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Canada's Proposal to Ban Flavored Vapes Has Been Revived
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Canada’s Proposal to Ban Flavored Vapes Has Been Revived

The Canadian government appears to be forging ahead with its plan to ban most vape flavors with a proposed amendment to the Tobacco and Vaping Products Act (TVPA). The amendment, first proposed in 2021, is Health Canada’s fresh attempt to curb the rise in youth vaping, largely seen as being driven by the availability of fruit, candy, and dessert-inspired e-liquids. 

The 2021 Flavor Ban Proposal

Health Canada first announced details of the amendment to vape flavor regulations in mid-June 2021, revealing details of its intention to heavily restrict vapers’ choice in the Canada Gazette, an official government publication. The ban was initially expected to come into effect within six months, sometime around the start of 2022. 

The key proposed amendments to the TVPA include: 

  • Restricting flavors in vaping products to tobacco, mint, menthol, and a combination of those flavors. 
  • Prohibiting all sweeteners and sugars and most flavoring ingredients in vaping liquids.
  • Prohibit vaping products from producing a “sensory attribute” that is different than the ones typical for tobacco, mint, or menthol.

Public opinion on the new regulations was split along expected lines: non-vapers were for it, while vapers were (often vocally) against any such ban. The vaping advocacy group Rights 4 Vapers reports that 20,000 opposing letters were sent to the government in 2021. 

Thousands of adult vapers argued that flavors other than tobacco or menthol weren’t just used by teenagers and that the availability of flavored vapes was a major contributor to their continuing abstinence from smoking cigarettes. 

Whether due to public opinion, lack of supporting evidence, or other reasons, the ban subsequently failed to materialize, and after a couple of years even anti-vaping groups began to assume that it had been shelved permanently. 

Ban on Flavored Nicotine Products Revived in 2024

Health Minister, Mark Holland, who previously worked at Heart & Stroke, proposed reviving the amendment in late 2023. In addition to targeting flavored vapes as before, the re-launched proposal is also likely to take aim at nicotine pouches and introduce strict controls over where and how such products can be displayed and marketed. 

Mark Holland has been involved in Canadian politics for two decades. Since becoming Health Minister in 2023, his gaze seems to have been firmly fixed on vaping and other novel nicotine products that are proving popular with teenagers. In a recent interview, the Health Minister stated: 

“I was with Heart & Stroke when we dealt with the issue of vaping, and there were many voices at that time, when information was uncertain, who said, ‘Let this exist as a cessation tool. Don’t take action.’ The result of that, unfortunately, was that the tobacco industry was able to addict a whole new cohort of young people—who had no exposure to nicotine—to something that’s absolutely deadly for their health.” 

While he has acknowledged the usefulness of these safer nicotine products in helping people quit smoking, it appears that he and Health Canada have a very myopic view of who uses flavored vape liquids and how banning the majority of them could badly affect Canada’s tobacco strategy. 

In that same interview, Mark Holland can be seen denouncing the evils of flavors like Ice Berry Blast, seemingly unable to believe that any adult could possibly want such as thing. That’s despite the statistics from Canada and around the world, which show that the vast majority of adult vapers choose fruit or sweet flavors over tobacco or menthol. Indeed, Studies have shown that the use of fruit and other sweet-flavored e-liquids is positively related to adult smokers’ successful transition away from cigarettes.

Another study published in 2023 suggests that flavor bans lead directly to an increase in cigarette sales. The paper identified that for every 0.7 mL pod not sold due to a flavor-restricting policy, 12 extra cigarettes were sold in the legitimate market in its place. It states: “Any public health benefits of reducing ENDS sales via flavor restrictions may be offset by public health costs from increased cigarette sales.”

Provincial Flavors Bans: Are They Working?

Out of Canada’s 13 provincial and territorial governments, Six (Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, and Quebec) have adopted legislation or regulations to ban the sale of any e-cigarette liquid other than tobacco flavor.  

Three Canadian provinces, British Columbia, Ontario, and Saskatchewan, have instead adopted regulations to restrict the sale of flavored vaping liquids to specialty vape shops where children are not permitted to enter, which seems a much more proportional action to take.  

Before moving to implement a federal ban on flavors, you might think it would be useful to study these provinces to see if the localized bans, some of which were in place at the time of the 2021 proposal, were having the desired results rather than just making it harder for adults to quit smoking. 

Sadly, it appears that Mark Holland and Health Canada haven’t looked, or are choosing to ignore the evidence. Thankfully, someone is paying attention. The anti-tobacco advocacy group Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada looked at data from the 2022 Canadian Student Tobacco, Alcohol, and Drugs Survey. 

The survey showed, quite clearly, the percentage of teens choosing fruit or candy-inspired flavors was almost identical in provinces where they were banned to the percentage using them in provinces where they were not. The group concluded that flavor bans did little to prevent youth from using flavored e-cigarettes.

What Can Canadian Vapers Do?

If you are one of the roughly 1.8 million Canadian vapers, and particularly if you enjoy a bit of fruit flavor in your pods, you can let the government know you oppose this amendment. 

Unlike when the U.K. was proposing its ban on disposables, there hasn’t been a formal public consultation process. However, you can join the more than 13,000 people who have already submitted opposition letters to the government through the Rights 4 Vapers website. The site includes all the information you need to compose a letter, and will then send it on your behalf. 

Russ Ware Author Picture 2

Russ Ware

Russ is a UK-based Staff Writer for Versed Vaper who has been in journalism for more than two decades, having previously written for tech publications like Lifewire. He tried vaping in 2015 but the setup that he was using wasn’t quite right and so he didn’t enjoy it at first. However, after going back and forth between vaping and smoking for a couple of years, he started experimenting with different coils, power levels, and mixing his own vape juice. The rest is history and Russ has been a devoted vaper ever since. Russ is a passionate writer and he produces reviews, news, and well-researched informational articles for our site. When Russ is not testing or writing about vapes, he likes to travel, read true crime, and eat anything with lots of chilies.

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