An opposition bill that would ban flavoured vape liquids has passed second reading in the New Brunswick Legislature.
Bill 17 was introduced last fall and received unanimous support after a debate Thursday.
A flavour ban will "have a huge impact on the alarming rates of youth vaping in the province," said Liberal health critic Jean-Claude D'Amours, who introduced the bill.
About one in seven Canadians aged 15 to 24 who were surveyed last fall reported vaping, according to Statistics Canada.
"They are inhaling a vapour that tastes like strawberries or doughnuts without truly realizing that they are consuming significant amounts of nicotine," D'Amours said.
It's rare for an opposition bill to get this far.
D'Amours said he was "proud" of his MLA colleagues for supporting it.
Not law yet
Before the bill is enacted, it still has to be considered by the standing committee on economic policy, where MLAs can pose questions of the minister, debate it and vote.
If it passes at that stage it goes back to the legislature for final approval.
Health Minister Dorothy Shephard said Friday that the Progressive Conservatives plan to support the bill through to passage with some minor technical amendments when it's at committee next week.
She said other measures could also be brought forward later, such as raising the minimum age and imposing higher taxes.
"We're picking away at it in a methodical way so that we can get what we need done," said Shephard.
Bill 17 is one of two proposed amendments to the Tobacco and Electronic Cigarette Sales Act currently under consideration.
Bill 55 was given first reading by the health minister last week to require vape shops to be licensed and use the funds for education campaigns against substance use and is being debated on Friday for second reading.
D'Amours says the Canadian Cancer Society supports his bill. The New Brunswick Lung Association has also come out in favour of a flavour ban.
Industry balks at ban
But industry groups are against it.
The Vaping Industry Trade Association says a flavour ban would cause 200 jobs to be lost in the province and the closure of "dozens of small family-owned businesses."
Executive Director Allan Rewak said it would "have little to no impact on youth vaping rates, as minors are in most cases accessing vaping products through illicit websites and social sourcing."
He said the ban would adversely affect adults who are trying to quit smoking and drive more of them back to tobacco.
"We believe the government has to take an aggressive and targeted approach against youth vaping, not create new barriers for adult smokers who are trying hard to reduce risk", said Rewak.
Health Canada says the long-term health effects of vaping are unknown and still being studied, but there is enough evidence to justify efforts to prevent young people and non-smokers from doing it.
It says vaping poses a number of health risks including nicotine dependence, which can affect memory and concentration, is known to alter teen brain development and may reduce impulse control and cause cognitive and behavioural problems.
Health Canada also says vaping liquid is poisonous if swallowed or absorbed through the skin. And using vaping products with higher power and temperature settings can produce more chemicals linked to negative health effects.