The Ford government is taking action to stop young people from vaping, amid growing health concerns.
On Friday, the province announced that effective Jan. 1 it will be “banning the promotion of vapour products in convenience stores and gas stations.”
Under the new rules, vaping ads will only be allowed in specialty vape and cannabis retail stores where customers must be at least 19 years old to enter.
“Restricting the promotion of vapour products in retail stores will help prevent youth from being exposed and influenced by promotion in retail settings,” Health Minister Christine Elliott said in a release.
The government will make the change by amending a provincial regulation to bring it in line with the current ban on in-store tobacco promotion.
Health Minister Christine Elliott said she made the decision in response to new research that showed vaping is on the rise among youth in the province.
“That’s a big concern to me,” she said. “I know that is a big concern to parents and families and I’m concerned about the potential health effects the increase in vaping has brought forward so we are starting with this prohibition of advertising.”
A year ago, 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 at the time that it would lead to increased nicotine addiction among teenagers, and on Friday the group’s director applauded the move by the government.
“It’s pretty clear the government has looked at the evidence that has been published on youth vaping on how it’s growing in Ontario since they legalized promotion in retail settings,” Michael Perley said. “The evidence says they need to do more to stop messaging to young people … that these products are normal and just like candy and pop that kids go into convenience stores to look for.”
Ontario now joins seven other Canadian provinces which have introduced similar restrictions on vaping promotion.
According to the latest research, vaping has been on the rise among those aged 16 to 19 years old. From 2017 to 2018, there has been a 74 per cent in vaping in that age group.
Back in September, Elliott ordered all public hospitals to report vaping-related cases of severe pulmonary disease. On that same day, health officials in London, Ont., said a teen who was using e-cigarettes daily suffered a severe case of pulmonary illness.
“My responsibility is to ensure the health and safety of our young people and that’s why we’re moving forward now with this ban,” she said.
The Middlesex-London Health Unit said the teen was initially on life support but is now recovering at home after being treated in an intensive care unit.
NDP health critic Frances Gelinas said the Tories should never have paused the previous government’s bill to prohibit the practice.
“We’ve taken one tiny step,” she said. “But there are so many more steps that need to be taken to make sure that we don’t have this entire generation addicted to nicotine.”
Gelinas said the province should push forward with further reforms, including limiting flavours aimed at attracting children to vaping and limiting sales to specialty stores.
Health Canada has said vaping has risks and the long-term effects remain unknown.
The president of the Vaping Industry Trade Association said the voice of that sector has not been heard by the Ford government and called the ban “disappointing.”
Daniel David said the ban will prevent smokers from becoming aware of an option that is less harmful than tobacco.
“We strongly support measures that will restrict youth access, however this must be balanced to ensure that adult smokers still have access to these products,” he said in a statement.