Quebec anti-vaping law watered down by judge
New anti-vaping laws in Quebec have been strongly criticised by harm reduction advocates. Now a judge has at least partly agreed with that criticism, striking down one of the most controversial provisions of the legislation.
As the state’s new Tobacco Control Act was originally enacted, it became illegal to advertise e-cigarettes. As if that wasn’t bad enough the law also forbade vape shops – and even smoking cessation clinics who distribute vapour products – from showing customers how the products worked.
Following an appeal, Quebec Superior Court Justice Daniel Dumais ruled last Friday that while the state has the right to regulate vapour products, the bans on advertising and demonstrations go too far. The court has now given the state government six months to revise the law and remove the offending sections.
While Quebec vapers are relieved at the decision, it’s too soon to relax. It’s likely that the Quebec Coalition for Tobacco Control, an anti-harm reduction lobby group, will push the state government to appeal.
New Mexico pushes on with vape ban, new taxes
The assault on US vapers continued last week, as New Mexico geared up preparations for tightened restrictions on harm reduction products. As well as sweeping new bans on where e-cigs can be used there’s a punitive new tax on its way, in a double blow that will make it much harder for New Mexicans to quit smoking.
As of 14 June it will be illegal to vape in New Mexico anywhere that smoking is already banned. That includes most indoor workplaces, as well as venues like cinemas and restaurants. In July a 12.5% tax will be added to the price of e-liquids.
The situation isn’t quite as bad as it could be, though. The American Cancer Society had been pushing for a 76% tax – more than three times what’s levied on actual tobacco products. There were also attempts to push a flavour ban and an over-21 age restriction through the state legislature, which fortunately have been defeated for now.
EU fights attempts to introduce more effective e-cigs
A new conflict is brewing between the European Union and e-cigarette companies, including JUUL Labs, over the EU’s controversial limit on nicotine concentrations. Manufacturers say the new generation of high-nicotine pod systems are a much more effective alternative for most smokers, and they have hard science to back up their claims. The EU, though, is sticking by its 20mg/ml limit – which was criticised by the scientists whose work was cited in support of its introduction.
In the USA, pod systems using nicotine salt liquids often have nicotine concentrations of up to 59mg/ml. This means a small, low-powered device can be a very effective smoking substitute, while reducing power consumption and the amount of liquid that has to be inhaled. If there is any danger in vaping the most likely source is the flavourings, and high-strength liquids reduce exposure to these. However, EU regulators are opposing any change in the law.
Massachusetts schools waste resources on anti-vaping campaigns
Publicly funded schools the world over seem to be permanently short of money, staff and resources – but that’s not stopping Massachusetts school boards from wasting all three trying to combat the so-called “teen vaping epidemic”. While statistics continue to show that most US teens who try an e-cig don’t go on to become regular vapers, and almost all those who do were already smokers, a moral panic is sweeping the nation.
Some Massachusetts schools have taken up the trend of removing toilet doors in case someone is vaping in there. Others have spent thousands of dollars on expensive vapour detectors. Anti-vaping lessons are being added to timetables. None of them seem to be checking the facts before they join the hysteria.
China writes new e-cig regulations – but adoption date isn’t clear
China, which is both the world’s largest tobacco consumer and its main producer of vapour products, had filed a new set of regulatory standards with the World Trade Organization. However, the country hasn’t given any indication of when these rules will be adopted.
Most e-cigarettes, and a large quantity of liquid, are manufactured in China. The bulk of these products are exported, as China itself has imposed harsh restrictions on vaping to protect the state’s monopoly on tobacco sales. So far the communist regime hasn’t done anything to restrict exports, though – it’s a valuable source of earnings. That means it’s unlikely the new regulations will make too much difference to what’s available from Chinese companies.