Wide-scale regulations on vaping are coming, the province has announced, including higher taxes, restricting access, limits on nicotine content and rules about packaging, sales and advertising.
The goal is to protect youth from risks associated with vaping.
“Some vaping manufacturers are using flavours and advertising to entice and normalize vaping for youth — introducing a new generation to very high levels of a very addictive drug,” said Health Minister Adrian Dix. “As a result, youth vaping rates are rising, putting them at risk for addiction and serious illness. That’s why we are bringing in the most comprehensive plan in the country, and supporting young people to end this dangerous trend.”
The regulations will come into force in spring 2020, following stakeholder engagement.
The move for stricter restrictions leaves many stakeholders in the Cowichan Valley region pleased, including School District 79 officials.
“The Board of Education is extremely pleased to see these proactive steps being taken by the provincial government to combat vaping across the province. As a board, we have been taking proactive steps to do our part here in the Cowichan Valley,” said board chair Candace Spilsbury. “The formation of our Vaping Committee, including the District Student Advisory Committee, District Parent Advisory Council, and Island Health, is an example of our commitment to the health and well-being of our students, schools, and community.”
North Cowichan Mayor Al Siebring said vaping has its place, but regulations are useful to help curb the impact it can have on youth.
“Vaping is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, I know of people who have used it successfully to wean themselves off cigarettes. That’s great,” Siebring explained. “But the other side of this is that it can also serve as an entry-level activity to get people — especially youth — to start smoking. And anything the government can do to cut down on that side of the equation is welcome.”
Cowichan Valley MLA Sonia Furstenau said the Green Party advocated for stronger vaping regulations and welcomes the announcement.
“Flavoured vaping products and advertising tactics that deliberately target our youth have no place in British Columbia and we must do all we can to protect youth from these predatory marketing tactics,” Furstenau said. “By eliminating appealing flavours and reducing the nicotine levels to be in line with real cigarettes, these regulations send a clear message: if you are not a smoker, vaping is not for you.”
Furstenau also said her party has heard from parents and educators worried by vaping and knew they had to bring the issue to the forefront.
“Once touted as a means to assist people struggling to quit smoking, vaping is now clearly linked to a whole new generation becoming smokers themselves,” she explained. “This comprehensive response will educate youth about the harmful effects of vaping while also curbing use by reducing product availability through fiscal incentives and by simply making the products themselves less palatable.”
Come January 2020, a new tax rate of 20 per cent, up from seven per cent would be applied to all vaping devices, the substance or juice that is used with the vaping device and any vaping part or accessory if pending legislation is passed.
“We share the urgent concerns from health professionals and parents surrounding youth vaping in our province,” said finance minister Carole James. “Our government is committed to deterring young people from turning to vapour products out of convenience and cost. We know from taxing tobacco that teenagers respond the most to price increases and we are now introducing a similar strategy for vaping.”
What’s more, public advertising of vapour products will also be restricted in areas where youth spend time, such as bus shelters or community parks. The sale of vapour flavours, other than tobacco flavours, will only be allowed in age-restricted shops.