In July 2021, the department of Health Canada put out publications regarding new nicotine restrictions in the Canada Gazette Part I and Part II to regulate the sales of vaping products in the country. These new regulations focused on flavour restrictions and lowering nicotine concentration, blaming advertising and ingredients for the growing number of young people in Canada who vape.

But what do these new regulations mean for consumers in Canada? We'll explain everything you need to know about Canada's new nicotine restrictions below.  

Flavour Restrictions for Vaping Products

The vaping regulations in Canada come after Health Canada analyzed hundreds of vaping liquids. This research was meant to understand their chemical compounds and how the use of flavouring chemicals makes them so appealing to young people. This was prompted by surveys showing that a flavour profile was included in the younger generation's top five reasons to vape.

The data collected about liquid vaping flavours and their advertising have pushed Health Canada to create strict bans on the sales of these products. 

The measures proposed were intended to:

  • Restrict the marketing and selling of flavours to tobacco, mint, and menthol or a combination of the flavours.
  • Limit images and illustrations for advertising to only indicate these three approved flavours and combinations.
  • Prohibit the inclusion of all sugars and sweeteners and most of the ingredients used for flavouring unless they are used to impart the flavouring of the three approved varieties and combinations.
  • Change the sensory experience to impart any perception of the vape not being a tobacco product or mint/menthol.

Health Canada claims the presence of flavours other than tobacco, including sugars and sweeteners used in vaping products, increases the appeal of the products and therefore decreases the perception of potentially harmful effects.

These nicotine restrictions target teens and young adults who consider these products less harmful than tobacco-flavoured vaping products because of their association with fruit and candy. 

The flavour restrictions will also affect individuals who are currently smoking and vape to transition away from smoking cigarettes. Because of this, Health Canada acknowledges the importance of keeping some of these alternative options.

These measures were passed to keep some flavour options available for adults who smoke cigarettes and want to transition or have already transitioned to vaping because it contains a less harmful amount of nicotine than cigarettes. 

Regulations on Nicotine Concentration in Vaping Products

Health Canada's Nicotine Concentration in Vaping Products Regulations (NCVPR) also bring about several new nicotine restrictions that target vaping retailers throughout the entire country. 

Young adults who were surveyed claimed they felt a “buzz” from nicotine levels that were around 50mg/mL. So, these regulations lowered the nicotine concentration to 20 mg/mL for any vaping product marketed and sold in Canada. They also forbid the sale of products and packaging that states the nicotine concentration is above 20 mg/mL. 

In addition to the NCVPR, Health Canada added an amendment to the Vaping Products Labelling and Packaging Regulations. Before this amendment, vaping products could contain up to 66 mg/mL of nicotine. This amendment excludes vaping products authorized under the FDA, and nicotine restrictions only apply to exported products.

This regulation has been in effect for retailers since July 23, 2021. The other restrictions were put into effect shortly after to complete the beginning of Canada's initiative to tackle what they see as a youth vaping problem in the country. 

Restrictions on Flavours in Cannabis Extracts for Inhalation

Vaping cannabis has been popular for individuals between 18-24 years old. Health Canada blames the availability of flavours in cannabis products for enticing a more significant number of the youth population to use these products. 

Because of this trend, several flavour restrictions are being placed on cannabis extracts to cut back on the number of young adults who use these products. 

Health Canada proposed these changes to the Cannabis Regulations to regulate and limit flavour usage in inhaled cannabis produåcts to prevent their appeal to teenagers and young adults. 

The amendments affect three areas including:

  • Restrictions on the inclusion of flavours in inhaled cannabis extraction products other than the natural flavours of cannabis.
  • Rules for the use of flavouring agents in the production of inhaled cannabis extract.
  • Restrictions on the promotion or labelling of inhaled cannabis extract using flavour other than the flavour of the extract.

What Does This Mean? 

The nicotine restrictions banning almost all vaping flavours aside from tobacco and mint/menthol will impact more than just the targeted demographic of Canadian youth. Adults who vape to limit their reliance on cigarettes will most likely return to an increased dependency on cigarettes because of limited vaping options. 

Health Canada acknowledges the importance of this demographic but does not offer other alternatives for people transitioning from nicotine or cannabis products to sobriety. This has potentially more dangerous long-term effects on those adults who will return to heavy nicotine usage or consider using other substances with similar results. 

While the bans are an effort to help Canadian youth quit smoking, it is impossible to ensure this outcome will be possible. Like adults, teenagers will turn to cigarettes to achieve the same physical and emotional stimulation felt when vaping, reversing low national levels of teen cigarette usage. 

Retailers who follow the new regulations must stop selling flavoured products, but that does not guarantee that teenagers will not find creative ways around the ban. There will also continue to be retailers who do not adhere to the laws.

The Bottom Line

These measures that passed last year are part of a bigger initiative to stop young people from using vaping products without understanding the short and long-term effects the ingredients have on their health. However, these regulations also affect adults who vape and use inhaled cannabis extracts, ultimately leading to a bigger problem for people who may turn to more dangerous alternatives.

Canada Health's bans and regulations can limit vaping usage, but it is nearly impossible to completely enforce these policies without loopholes being created and affecting the levels of alternative substance usage. Over time, statistics for vaping and cigarette usage will inverse, and officials will most likely be met with backlash for these decisions. 

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