During question period, the NDP’s health critic, France Gélinas, confronted the province's health minister about the government’s change to the rules around advertising and promotion of nicotine-containing vape products.
The Ontario Campaign for Action on Tobacco — which includes the Canadian Cancer Society and the Heart & Stroke Foundation — said proposed changes to the Smoke Free Ontario Act announced last week will allow the advertising of such products.
Ontario was set to ban the promotion of vaping products in convenience stores under the previous Liberal regime but the new Progressive Conservative government paused regulations that were to come into effect on July 1.
A spokeswoman for the Minister of Health said that while the new regulation acknowledges that smoking and vaping products are different, the government will not allow potentially harmful products to be accessible to youth.
“One of the first acts of this government was to cancel regulations that would have stopped vaping companies from promoting their products to children,” said Gélinas.
“Then last week, the Ford government tabled a bill and new regulation that allows vaping products and e-cigarettes to be promoted and marketed to children in convenience stores.
“On Tuesday, a coalition of health organizations, including the Canadian Cancer Society and the Ontario Heart and Stroke Foundation, called on the government to put the health of children first and withdraw this regulation.
“Will the minister listen to these health professionals, and make sure that vaping companies cannot promote and market their harmful products to kids?”
According to Dr. Robert Schwartz, Director of the Ontario Tobacco Research Unit at the University of Toronto, vaping by non-smoking youth in Ontario is already very substantial, and increased 46 per cent among students in Grades 10 to 12 over just two years, the press release said.
On Oct. 2, the United States Food and Drug Administration announced it conducted a surprise inspection of the headquarters of e-cigarette producer Juul Labs as part of an investigation into marketing the harmful products to children.
Juul Labs met the Ford government right after the election – it’s not known what was discussed in their closed-door meetings.
“Many of the vaping companies are owned by Big Tobacco companies, which are desperate to hook the next generation on their addictive products,” said Gélinas. “They want to get kids addicted, to make them customers for life.
“Will the minister withdraw this harmful regulation, and make sure that kids are not exposed to vaping marketing, promotion and displays?”
-With files from Canadian Press