moment.


Vaping was couched into the Smoke-Free Ontario Act in 2017.

Like cigarettes, vapes and vaping supplies can only be sold to someone 19 and over. Anyone under that age is not even allowed to set foot into a vape-designated shop. It’s also illegal to smoke or use an e-cigarette in a motor vehicle if a person under 16 is riding along.

Under the act, smokers and vapers are prohibited from puffing in and around public places.

WATCH: Peterborough Public Health cracking down on vaping and e-cigarettes

Peterborough Public Health cracking down on vaping and e-cigarettes
Peterborough Public Health cracking down on vaping and e-cigarettes

There is a specific exemption to the public-vaping rule — any branch of the Royal Canadian Legion or veterans’ organization that “established an uncovered patio before Nov. 18, 2013” can smoke and vape.

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Point-of-sale advertising, where a customer pays for goods in a store, was tightened under the act, along with advertising. Vape products must be hidden from view until requested by a customer. Specialty vape stores need to be registered with a public health unit and can let customers sample products so long as they’re of age.

British Columbia

Starting Sept. 1, new laws pertaining to the sale and use of e-cigarettes will come into effect in B.C.

Like much of the rest of the country, youth vaping concerns are at the heart of the restrictions.

The new regulations state that e-cigarette and vape sales will be limited to people 19 and older and cannot be sold in public buildings. Stores that choose to sell products need to reel back advertising, especially any sort of display that would appeal to or target youth.

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix has been outspoken about vaping, saying recently that the province is ready to further tighten measures if the federal government doesn’t step up and tweak its own rules around vaping.

Dix said the rules should be just as tight as they are for cannabis.

The province has made recommendations to Ottawa on the subject, urging federal legislators to restrict nicotine concentration in juices and strengthen advertising laws as they pertain to teens.

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READ MORE: B.C. health minister promises crackdown on youth vaping after calls for Canada to act

Saskatchewan and Alberta

Both Saskatchewan and Alberta have no provincial regulations in place for vaping.

However, some cities have started to clear the haze at a municipal level.

For example, Calgary has banned vaping everywhere tobacco is banned. The exception: customers at standalone vape shops are allowed to try out e-cigarettes and other products in-store.

Outside of Calgary, unless otherwise specified by an establishment, vaping is permitted.

The Canadian Cancer Society has urged both provinces to “immediately adopt comprehensive legislation” in the wake of Hammond’s study.

WATCH: Calgary looking for input on possible changes to smoking and vaping rules

Calgary looking for input on possible changes to smoking and vaping rules
Calgary looking for input on possible changes to smoking and vaping rules


By contrast, the laws in Quebec are strict.

The rules were amended in 2015 and treat e-cigarette products as tobacco products. The smoking of either is prohibited in a list of public and workplaces. Products cannot be sold to minors or purchased for minors by adults, and identification is required regardless of age.

The sale of vaping flavours other than tobacco is also banned.

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Fines for those who break any of these rules have recently increased and can run as high as $3,000.

READ MORE: Quebec judge declares parts of vaping legislation invalid after challenge

Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador

In Nova Scotia, vaping is treated like cannabis and tobacco, with bans on public use and sales to youth and pricy fines ready to go for those who skirt the rules. Sales are banned from pharmacies, and possession of any kind by minors is prohibited.

Newfoundland and Labrador operate similarly.

As of 2016, sales to minors are not allowed and products are banned wherever tobacco is. The use of e-cigarettes in public places is also a no-go, and vaping is exempt from certain designated areas, workplaces and long-term care facilities.

Advertising, promotion and signage for vaping products also can’t be visible inside or outside shops.

New Brunswick added e-cigarettes and vaping to its Smoke-Free Places Act in 2015 to continue “denormalizing tobacco use.”

The province also bans underage sales and use in public places, on school properties and inside vehicles with children under 16. Amendments were added later in the year that posed a ban on people under 19 entering a vape shop “unless accompanied by an adult.”

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Similar advertising rules to Newfoundland and Labrador also apply to New Brunswick.

WATCH: N.S. Lung Association sounding alarm on vaping

N.S. Lung Association sounding alarm on vaping
N.S. Lung Association sounding alarm on vaping

Prince Edward Island

A ban on flavoured tobacco and vaping products, visible outdoor advertising, use in public spaces and sales to people under 19 fall under provincial smoking legislation in P.E.I.

The PEI Tobacco Reduction Alliance has been pushing for more public education about the risks, especially for youth, as vaping rises in popularity among high school students.


Manitoba’s Non-Smokers Protection Amendment Act came into effect in 2017, which modified previous tobacco-focused legislation.

The changes ushered in a ban on sales of e-cigarettes to minors as well as advertising restrictions.

To become a vape shop in Manitoba, stores must sell e-cigarettes and accessories in “at least 85 per cent” of the shop.

Retailers who don’t qualify to be designated a vape shop can list available products on signage inside the store, but it’s a maximum of “one sign per till” and three in total on the whole premises. The rules go as far as defining font size and colouring.

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Yukon, Northwest Territories, Nunavut

E-cigarettes are not regulated in any of the three territories.