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B.C. teens say new vaping regulations may push them to black market products

The provincial government has introduced the strictest vaping regulations in Canada.

In early November, the province of British Columbia introduced the strictest regulations of the vaping industry in Canada. Coming after high rates of youth vaping as well as the incidence of vaping related lung injuries, the new vaping regulations take effect in the spring of 2020. These regulations institute higher taxes, restrictions on sales and advertising, limits on nicotine content and constraints on packaging. 

Interviews that 8forty conducted with ten teenage users of vape products sheds some light on how the new regulations may affect the youth vaping trend. The students surveyed felt negatively towards the new regulations, although some understood as to why the government put them in place. The students seemed to think they should have free right to vape what they want.

Vape packaging is going to be branded as plain, showing health warnings on them instead of attractive branding, the same as how cigarettes are sold in Canada as of this month.

While some vape products have colourful and attractive branding that might be seen as appealing to kids, the most popular brand among the users 8forty interviewed, Juul, already uses simple and understated design on their packaging.

One of the regulations will remove ads from areas that youth are likely to be around such as bus stops. However, most of the students asked said they rarely saw ads for vaping, although occasionally on bus stops and other odd places. Given the high numbers of students vaping, most students encounter the products in person and hear about them through word of mouth.

Current regulations in the province do not limit the nicotine content in vapes. The highest sold amount in vape juices on the market is 60mg. The popular brand Juul puts 60mg dosage of nicotine into their products to get a “bigger hit” known as a head rush. 

With these new regulations in place, B.C. is cracking down on nicotine content in vapes, bringing the maximum to 20mg, just a third of what users are currently vaping.

40% of students surveyed by surveyed said they vaped 60mL nic out of a Juul, and another 40% said they vaped 50mL nic out of a device that wasn’t a Juul. 

When asked about how these new regulations would affect them, since 8 of the 10 students suggested it would make it a lot harder to get the nicotine content that they are used to vaping and will consider buying it online or through the black market. 

Black market vaping products have been identified by the major cause of the recent epidemic of vaping related lung injuries. 

One of the students said, “I’m sure I’ll be able to find stores that still sell more than 20 nic in their vape juice, it’ll just be a matter of how sketchy they are.”   

 

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