Thursday, July 22, is the last day Canadians can legally buy e-liquid in strengths above 20 mg/mL (2%). Health Canada announced the rule last December. The existing rule allows sales of products containing up to 66 mg/mL.
The new limit will apply to all vaping products that contain nicotine, including bottled e-liquid, bulk DIY nicotine, and prefilled closed-system pod- and cartridge-based devices. Canadian vape manufacturers will still be allowed to manufacture products for export that exceed the limit for domestic sales.
Health Canada describes the limit as a tactic to reduce adolescent vaping, and justifies the rule by comparing it to the European Union’s identical Tobacco Product Directive (TPD) 20 mg/mL limit. Two Canadian provinces—Nova Scotia and British Columbia—have existing provincial rules banning nicotine strengths above 20 mg/mL.
The Canadian regulator is also preparing to ban e-liquid flavors (except tobacco, mint and menthol) early next year. Health Canada is currently accepting public comment on its flavor ban proposal.
Most closed-system pod devices use nicotine salts-based vape juice in strengths above 20 mg/mL. Their tiny atomizers and pods require high-strength nicotine to produce vapor with enough nicotine to satisfy users accustomed to smoking cigarettes.
Manufacturers of sealed pod- and cartridge-based products will now have to redesign their devices for the Canadian market to produce more vapor and (probably) hold more e-liquid.
Open-system products that are refillable with bottled e-liquid are less affected by the nicotine limit, since most users of larger atomizers and tanks prefer 3-12 mg/mL nicotine strengths. There are also some refillable pod-based devices that emit enough vapor to be useful with lower nicotine levels.
Sources in Canada say that vape shops and other retailers are blowing out their stocks of high-strength e-liquids and pod devices, so prices will be very attractive through tomorrow for vapers who want to stock up before the rule takes effect on Friday.
Smokers created vaping without any help from the tobacco industry or anti-smoking crusaders, and vapers have the right to keep innovating to help themselves. My goal is to provide clear, honest information about the challenges vaping faces from lawmakers, regulators, and brokers of disinformation. I recently joined the CASAA board, but my opinions aren’t necessarily CASAA’s, and vice versa. You can find me on Twitter @whycherrywhy