Until only a few years back, Canada was on the right trajectory in terms of tobacco harm reduction, and had fully endorsed the use of vaping products as smoking cessation/reducing tools. Sadly, this all changed when a paper published on BMJ, concluded that in Canada there was an increase in youth vaping and subsequent smoking.
Clive Bates, a public health consultant and the former director of Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) had at the time pointed out that the BMJ paper’s figures were wrong, and sure enough, almost a year later, the journal issued a correction. Sadly however, the damage had already been done, and the study’s figures had already raised considerable alarm which led to policy changes.
In December 2020, Health Canada proposed to establish a nicotine limit of 20 milligrams per milliliter (mg/ml) for all vaping products. In line with the BMJ study, Health Canada “identified the availability of high-nicotine concentration vaping products in the Canadian market since 2018 as one of the key factors that has contributed to the rise in youth vaping.”
The cap will extend to all retailers as of the 23rd of July
Federal health minister Patty Hajdu was quoted by ECigIntelligence as saying that the nicotine cap was part of the government’s efforts to stop youth vaping. “We’re taking this action because we know that nicotine has particular impacts on young people’s brain development, memory and concentration.”
How effective is a nicotine cap?
However, data from Europe has indicated that after a nicotine cap was set in place by the EU Tobacco Products Directive (TPD), some seasoned smokers who had switched to vaping, were struggling with the low dose. To this effect, many former smokers reverted back to smoking, or resorted to purchasing their preferred products on the black market.