Health Canada proposes new rules around vaping ads

The rules would heavily restrict where ads could appear in an effort to curb use among teens and youth.

Health Canada has released a proposal to further restrict advertising for vaping and e-cigarette products, in a broader effort to reduce their appeal to Canada’s youth.

The proposed regulations, which are not final, would heavily restrict advertising vaping-related products where they might be seen by youth. That includes ads at both physical and online points of sale where youth are allowed to shop, as well as mass platforms like billboards and public transit. They also wouldn’t be allowed to air within 30 minutes of any television or radio show meant for youth, nor published in any print publications and social media platforms accessible to youth.

Under the proposed rules, any ads for vaping products that do fall within these parameters would also have to include health warnings, regardless of whether the product includes nicotine. Another measure under consideration is to restrict the visual content of advertisements to only text and illustrations, or images of the vaping product or its package.

The release of the proposed regulations also came with the launch of a new PSA campaign from Health Canada, which will run through 2019 and outlines the risks of vaping.

The Notice of Intent initiates a 45-day consultation period during which Health Canada will receive comments from the public and stakeholders that will be considered as it drafts new proposed regulations, which would strength existing rules under the Tobacco and Vaping Products Act. The department says it also intends to release another consultation document in March to address broader trends of youth vaping, examining how things such as flavours, nicotine concentration and product design might make the products more appealing to both youth and non-smokers.

According to the most recent edition of Health Canada’s Canadian Student Tobacco, Alcohol and Drugs Survey (conducted through 2016 and 2017), 10% of students in grades seven to 12 reported having used an e-cigarette in the past 30 days, an increase from 6% in 2014-15.

Health Canada’s regulations also come as U.S.-based company Juul – currently the market leader in e-cigarettes and vaping – continues to face scrutiny for ads many believe make the product more appealing to young people, all while it saw sales increase 300% in 2018, up to an estimated $1 billion USD.