B.C. hikes tax on vaping products from 7% to 20%

FILE - In this April 11, 2018 file photo, a high school student uses a vaping device near a school campus in Cambridge, Mass. Twice as many high school students used nicotine-tinged electronic cigarettes in 2018 compared with the previous year, an unprecedented jump in a large annual survey of teen smoking, drinking and drug use. Findings were released on Monday, Dec. 17, 2018. (AP Photo/Steven Senne, File)
In this April 11, 2018 file photo, a high school student uses a vaping device near a school campus in Cambridge, Mass. (AP Photo/Steven Senne, File)

The British Columbia government will hike taxes on vaping products by 13 percentage points, as well as restrict flavours and nicotine content, in an effort to discourage youth from picking up the habit.

The province said Thursday it will introduce regulations later this month to increase the provincial sales tax on vaping products from seven per cent to 20 per cent, making B.C. the first province in Canada to implement a specific tax on such products. The tax would apply to all vaping devices, any substance used in the device, and vaping parts and accessories.

The new regulations, which are expected to go into effect in 2020, will also require plain packaging and health warnings for vaping products and restrict public advertising in areas frequented by young people.

“Some vaping manufacturers are using flavours and advertising to entice and normalize vaping for youth, introducing a new generation to very high levels of a very addictive drug,” B.C.’s Minister of Health Adrian Dix said in a statement.

“As a result, youth vaping rates are rising, putting them at risk for addiction and serious illness. That’s why we are bringing in the most comprehensive plan in the country, and supporting young people to end this dangerous trend.”

Governments around the world are grappling with how to regulate vaping, which has exploded in popularity among young people and has been linked to lung injuries and deaths. According to the Centre for Disease Control, there have been 2,172 cases of lung injury in connection to vaping products in the United States as of Nov. 13, and at least 42 deaths.

The B.C. government urges the federal government to introduce national regulations that would apply to vaping product wholesalers.

“Until they do, there will be a black market of non-compliant vapour products from other jurisdictions that can make their way into our province, our schools and the lungs of our young people,” Dix said.

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