The judgment protects youth from tobacco industry marketing.
MONTREAL, QC –
The Canadian Cancer Society (CCS) welcomes the judgement from the Quebec Court of Appeal which has upheld the constitutionality of Quebec legislation on e-cigarettes in its entirety, including comprehensive restrictions on e-cigarette advertising. CCS was an intervenor in the case to protect the health and wellbeing of youth in Quebec and Canada from tobacco industry marketing tactics.
“This court judgment is an important victory for public health,” says Rob Cunningham, lawyer and Senior Policy Analyst for the Canadian Cancer Society. “Tobacco companies should not have the ability to promote e-cigarettes in a way that exposes youth. The high rates of youth vaping in Quebec and in Canada are tremendously concerning.”
Despite years of progress and momentum to curb tobacco use, a new generation is becoming addicted to nicotine. Youth vaping in Canada has increased dramatically in recent years. Data from the Canadian Student Tobacco, Alcohol and Drugs Survey found that for Quebec students in secondary IV and V vaping increased from 6% in the 2012-13 school year to 22% in the 2018-19 school year, while for high school students Canada-wide in grades 10-12, vaping increased from 9% in the 2014-15 school year to 29% in the 2018-19 school year.
The Court dismissed arguments that the Quebec e-cigarette legislation was an unjustified infringement of freedom of expression and that it infringed on federal responsibility for criminal law. The Court upheld the ban on e-cigarette advertising except in publications with at least 85% adult readership and in specialty vape stores, as well as the ban on product displays and advertising in vape stores from being visible outside the store. A May 3, 2019, judgment of the Quebec Superior Court had invalidated significant portions of Quebec’s e-cigarette advertising restrictions, but this has now been reversed on appeal.
The judgment has implications beyond Quebec. In 2020, the federal government adopted a national regulation to ban e-cigarette advertising in places where youth under age 18 are exposed. The Quebec Court of Appeal provides support for the federal regulation specifically, as well as generally for other federal and provincial legislation on e-cigarettes.
“In order to reduce youth vaping, it is essential that the Quebec government move quickly to adopt additional measures, including a ban on flavours in e-cigarettes and implementation of a tax on e-cigarettes, following the examples in other provinces,” adds Cunningham.
Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable disease and death in Canada, killing almost 48,000 Canadians annually, including about 30% of all cancer deaths. Based on 2020 data, there are still 1.1 million Quebecers who smoke representing 15% of the population aged 12+, and 4.2 million Canadians who smoke, representing a prevalence of 13%. An enormous amount of work needs to be done to reduce youth smoking and vaping and to achieve the Quebec objective of a current smoking prevalence of under 10% by 2025 and the Canadian objective of a prevalence of tobacco use of under 5% by 2035.
About the Canadian Cancer Society
The Canadian Cancer Society works tirelessly to save and improve lives. We fund the brightest minds in cancer research. We provide a compassionate support system for all those affected by cancer, from coast to coast and for all types of cancer. As the voice for Canadians who care about cancer, we work with governments to establish health policies to prevent cancer and better support those living with the disease. No other organization does all that we do to improve lives today and to change the future of cancer forever.
Help us make a difference. Call 1-888-939-3333 or visit cancer.ca today.
For more information, please contact:
David Raynaud, Manager, Advocacy, Canadian Cancer Society