Ottawa ushers in vaping era with new rules, regulations for e-cigarettes

OTTAWA — Adults in Canada will soon have easier access to e-cigarettes and vaping supplies — and be exposed to more ads promoting them — now that the federal Liberal government has passed legislation formally legalizing and regulating the practice.

Once the Tobacco and Vaping Products Act receives royal assent in the coming days, it will prohibit the sale of vape products to minors, ban flavours aimed at young people and prohibit marketing that features testimonials, health claims or “lifestyle” themes.

It also allows the legal manufacture, import and sale of vaping products both with and without nicotine, Health Canada said Wednesday. Other provisions will come into force 180 days after the bill becomes law to give manufacturers and importers time to comply.

Manufacturers that want to market their products with therapeutic claims, such as for smoking cessation, will still require the agency’s blessing before their products can be imported, advertised or sold in Canada.

Some experts cheered the vaping regulations, saying they give legitimacy to something that could prove a boon for smokers who are trying to quit. Others fear the restrictions could keep those very same people from exploring its potential as a less-harmful alternative to cigarettes.

Where they agree, however, is that Canada continues to lack sufficient research into vaping.

The law treats vaping like smoking, with similar regulations, said David Sweanor, an adjunct professor at the University of Ottawa’s Centre for Health Law, Policy and Ethics.

It prevents companies that make so-called “non-combustion” products from informing smokers about significantly less hazardous options, Sweanor said, and fails to adequately distinguish between the relative risks of cigarettes, and e-cigarettes and other alternatives.

Canadian Medical Association president Dr. Laurent Marcoux welcomed the legislation for its restrictions on promoting and advertising vape products, but warned its still too soon to embrace it as a potential stop-smoking aid.

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