Ontario Protecting Children and Youth from Vaping
In response to increases in rates of vaping among youth, Ontario is taking further action to protect children and youth from the health risks of vaping.
The next phase of Ontario's comprehensive approach to protect youth from vaping would address parental, public and health stakeholder concerns about youth access to vapour products. It includes seven key actions designed to reduce the prevalence of youth vaping.
The proposed actions include:
- Increasing access to services to help people quit vaping through Telehealth Ontario. Telehealth Ontario will offer one number to call for counselling and referrals to community cessation services to help Ontarians of all ages easily access services to help quit vaping.
- Restricting the retail sale of flavoured vapour products to specialty vape stores and cannabis retail stores. If approved, as of May 1, 2020, the retail sale of flavoured vapour products would only be available in specialty vape stores and cannabis retail stores, which are restricted to people aged 19 and over, with the exception of menthol, mint and tobacco flavours. Unflavoured vapour products and menthol, mint and tobacco flavoured vapour products would continue to be available at non-specialty stores such as convenience stores and gas stations. Cannabis retail stores would only sell cannabis vapour products.
In Ontario, specialty vape stores are required to register with their local board of health. Local boards of health are responsible for enforcing the Smoke-Free Ontario Act, 2017 and monitoring specialty vape store compliance with the act.
- Restricting the retail sale of high nicotine vapour products (more than 20mg/ml) to specialty vape stores. Nicotine is highly addictive, especially for young people, and can cause adverse health effects. If approved, as of July 1, 2020, the sale of high nicotine vapour products (more than 20mg/ml) would only be available in specialty vape stores, which are restricted to people aged 19 and over. This timeline aligns with the federal requirement for labelling of nicotine on products. Vapour products with lower nicotine concentrations (under 20mg/ml) would continue to be available in all other allowable retail settings, such as convenience stores and gas stations.
- Working with major online retailers of vapour products and stakeholders to ensure compliance with age-based sales restrictions for online sales. Under the Smoke-Free Ontario Act, 2017, it is illegal to sell or supply persons under the age of 19 years with vapour products, which also applies to online sales and deliveries. Ontario would work collaboratively with major courier companies and the vapour product industry to help ensure that products are only delivered to people aged 19 and over.
- Requiring specialty vape stores to ensure that vapour product displays and promotions are not visible from outside their stores. Restricting the visibility of vaping products and promotions protects the public and vulnerable groups like children and youth from being exposed to these products. If approved, as of May 1, 2020, specialty vape stores would need to ensure that vapour product displays and promotions are not visible from outside their stores.
- Enhancing mental health and addiction services and resources to include vaping and nicotine addiction. Many vapour products contain nicotine, which can cause addiction and physical dependence. Addiction to nicotine in youth can lead to prolonged use of cigarettes or vaping and has associated negative health impacts. Ontario will provide frontline providers such as schools, universities, colleges and health care providers with tools and resources to better support Ontario's youth struggling with vaping and nicotine addiction. This is part of the cross-government approach to build a better mental health and addictions system.
- Establishing a Youth Advisory Committee to provide advice on vaping. If approved, the Youth Advisory Committee would provide advice on current and future vaping initiatives. A youth-informed approach will help ensure programs and policies are effective and impactful for youth. Ontario would include representation from existing youth networks such as Ontario Lung Association, Canadian Cancer Society and public health units.
Ontario is also calling on the federal government to implement a national tax on vaping products. A national vaping tax would minimize regulatory burden and ensure a consistent tax treatment across the country.
Recently Ontario strengthened vaping laws under the Smoke-Free Ontario Act, 2017 by banning the promotion of vapour products in non-specialty retail stores such as convenience stores and gas stations. As of January 1, 2020, the promotion of vapour products in retail establishments is only allowed in specialty vape stores and cannabis retail stores, which are restricted to people aged 19 and over.
To better understand the emergence of vaping-related severe lung disease, a Minister's Order was issued in September 2019, requiring public hospitals in Ontario to report statistical, non-identifying information related to incidences of vaping-related severe pulmonary disease.
The potential long-term effects of vaping, including potential physical and mental health effects on youth, remain uncertain. Ontario will continue to monitor the current situation to identify solutions to protect the public from the potential dangers of vaping. The government will continue to work collaboratively with experts, parents, youth and stakeholders to build healthier and safer communities for our children and youth.
"We are pleased to hear that candy- and dessert-flavoured vaping products will be removed from retail environments where they are sold alongside actual candy, soft drinks and other kid-friendly treats. While it is the flavours that entice kids, the nicotine is what hooks them. We are encouraged to see the Government of Ontario address both issues with these new regulations." - Avril Goffredo, Executive Vice President, Ontario and Nunavut, Heart & Stroke
"We are very pleased at the steps the Government of Ontario is taking to protect the lungs of our youth from the harms of vaping. As we have seen, rates continue to rise and respiratory illness continues to take a toll on our future generation. Putting measures in place that will restrict access to vapour products is critical to safeguarding the lung health of our youth and ensuring they don't suffer the debilitating effects of lung disease." - Peter Glazier, Vice President, Marketing, Development and Public Affairs, Lung Health Foundation
"I applaud Minister Elliott's continuing determination to protect Ontario's kids from flavoured nicotine-based vaping products. Her recent retail vaping promotion ban, and now today's restrictions on high-nicotine and nearly all flavoured vaping products, both show the Minister clearly has the protection of Ontario kids' health at heart." - Michael Perley, Director, Ontario Campaign for Action on Tobacco
"I applaud today's announcement by Health Minister Christine Elliott that will ban most flavoured vaping products and limit the levels of nicotine contained in products sold in gas stations and convenience stores. This is an important continuation of the work the government has been engaged in to address the critical issue of vaping in youth." - Dr. Sohail Gandhi, President, Ontario Medical Association
"We support the new Ontario measures to restrict youth access to e-cigarettes with flavours and high nicotine levels, among other initiatives. The Canadian Cancer Society will continue to work with the government to build on this announcement and ensure that we don't see a new generation of young people addicted to nicotine through e-cigarettes." - Helena Sonea, Senior Manager of Public Issues, Canadian Cancer Society
"Ontario's Registered Practical Nurses commend the government for taking steps to curb vaping among youth. With the long term health impacts of vaping still unclear, we are pleased to see the government taking a proactive approach to safeguard the health of Ontario youth, while at the same time preserving access for those adult Ontarians who have benefited from vaping as a smoking cessation tool." - Dianne Martin, CEO, Registered Practical Nurses Association of Ontario (WeRPN)
"Ontario's pharmacy professionals applaud the bold yet necessary stance on child and youth vaping taken today by Deputy Premier Christine Elliott and the Ontario government. It's the lives of our children and youth that are at stake - they have been exposed for far too long to targeted marketing campaigns and misinformation on the dangers of vaping and nicotine. As a mother myself, I am comforted in the knowledge that this government is taking steps to protect the health of my child and that of all Ontario children and youth. Limiting access to flavoured and high nicotine vaping products, increasing supports for those who want to quit vaping and bringing youth to the discussion table with the establishment of a Youth Advisory Committee, amongst the other initiatives being proposed, demonstrate the seriousness by which this government sees the issues of vaping. OPA was honoured to be part of the Minister's Roundtable on Youth Vaping in the fall of 2019 and offers its continued support in helping the government to build healthier and safer communities now and into the future." - Jen Baker, Chair of the Ontario Pharmacists Association (OPA)