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A ban on the promotion of vaping products in convenience stores and gas stations comes into effect across Ontario on Wednesday, as the province mulls further changes to keep the items away from young people.
The regulations were announced by the Progressive Conservatives in the fall, in response to research that shows vaping is on the rise among young Ontarians.
The new rules will bring vaping regulations in line with the current ban on in-store tobacco advertisements, but will still allow the products to be promoted in specialty shops open to those 19 and older.
A spokeswoman for Health Minister Christine Elliott said in a statement that the government intends to take further action in 2020, but did not provide additional details.
“Ontario continues to review the research, trends and emerging evidence on the use and health effects of vapour products to inform future policy decisions,” Hayley Chazan said.
“We expect to put forward additional regulations to protect youth in the new year.”
Earlier this month, Elliott said the government was considering a ban on flavoured vapes, as well as examining the nicotine content in the products and where they should be sold.
With the new regulations banning promotion, Ontario joins seven other Canadian provinces which have introduced similar restrictions.
The province was set to ban the promotion of vaping products in convenience stores in 2018 under the previous Liberal government, but the Tories paused those regulations after taking office.
At that time, the Ontario Campaign for Action on Tobacco — which includes the Canadian Cancer Society and the Heart & Stroke Foundation — asked the Ford government to ban display and advertising of vaping products in thousands of convenience stores across Ontario.
The groups said such advertising would lead to increased nicotine addiction among teenagers.
On Monday, the campaign’s director said the latest move by the government is a positive step, but there’s more to be done.
“We’re playing a dangerous game with our kids because while there are many expressions of concern, and some indication of actions from both levels of government, we don’t actually have any substantial changes of any kind in Ontario,” Michael Perley said. “With every week that goes by, there are more young people who are taking up vaping and getting addicted to nicotine.”
Perley urged the government to ban flavoured vaping products, which he said encourage young people to take up the habit. Ontario should also raise the legal age to vape to 21 from 19, he said.
“If we don’t get on with this in the next month or two and have some rules in place, the problem will continue to get worse,” he said.
NDP health critic France Gelinas said the province is behind other jurisdictions when it comes to vaping regulations, and she has introduced a private member’s bill to address the problem. The bill, if passed, would prohibit the promotion of vaping products, regulate flavours, set a maximum amount of nicotine per vape, restrict sales to specialty shops, and require Ontario Health to prepare an annual report on vaping usage and health effects.
“This bill sets up firm obligations on the Ministry of Health to prevent Ontario youth from picking up vaping and becoming addicted to nicotine,” Gelinas said in a statement. “When it comes to protecting young people from e-cigarettes and vaping, Ontario is woefully behind the pack.”