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Posted on 29 March 2021

The Proposal of a Nicotine Cap 

The main reason why the Canadian Government is seeking to set a nicotine cap at 20mg/mL as well as a comprehensive flavor ban is to deter youth and non-smokers from vaping. The Canadian Government believes that having less appealing flavors will reduce the consumption of tobacco and vaping related products among the Canadian youth population. The government also believes that setting a nicotine cap will reduce the risk of youth and non-smokers becoming addicted to the substance. 

Why they should reconsider: While it is important to minimize the risk of youth addiction (in relation to nicotine, tobacco, and e-cigarette products), setting a nicotine cap would create several issues in the Tobacco and Vape industry. One of the most notable issues would be that existing vapers who use higher nicotine content E-Liquid may find themselves unsatisfied and switch back to traditional combustible tobacco cigarettes. 

In 2017 roughly 3.3 million Canadians were estimated to be daily smokers of combustible cigarettes. With an average  daily consumption rate of 13 cigarettes per day, adult smokers require higher levels of nicotine to satisfy cravings and make it possible for them to switch to a less harmful tobacco alternative. Cigarette smoke is the cause of 230,000 deaths in Canada every year. With that figure in mind many tobacco control advocates focus their efforts on harm reduction strategies which recognize the addictive properties of nicotine, and the fact that some smokers are unable or unwilling to quit, while also aiming to improve the health and quality of life for smokers and those around them. One such strategy for harm reduction has been explained by Scott Gottlieb M.D, an FDA commissioner, in a 2017 statement he released regarding the FDA’s proposal to lower the nicotine level of combustible cigarettes to a non-addictive level. In his statement he remarks “Looking at ways to reduce nicotine levels in cigarettes so that they are minimally or non-addictive, while not altering the nicotine content of noncombustible products such as e-cigarettes, is a cornerstone of our new and more comprehensive approach to effective tobacco regulation.” It’s clear from his statement that Dr. Gottlieb and the F.D.A recognize the importance of providing smokers a real alternative to combustible cigarettes when our goal is to improve the health of Canadians nationwide. This study examined the health risk of e-liquid in comparison with combustible cigarettes and found e-cigarettes to be a safe choice for smokers, further supporting the notion that e-cigarettes are essential to harm reduction and must remain accessible to adults who currently use combustible cigarettes. 

Furthermore, it’s important to recognize that while nicotine is addictive and does have side effects, current research suggests that nicotine does not carry on its own the same health risks as combustible cigarettes.   

Another issue could arise from the proposed nicotine cap is a “Black Market” for E-Liquid that offers the higher nicotine content. E-Liquid that consumers are familiar with, but without the reassurance of a lab-developed product put even more users at risk with unknown ingredients/substances. Research suggests that there is a statistically significant correlation between unregulated e-liquid and vaping related lung injury. 

Furthermore, there is inconclusive evidence to support that lower nicotine levels in Vaping products deter or hinder youth from:

  1. Accessing Tobacco and Vape products
  2. Utilizing Tobacco and Vape products
  3. Becoming addicted to Tobacco and Vape products

Current Nicotine Cap in Canada

66mg/mL is the nicotine cap as of Dec. 2019, as outlined in the Tobacco and Vape Products Act (TVPA) in relation to the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act, under the Statutory Orders and Regulations (SOR) concerning Vaping Products Labelling and Packaging Regulations (See: Vaping Products Labelling and Packaging Regulations, Part 2, section 49: Maximum nicotine concentration) Govt of Canada

Call to Action

The truth is that each and every individual is different and the level of nicotine strength varies depending on the individual. The current limits allow for a range of strengths tailored to an adult smoker’s needs. Reducing these strengths to nearly 70% will be detrimental to the lives of smokers and vape users, potentially forcing many former smokers to revert back to using cigarettes.

Vapour products with increased nicotine levels can increase the chances of quitting successfully compared to other smoking alternatives and methods. Limiting the amount of nicotine in vaping products will reduce the effectiveness of vaping as a harm reduction, leaving out the needs of the Canadians most impacted by smoking related health concerns.

So what can we do about this? To have your voice heard in the debate surrounding a potentially harmful nicotine cap on vape products we encourage you to check out,, for some excellent resources on how to get involved. 

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