Tough regulations meant to curb vaping among young people have been officially implemented in B.C., the province’s health minister announced Monday.

The regulations include limiting the level of nicotine in vape pods to 20 mg per ml and treating nicotine as a “public health hazard” under the Public Health Act. Flavoured products can now only be sold in age-restricted stores.

Vape products will also now be labelled with health warnings that show the nicotine levels. There will also be restrictions on public advertising of vaping products where youth spend time, including shopping malls, bus stops and parks.

“What we’ve seen is an aggressive campaign over time to promote the use of vaping products among youth,” Health Minister Adrian Dix said.

New retailers selling these products will need to comply with these regulations immediately and shops already in operation will have until Sept. 15.

B.C.’s health and education ministries will also establish a youth advisory council in September to help develop strategies to reduce vaping use among young people. A vaping prevention toolkit created with the B.C. Lung Association has also been distributed to 2,000 schools across the province.

“Students in B.C. that want to make healthy choices have the resources they need to talk to the people around them about vaping,” Education Minister Rob Fleming said.

A provincial social media campaign meant to “denormalize” vaping among young people launched in February had 27 million individual views, he added.

Dix said there’s been an “exponential growth” in vaping and the use of nicotine products by young people and described the measures as a necessary step for public health.

He acknowledged that not everyone agrees with the measures, including those in the convenience and grocery store sectors, but said the regulations are important in preventing nicotine addiction among young people.

“I think this is a practical response to a very urgent public health need,” he said.

On concerns over whether the regulations could create an underground market, Dix said some of that already exists, which is why it’s so important to regulate nicotine levels.

“We have…the most comprehensive plan in Canada to deal with youth vaping,” he said. Dix added that along with tougher regulations, the province has also engaged with young people throughout the process.

Dix said the plan will crack down on youth vaping among but still give adults the option of using it as a tool to help curb smoking.

Cases of severe vaping-related illness have been reported in Alberta and Ontario, and there have been several probable cases in B.C.

Symptoms include cough, shortness of breath, chest pain, fatigue, diarrhea or vomiting, according to the B.C. Centre for Disease Control.

Last fall, Dix announced B.C.’s plan to implement the new regulations, which were originally expected to go into effect in spring 2020. Dix said they delayed implementation because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Dix had also previously announced a tax rate specific to the industry.

The tax on vape products rose from seven to 20 per cent on Jan. 1, making B.C. the first province in Canada to have a specific tax rate for vape products, according to the provincial government.

Read full article here.

Carly Yoshida-Butryn – CTV News – July 20, 2020.

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