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Fruit- and dessert-flavoured vaping products will be prohibited as the U.S. government tries to curb youth vaping and lung injuries linked to e-cigarettes. Menthol- and tobacco-flavoured products will still be permitted; so will open-tank vaping systems, which let users mix their own vaping liquids. Manufacturers, distributors and retailers will have to comply with the new rules within 30 days or face fines from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). (Reuters, The New York Times)

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Talking point: The president said in September 2019 that he planned to ban sweet-flavoured products, which tend to appeal most to kids and non-smokers, but walked back the proposed restrictions after advisers and lobbyists said it would hurt his popularity among voters. Evidence has been mounting since that e-cigarettes are harmful and attractive to young people who might otherwise refrain from smoking. Several jurisdictions—including Canada’s Nova Scotia, B.C. and Ontario—have introduced their own laws to address the problems linked to vaping. The new U.S.-wide FDA rules are the most sweeping regulations yet in the country. Health professionals in Canada have pressured the federal government to take similarly broad steps; Health Canada proposed banning vaping ads in December, but hasn’t gone so far as to restrict products.

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The company has stopped selling dessert- and fruit-flavoured vaping pods, pending a review from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The company will keep selling mint, menthol and tobacco flavours. (Bloomberg)

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Talking point: The move partially preempts the FDA’s plan to ban all flavoured vaping liquids—regulations on which Juul promised not to lobby the Trump administration in September. Juul has previously made changes to its practices in advance of new rules. In November 2018, it pulled most flavoured pods from brick-and-mortar stores in the U.S. amid reports that the FDA was set to announce a similar requirement. In Canada, Nova Scotia and British Columbia are considering provincial bans on flavoured products. The federal Vaping Products Act, the country’s first vaping law, already prohibits the promotion of pods flavoured like desserts, candy, soft drinks or energy drinks. Lisa Hutniak, director of communications for Juul in Canada, said the company follows local regulations wherever it operates, and “believes flavoured products can play an important role in helping adult smokers move away from combustible cigarettes.”

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The Council of Chief Medical Officers of Health (CCMOH) recommended that federal, provincial and territorial governments enforce a wide prohibition, but allow exemptions for “a minimum set of flavours” for smokers trying to quit. It also suggested a minimum age of 21, and called for Ottawa to require vaping products to be sold in plain packaging marked with health warnings. (The Logic)

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Talking point: The CCMOH said it is “significantly concerned” about youth vaping in Canada; the measures are designed to address that problem. The group’s statement also notes that federal regulation on many of its recommendations “would be preferred to create national consistency.” But some provinces have already enacted their own measures—Nova Scotia and B.C. will shortly enact a flavour ban and plain-packaging rules, respectively. Health Canada consulted on both flavours and packaging last year, and is considering the results. As The Logic reported earlier this month, market leader Juul Canada pre-empted any changes by halting production on four flavoured pods pending Ottawa’s decision. The company has previously backed increasing the legal age for vaping purchases to 21 in Quebec.

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Researchers followed 32,000 lung-disease-free subjects between 2013 and 2016; those that used e-cigarettes were 30 per cent more likely to develop chronic diseases like asthma, emphysema and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease compared to people who never smoked or vaped. People who smoked cigarettes and vaped were 3.3 times more likely to develop lung illnesses compared to non-smokers, according to the study, published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine(The Logic)

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Talking point: This is one of the first studies to show the impacts of vaping over time. The products have been billed as less harmful alternative to cigarette smoking, and while the study substantiates that claim, it nonetheless sheds new light on the significant health risks associated with vaping. It raises two main concerns: people who both smoke tobacco and e-cigarettes—the most common “use pattern,” according to the study—are at a far higher risk than those who do one or the other. The study also confirms fears that non-smokers are developing illnesses they would likely have avoided had they not picked up vaping. The study lands as regulators in Canada and the U.S. consider ways to stymie the growing youth vaping craze. Earlier this month, Nova Scotia became the first province to ban flavoured vape products, which tend to appeal most to young people and non-smokers; those rules will be effective starting April 1, 2020.

