Tuesday, 8 October 2019

Where 'leap frog' on vaping laws is needed, Yukon plays a slow game of 'catch up'.

This week Yukon introduced a bill to modernize its controls on vaping products. Bill No. 3, the "Tobacco and Vaping Products Control and Regulation Act" was introduced yesterday.

There are now only 3 provinces or territories - Saskatchewan, Alberta and Nunavut - that have failed to give regulatory acknowledgement to the public health challenges of vaping products.

A lot of has been learned in the four years since the first provincial laws were introduced. The 5 provinces east of Ontario legislated in 2015, as did Manitoba. These provinces deserve praise not only for being quick off the mark, but also for their foresight in imposing similar or the same rules on vaping as they did on tobacco producdts. (A fact sheet which compares provincial vaping regulations can be downloaded here).

For Yukon, however, it has taken some time to get there -- years since other provinces regulated and months since the views of Yukoners were canvassed this spring. (The brief "what we heard" brochure is dated in August, but was only released this week).

Yukon's new law, sadly, follows the most relaxed approach of to vaping reguations. It does not ban billboards or broadcast commercials for vaping products, as the laws in Quebec, Nova Scotia, PEI and Manitoba do. It does not ban the sale of these products on campuses or government buildings. It does not ban vaping in hotel rooms. There are no retail licensing requirements. The retail or manufacturing industry are not required to pay the costs of enforcement and inspection.

Given the recent evidence of new harms from vaping, and the concern about youth use, one might have expected Yukon to 'leap-frog' and propose more stringent measures than are currently in place in other provinces. They have not chosen this approach, but are instead proposing soft-touch regulations.

However, one measure in the Yukon bill stands out as a measure every jurisdiction should put in place. The law gives the government the power to require retailers to keep records and to make reports to government. With such a quickly moving problem as vaping, such information is much needed. (Similar authorities are in Ontario and Quebec laws, but have not yet been put to good use).

Let's hope Yukon's regulations strengthen this otherwise modest legislative proposal.