PRESS RELEASE. July 26, 2022
Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada (PSC) is concerned that Health Canada’s recently circulated draft regulations to require vaping product manufacturers to provide the department with information on its products and activities reflect a departmental priority for the concerns of business over the public health benefit of better information on what consumers of these products are inhaling.
A comparison of the draft regulations, published in the Canada Gazette in June with the measures on which the department consulted in 2017 (shown below) identifies the extent to which the government has reduced the information that the vaping industry will be required to report over the 5 year period in which these regulations have been in development. The reason given by Health Canada for narrowing the scope of regulations from its original plan was concern for the “administrative burden” to manufacturers.
“Both the delay and the foreshortening of these regulations are disturbing,” said Cynthia Callard, executive director of Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada, “especially given that the legalization of these products in 2018 has triggered an explosion in youth use and dramatic changes in the range of products that are on the market.”
PSC notes that the information required of manufacturers of vaping products is a fraction of what manufacturers are required to report on tobacco products. For over two decades, Canada has required tobacco companies to provide regular reports on the ingredients, emissions, designs and sales of their products, as well as their scientific and consumer research and their advertising activities. Yet for vaping products, the department is now proposing that only one-time notification of ingredients and quarterly reports on sales will be required. If companies change the ingredients in their brands, they will not be required to update their reports or other wise inform the government. In addition, the department abandoned its intention to require manufacturers to maintain certain records.
In its response to the draft regulations, PSC raises concerns that failing to collect information on emission and toxicity or changes in ingredients will mean that consumers, health researchers and policy makers will not have the information they need to make informed decisions about the individual and public health risks of using e-cigarettes. Because these devices and liquids vary enormously from one manufacturer or brand to another, individual product testing and reports are needed.
Other governments have put in place much more stringent reporting requirements than Canada is proposing. The European Union, the United Kingdom and China, for example, require reporting on emissions and toxicity. The United States requires detailed information on product design and modifications, as well as data on consumer profile, marketing practices and youth access. PSC notes that if the regulations are adopted as now proposed, Canada will have the most lax reporting requirements of all the major vaping markets – even though many vaping products sold in Canada by companies which are required to provide data to other governments.
“A harm reduction approach requires careful monitoring and sustained surveillance. Health Canada failure to obtain data make it more difficult to assess whether the shift in policy made in 2018 is reducing or increasing population harm.”
PSC recommends that, at a minimum, manufacturers be required to maintain records of their research and marketing activities. “Companies that once destroyed their scientific research on tobacco in order to prevent courts and governments from gaining access to this knowledge are now being given a green light by the Canadian government to do the same with their research on vaping products.”
PSC’s comments on the proposed regulations can be accessed here. The government is receiving comments on its proposals until August 2, 2022.
Comparison of the draft regulation with Health Canada’s August 2017 proposal.
Information required of vaping product manufacturers
|As proposed in August 2017||
As proposed in draft regulation
|Details about each vaping device or liquid, including the product name, model number and nicotine concentration||Upon introduction of each product, and annually thereafter||One-time report per brand.|
|Details about the design of each vaping device, including engineering drawings and information about the materials and components used||Upon introduction of each product, and annually thereafter||Not required|
|Contents of vaping liquids, including quantities of each ingredient||Upon introduction of each product, and annually thereafter||One-time report per brand.|
|Information on research and development activities||Annually||Not required|
|Information on promotional activities||Annually||Not required|
|Sales data for each product||Quarterly||Quarterly|