IT IS THEREFORE RESOLVED THAT AUMA advocate for the Government of Alberta to expeditiously amend the Tobacco and Smoking Reduction Act and/or regulations under that statute, as required to ban the advertisement and promotion of vaping products to Alberta’s youth.
WHEREAS federal and provincial regulations are in place that restrict the advertisement and promotion of tobacco products and specifically ban any such advertising and promotion that is directed at young people;
WHEREAS similar regulations are not in place for vaping products in Alberta, but do exist in other provinces;
WHEREAS the federal government is contemplating national regulations related to the advertisement of vaping products, yet no timeline for implementation has been established;
WHEREAS vaping rates among Alberta high school students almost tripled from 2015 to 2017; and
WHEREAS vaping increasingly poses a threat to the progress made on preventing teen nicotine addiction and tobacco-use, and its related health effects place unnecessary costs on the provincial healthcare system and Alberta taxpayers.
Vaping is the act of inhaling or exhaling an aerosol produced by a vaping product, such as an electronic cigarette. Vaping does not require burning like cigarette smoking. The device heats a liquid into a vapor, which then turns to aerosol. This vapor is often flavored and can contain nicotine.
Health advocates have raised concerns regarding rising rates of youth vaping. Health Canada states that:
There is substantial evidence that e-cigarette (a type of vaping product) use results in symptoms of dependence;
There is substantial evidence that e-cigarette use increases the risk of ever using combustible tobacco cigarettes among youth and young adults; and,
Children and youth are especially susceptible to the harmful effects of nicotine, including addiction. They may become dependent on nicotine with lower levels of exposure than adults.
The University of Waterloo notes that the percentage of Albertans who are smokers has been steadily declining since 1999, from 26% in 1999 to 16% in 2015. Given that Health Canada notes that there is substantial evidence that e-cigarette use increases risk of ever using combustible tobacco cigarettes, and that vaping rates are quickly increasing, vaping poses a threat to the progress made on preventing teen nicotine addiction.
The 2016-17 Canadian Student Tobacco, Alcohol and Drugs Survey, administered to Canadians between grades 7 and 12 indicates that:
The number of Alberta high school students who admit to vaping almost tripled between 2015 and 2017, from 8% to 22%;
15% of Canadian students in grades 10-12 used a vaping product in the past 30 days, up from 9% in 2014-15; and
53% of Canadian students in grades 7-12 responded it would be “fairly easy” or “very easy” to get a vaping product such as e-cigarettes if they wanted to.
The Conference Board of Canada notes that in 2012, tobacco use resulted in $6.5 billion in direct healthcare costs, and 45,464 deaths were attributable to smoking in Canada.
At the time of development of this resolution (April 2019), the Government of Canada is considering new regulations through the Tobacco and Vaping Products Act for vaping products that would restrict the advertisement of products by limiting the locations where advertisements can be placed and the display of vaping products in certain retail locations; limiting the content in advertisements; and informing the public through a health warning on advertisements. These changes would ensure vaping advertising is treated similarly to tobacco advertising. Whether these will be adopted or not, and a timeline for implementation is not known at this time. There are no known FCM resolutions on this topic.
As there is no timeline on implementation of federal legislation, because of the dramatic increase in youth vaping in Alberta, and that all provinces other than Alberta and Saskatchewan regulate e-cigarette use and restrict the promotion and advertisement of vaping products, the City of St. Albert believes this topic is provincial in scope. In Alberta, vaping advertisements are not restricted, and are on display in locations that youth frequent, unlike tobacco products. This includes at the checkout at convenience stores, and outside the store near schools. The Government of Alberta has an opportunity to be nimble and address this rising issue quickly and effectively.
In the event the Government of Canada has established a timeline for implementation, or implemented nation-wide vaping regulations come Fall 2019, this resolution may no longer be required. Alternatively, there may be gaps in the federal regulations that the Alberta Government can address through amendments to the Tobacco and Smoking Reduction Act.
There is also little precedent for municipal regulation of product advertisement in Alberta, with most examples of product regulation existing at the provincial and federal orders of government. Changes to the Alberta Tobacco and Smoking Reduction Act to regulate the advertisement of vaping products in a similar manner to that of tobacco would effectively eliminate the kind of advertising and promotion that targets young people, and should help to reverse the trend of rising rates of youth vaping in Alberta.
There are no active or historical AUMA resolutions related to vaping.
Conference Board of Canada. (2017, October). The Costs of Tobacco Use in Canada, 2012. Retrieved from https://www.canada.ca/content/dam/hc-sc/documents/services/publications/healthy-living/costs-tobacco-use-canada- 2012/Costs-of-Tobacco-Use-in-Canada-2012-eng.pdf.
Government of Canada. (2018, June 12). Detailed tables for the Canadian Student Tobacco, Alcohol and Drugs Survey 2016-17. Retrieved from https://www.canada.ca/en/health canada/services/canadian-student-tobacco-alcohol-drugs-survey/2016-2017 supplementary-tables.html
Health Canada. (2019, March 13). Risks of vaping. Retrieved from https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/smoking-tobacco/vaping/risks.html
University of Waterloo. (n.d.) Tobacco use in Canada: Alberta. Retrieved from https://uwaterloo.ca/tobacco-use-canada/adult-tobacco-use/smoking-provinces/alberta
The response from the Minister of Health states that “vaping provisions are not explicitly identified in the scope of Alberta's current tobacco control legislation” and the province shares AUMA’s concerns. The Minister notes that the province is “conducting a review of the Tobacco and Smoking Reduction Act, and amendments may be put forward as early as next spring.”
The Ministry of Health opened consultations on the Tobacco and Smoking Reduction Act in fall 2019. Meetings were held in Edmonton, Calgary, Red Deer, Lethbridge, Grande Prairie, and Fort McMurray, and stakeholders also had the opportunity to provide feedback through a public survey and written submissions. AUMA promoted this review to members in the November 6, 2019 edition of the Digest.
Representatives from AUMA, RMA, the City of Airdrie, and the City of St. Albert met with Ministry staff and Jeremy Nixon, UCP MLA for Calgary-Klein who is leading the review, on November 27, 2019. At this meeting, Mr. Nixon indicated that restricting the advertisement and promotion of vaping products to youth would be a priority for the Ministry of Health in 2020.
Given the legislative review and the province’s commitment to addressing this issue, it is recommended that AUMA accept the province’s response.