Key Issues

in E-cigarettes

E-Cigarette Update: Bill S-5 A New Legislative Framework for E-Cigarettes in Canada

Under current federal legislation, only electronic cigarettes that contain no nicotine and that make no health claims are legal. E-cigarettes that contain nicotine and/or that make a health claim (for example, can help with smoking cessation), are regulated under the Food and Drugs Act and require market authorization as drugs. No manufacturer to date has applied for this authorization, yet e-cigarettes with nicotine continue to be widely available across Canada and enforcement by Health Canada has been minimal.

In March 2015 the federal Standing Committee on Health released a report on vaping with 14 recommendations, including the establishment of a new legislative framework for regulating e-cigarettes. Bill S-5, An Act to amend the Tobacco Act and the Non-smokers’ Health Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, which received first reading in the Senate in November 2016, is the government’s response to these recommendations.

According to Health Canada, the proposed legislative framework is based on four key principles:

  • Protecting youth and others from development of nicotine addiction and inducement to tobacco use;
  • Allowing adults to legally access vaping products as “likely” less harmful alternatives to tobacco use;
  • Preserving a path to market for products with therapeutic claims (e.g. smoking cessation); and
  • Providing a mechanism to address risks to human health and safety for products without a therapeutic claim.

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