The B.C. government is introducing new regulations in an effort to curb a growing trend in vaping among youth.
Businesses that sell vape products may be affected if the province passes the new regulations. Last week (Nov. 14), Health Minister Adrian Dix said the new regulations will limit the amount of nicotine, restrict where certain flavours can be sold and introduce a tax rate specific to vaping.
Despite the news, local business owner, Teresa Searls, is not worried about the new regulations majorly affecting her business.
“I’m not surprised by this,” said Searls. “I don’t think it will affect my store.”
Searls and her husband Jack own Triggers and Pins in 100 Mile House. It is a certified piercing shop that carries everything related to vaping and other things as well.
The amount of nicotine in vapour pods and liquid will be restricted to 20mg/ml and will require plain packaging that includes health warnings. Public advertising of vapour products will also be restricted in areas where youth spend time, such as parks or bus stops. The sale of vapour flavours, other than tobacco flavours, will only be allowed in age-restricted shops.
The regulations will come into effect in the spring of 2020 and the 13 per cent tax increase on Jan. 1, 2020.
“Our store is open to anyone, but we have the vaping products in a separate room,” said Searls. “Nobody can go into that room unless they are 19 or older.”
Searles added that nearly 70 per cent of the stores’ sales are driven by vape products.
A study led by professor David Hammond of the University of Waterloo found that among those 16-19 years old, vaping increased by 74 per cent from 2017 to 2018.
“Some vaping manufacturers are using flavours and advertising to entice and normalize vaping for youth – introducing a new generation to very high levels of a very addictive drug,” said Dix. “As a result, youth vaping rates are rising, putting them at risk for addiction and serious illness. That’s why we are bringing in the most comprehensive plan in the country, and supporting young people to end this dangerous trend.”
Searls said reducing the nicotine levels may stop youth from inhaling so much of the drug but it won’t necessarily stop them from doing it.
“The youth can still buy these products online,” said Searls. “Sometimes we will get a parent phoning in and accusing us of selling these products to their children, but we have security cameras. It’s often a person who is older buying the products for them.”
The regulations will also be supported by a youth-led anti-vaping social media campaign to de-normalize vaping.
“When young people are the ones driving change, we know it gives their peers the energy and motivation to be part of the solution,” said Minister of Education Rob Fleming. “That’s why we are supporting our youth with resources and information to help them take on an industry that has targeted them for glamourized addiction.”
The province and the B.C. Lung Association will be working with youth to build a vaping prevention toolkit. The toolkit provides information for educators, parents and youth to use when having discussions and making choices about vaping.
The initiative will expand into schools across the province.