New national draft regulations announced today setting a maximum nicotine concentration of 20 mg/ml for e-cigarettes is an essential measure to help protect youth from becoming addicted to nicotine. The Canadian Cancer Society congratulates Minister of Health Patty Hajdu for bringing these important regulations forward.
At least 33 countries, including all 27 European Union countries, as well as British Columbia and Nova Scotia, already have in place a maximum nicotine concentration of 20 mg/ml. In Canada, some brands of Juul and Vuse e-cigarettes currently sold have nicotine concentrations of 59 or 57 mg/ml, almost triple the standard in the EU and in the new Canadian regulation.
These high nicotine e-cigarettes have become a growing concern in Canada as the rates of youth vaping have climbed. In just four years, youth vaping in the country has more than tripled. Data from the Canadian Student Tobacco, Alcohol and Drugs Survey found that for students in grades 10-12, vaping increased from 9% in the 2014-15 school year to 29% in the 2018-19 school year.
“The high rate of youth vaping is of fundamental concern and provides the necessary rationale for the new regulations,” says Rob Cunningham, Senior Policy Analyst, Canadian Cancer Society. “High nicotine levels have contributed to a new generation of young people becoming addicted to nicotine through e-cigarettes.”
The Canadian Cancer Society has for several years advocated for stronger e-cigarette regulations as a means to protect youth and benefit public health. The regulations announced today build on recent federal restrictions of e-cigarette advertising to protect youth from tobacco industry e-cigarette marketing strategies. The sooner the new regulations with maximum nicotine concentration come into effect, the sooner youth will be protected.
“A multi-faceted approach is needed to reduce youth vaping,” adds Cunningham. “We applaud these regulations and support the federal government moving as soon as possible to implement these regulations and to adopt other measures, including a comprehensive ban on flavours and a tax on e-cigarettes.”
The new federal regulations come after similar provincial regulations introduced in British Columbia and Nova Scotia, which both set a maximum nicotine concentration of 20 mg/ml effective September 15, 2020 and September 1, 2020, respectively. On Dec. 10, 2020, Quebec announced an intention to adopt such a regulation.
The Canadian regulation would apply to e-liquids and to cartridges and pods when sold separately, as well as to e-cigarettes that contain liquid directly. The regulations are subject to a consultation period.
Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable disease and death in Canada, killing 45,000 Canadians annually, including about 30% of all cancer deaths. Based on 2019 data, there are still 4.7 million Canadians who smoke, representing 15% of the population aged 12+. An enormous amount of work needs to be done to reduce youth smoking and vaping and to achieve the objective of under 5% of Canadians using tobacco by 2035.
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Senior Policy Analyst
Canadian Cancer Society