Media Release

New national regulations setting maximum nicotine level for e-cigarettes will reduce youth vaping


New national regulations announced today setting a maximum nicotine concentration of 20 mg/ml for e-cigarettes represent an essential measure to help protect youth from becoming addicted to nicotine. These regulations adopted in final form will take effect July 8, 2021. The Canadian Cancer Society applauds Minister of Health Patty Hajdu for these important regulations.

At least 33 countries, including all 27 European Union countries, as well as British Columbia and Nova Scotia, already have in place a maximum nicotine concentration of 20 mg/ml.  In Canada, some brands of Juul and Vuse e-cigarettes currently sold have nicotine concentrations of 59 or 57 mg/ml, almost triple the standard in the EU and in the new Canadian regulation.

Health Canada today also announced draft restrictions for consultation on e-cigarette flavours, restricting most flavours but allowing an exemption for mint and menthol flavours, in addition to tobacco flavour.  These restrictions on e-cigarette flavours are an important and necessary positive step to protect youth. At the same time, mint and menthol flavours are attractive to youth. During the consultation period, the Canadian Cancer Society will be recommending that the draft regulations on e-cigarette flavours be strengthened to eliminate the mint/menthol exemption.

A growing number of jurisdictions are adopting legislation to restrict the sale of all flavours in e-cigarettes other than tobacco flavour.  These jurisdictions include Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Nunavut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Jersey, New York state, many U.S. municipalities, Finland and the Netherlands.  Quebec has also announced an intention to adopt such a regulation.

High nicotine e-cigarettes and the widespread use of flavours have become a growing concern in Canada as the rates of youth vaping have climbed. In just four years, youth vaping in the country has more than tripled. Data from the Canadian Student Tobacco, Alcohol and Drugs Survey found that for students in grades 10-12, vaping increased from 9% in the 2014-15 school year to 29% in the 2018-19 school year.

“The high rate of youth vaping is of fundamental concern and provides the necessary rationale for new regulations,” says Rob Cunningham, Senior Policy Analyst, Canadian Cancer Society. “High nicotine levels and the widespread use of flavours have contributed to a new generation of young people becoming addicted to nicotine through e-cigarettes.”

A multi-faceted approach is needed to reduce youth vaping. The Canadian Cancer Society has for several years advocated for stronger e-cigarette regulations as a means to protect youth and benefit public health. The measures announced today build on recent federal restrictions of e-cigarette advertising to protect youth from tobacco industry e-cigarette marketing strategies, as well as a new federal tax on e-cigarettes.

Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable disease and death in Canada, killing 45,000 Canadians annually, including about 30% of all cancer deaths. Based on 2019 data, there are still 4.7 million Canadians who smoke, representing 15% of the population aged 12+. An enormous amount of work needs to be done to reduce youth smoking and vaping and to achieve the objective of under 5% of Canadians using tobacco 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.

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For more information, please contact:

Nuala Mckee
Canadian Cancer Society