Canada Vape Flavor Ban Resurrected After Three-Year Hiatus

Canada vape flavor ban resurrected

After a three-year dormancy, the Canadian government has resurrected its plan to ban most vape flavors and impose stringent regulations on the manufacturing of e-liquids. The new rules, initially approved almost three years ago, will drastically limit the available flavoring ingredients and restrict manufacturers to producing only tobacco, mint, and menthol flavors.

Rigorous Regulations on Vape Flavors

Unlike most flavor bans that target specific descriptors or “characterizing flavors,” Health Canada’s proposed rule will provide vape manufacturers with a list of fewer than 100 approved flavoring ingredients. E-liquid producers will be required to reformulate their products using only these permitted ingredients, and sweeteners of any kind will be prohibited. According to a 2021 statement from the regulatory agency, an estimated 80-85 percent of existing products in the allowed flavor categories will need to be reformulated to comply with the new standards.

Provinces Taking Action

Several Canadian provinces and territories have already implemented their own flavor bans:

  • Quebec began enforcing its flavor prohibition in October 2022 (source)
  • New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, the Northwest Territories, and Prince Edward Island have similar laws in place (source)
  • Nunavut has passed a ban but has not yet set a date for implementation (source)

Despite these restrictions, over 70 percent of Canada’s population currently has access to flavored vapes. The proposed Health Canada rule aims to eliminate the most popular flavors nationwide.

The Resurgence of the Flavor Ban

The flavor ban, set to be implemented in January 2022, seemingly disappeared from Health Canada’s agenda without explanation. However, with the appointment of Mark Holland as the new Health Minister, the ban has been revived. Holland, a former employee of Heart & Stroke, has demonstrated a strong anti-tobacco stance and appears to be pushing the flavor ban as a personal legacy project.

In a recent press conference, Holland 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. It has had very injurious outcomes for our health system.” (source)

Concerns and Potential Consequences

Vaping industry representatives and consumer advocates argue that the proposed flavor rule will have a detrimental impact on legal vaping choices and cause irreparable harm to the independent vaping industry. With approximately 1.8 million vapers in Canada, the majority of whom prefer flavors other than those Health Canada intends to allow, the ban may drive many back to smoking and create a thriving black market for disposable vapes.

As Concordia University economics professor Ian Irvine writes in the Financial Post, “Make no mistake: Canadians will make every effort to evade a flavour ban, whether through legal or illegal means. Legal businesses will be destroyed, as we have seen in Nova Scotia and Quebec. The illegal sector will thrive, and Health Canada will have made Canadians less healthy by reducing the flow of cigarette-quitters.”

Call to Action for Canadian Vapers

Canadian vapers and their supporters are encouraged to voice their opposition to the government’s proposed flavor restrictions. Advocacy group Rights4Vapers has provided a platform for consumers to construct letters opposing the rules, which will be sent to their Members of Parliament, Health Canada, Health Minister Holland, and Associate Health Minister Ya’ara Saks. To date, nearly 12,000 vaping consumers have utilized the Rights4Vapers website to express their concerns.

As the debate surrounding vape flavors continues, it remains to be seen how the Canadian government will balance public health concerns with the potential unintended consequences of a strict flavor ban. The vaping community eagerly awaits further developments and hopes that their voices will be heard in the decision-making process.

Sophia Bennett