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The e-cigarette company is soliciting buyers for a 28-storey building it bought five months ago. Juul paid US$1,093 per square foot, one of the highest rates ever paid for an office building in the city. The company planned to move employees into the new office—which is five times bigger than its current headquarters—in 2020. (San Francisco Chronicle)

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Talking point: Juul’s financial outlook has changed drastically since it bought the building. At the time, it had 1,200 employees in the city and was growing rapidly. Now, in the face of intensifying regulatory pushback, it’s planning to scale back its spending by US$1 billion and cut 650 employees—about 16 per cent of its global workforce. The company laid off 245 staff in the Bay Area this week. Juul owns the greatest share of the e-cigarette market by far, placing it at the centre of a panic around the uptick in youth vaping and the more than 2,000 deaths linked to e-cigarette use. In Canada, a new survey of more than 75,000 high school students in B.C., Alberta, Ontario and Quebec found that between 19 and 32 per cent of them had vaped in the last month. Canadian health officials have called for emergency legislation to stop young people from getting addicted to e-cigarettes, but regulators have been slow to act. Parts of the U.S. are moving faster: On Thursday, New York’s state attorney general announced plans to ban flavoured e-cigarettes as early as next week.

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An otherwise healthy 17-year-old from London, Ont. nearly died after using flavoured e-cigarettes, often adding THC, daily for five months, according to a report published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal. He originally went to the hospital with a severe cough and was sent home with a prescription to treat pneumonia. His symptoms worsened and he was put on a ventilator five days later. Doctors were considering a lung transplant before he started responding to a high-dose treatment of corticosteroids. The illness is considered chronic, whereas most vapers who have gotten sick in the U.S. show acute symptoms of inflammatory pneumonia. (The Logic)

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Talking point: The patient’s illness, called bronchiolitis obliterans, is similar to a chronic lung disease seen in factory workers exposed to diacetyl, a chemical used in microwave popcorn. Doctors don’t know the exact cause of the teen’s illness, but they think it could be flavouring ingredients in e-cigarettes. The report follows the B.C. government’s proposal to limit nicotine content, ban flavours and levy a tax on e-cigarettes. The rules would be the strictest yet in Canada. While there have been a handful of vaping illnesses reported in Canada, the numbers aren’t nearly as high as in the U.S. Still, health officials have called for nationwide emergency regulations on e-cigarettes before more people to get sick.

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The new rules would limit nicotine concentrations in e-cigarettes to 20 milligrams per millilitre, restrict flavoured vaping sales to adult-only stores and raise the sales tax on vaping products from seven per cent to 20 per cent. If the legislation passes, the new tax would become effective on Jan. 1, 2020, with other regulations coming that April. (Vancouver Sun)

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Talking point: The regulations would make B.C. the first province or territory with a tax specifically on vape sales. The proposed changes echo a push in the U.S. for tougher regulations amid an uptick in youth vaping and growing number of vaping-related lung injuries—as of November 13, there had been a reported 2,172 cases in the country, including 42 deaths. While Canada has seen relatively few cases of the illness, health officials have called on emergency regulations to be placed on e-cigarettes rather than wait for clearer evidence of their safety, or for more people to get sick. Also on Friday, Apple said it would remove all 181 vaping-related apps from its App Store, citing warnings from health authorities.

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The move is part of an action plan issued Thursday by eight government bodies to quell the “distinct increase” in e-cigarette use among teens. Last week, the country also banned all online sales of vaping products. (Bloomberg)

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Talking point: China’s e-cigarette market grew from an estimated US$451 million in 2016 to US$718 million in 2018. Losing the country’s online market and limiting the convenience of vaping could stymie that growth. The announcement follows a ban on the production, import and sale of e-cigarettes in India, another significant growth market for the vaping industry. And on Wednesday, U.S. Rep. Mark DeSaulnier introduced a bill to ban e-cigarette sales nationwide until the Food and Drug Administration completes pre-market reviews of the products. The threat of sweeping new regulations has rocked industry leader Juul, which lost US$14 billion in value after tobacco giant Altria wrote down its US$12.8-billion investment in the company by US$4.5 billion. The regulatory crackdown comes amid rising youth vaping rates and more people falling sick from a mysterious lung injury linked to vaping—as of Tuesday, 2,051 cases were reported, including 39 deaths.