Sask. to ban vaping near schools and restrict advertising, but allow flavours

The Saskatchewan government is introducing new rules that treat vaping like smoking in hopes of preventing kids from using electronic cigarettes.

Saskatchewan and Alberta are the only provinces with no regulations on vaping.

On Tuesday, the province announced amendments to the Tobacco Control Act. If passed they will come into effect next spring.

The changes include:

  • Restricting purchase of vaping or e-cigarette products to people 18 and older.
  • Ban the display of vaping or e-cigarette products in stores where youth are allowed.
  • Restricting advertising of vaping products.
  • Banning vaping around schools and other public buildings.
  • Prohibiting the sale of vaping products in facilities that youth frequent.

"The Government of Saskatchewan takes the health of our citizens very seriously and this legislation is an important step in protecting Saskatchewan youth in particular from the harms of vaping products," Health Minister Jim Reiter said in a news release. 

"If you don't smoke there is no need to vape."

The Saskatchewan Lung Association applauded the government for the changes.

"By reducing access to vape products and eliminating advertising the residents of Saskatchewan can breathe easier knowing that the government is taking this issue seriously," said Jennifer May of the Lung Association.

The province is not banning flavoured vape products at this time. It previously announced a mechanism to ban flavoured tobacco but it was never proclaimed.

Adnan Abidi/Reuters

The Canadian Cancer Society had advocated for the province to make 21 the legal age to purchase vape products, move flavoured products to adult-only shops and restrict advertising.

"Despite e-cigarettes being intended for adult smokers to help them quit smoking, we've seen skyrocketing rates among youth," Canadian Cancer Society health policy analyst Donna Pasiechnik  in October.

A recent study released by the British Medical Journal (BMJ) showed a 74 per cent increase in vaping among youth in Canada from 2017 to 2018.

Pasiechnik called the results "shocking".

She said educators in the province have told her they are seeing children as young as 10 and 11 vaping.

"We have a big problem on our hands. We risk seeing another generation of kids hooked on nicotine," she said.

"In Saskatchewan we already have the highest youth smoking rates, nearly three times the national average."

In September, the province's Ministry of Health announced it would monitor intensive care units across the province for vaping-related illness,

The move was prompted by after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had reported 530 confirmed and probable cases of lung injury related to e-cigarettes as of Sept. 17, including at least seven deaths. 

In August, Reiter said he found it "troubling" that vaping advertising in stores was aimed at children.

"I mean bubble gum and watermelon. Those aren't targeted at adults. Those are targeted at the kids."