British Columbia

Tax hike makes it pricier to buy vape products in B.C.

Starting Jan. 1, the provincial sales tax applied to vape products jumped 13 per cent, a measure B.C.'s provincial health officer, Bonnie Henry, says is a step in the right direction toward curbing nicotine addiction.

The PST applied to vape products jumped 13 per cent Jan. 1

B.C's top doctor says cigarette smoking is on the rise among young people and believes it is directly related to vaping-fuelled nicotine addiction. (Kate Dubinski/CBC)

If you vape, expect to pay more for your products at the register in B.C. 

As of Jan.1, the provincial sales tax on vaping devices and substances jumped from seven to 20 per cent. The tax increase applies to e-cigarettes and vape pens, as well as the vapour pods and liquids that go in them and can contain nicotine or cannabis.

The Ministry of Finance says British Columbia is the first province in Canada to introduce a specific tax rate related to vaping products.

It is a move praised by provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, who said the tax is a welcome measure to help combat youth vaping.

"We know from a long history of working on tobacco control that price point is a really important thing," said Henry Tuesday on The Early Edition. "It has been heavily marketed to young people and I think this is a really good step to try and curb that."

Henry said cigarette smoking is also on the rise among young people, which she believes is directly related to becoming addicted to nicotine through vaping.

According to the Canadian Cancer Society, vaping among young people rose by 74 per cent between 2017 and 2018.

Vape advertising plasters the walls of a transit station in Vancouver in September 2019. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

Vaping was originally touted as an alternative for adults trying to quit smoking, but Henry said vape product advertising and the flavoured substances appeal to young people.

Beginning in the spring of 2020, vapour pods and liquids sold in B.C. will only be allowed to contain 20 milligrams of nicotine per millilitre and will have to be sold in plain packaging with health warnings.

Flavoured products will only be sold in vape-specific shops with age restrictions and no advertising will be allowed in public spaces like bus shelters or parks where young people gather.

Henry said regulating vape products is better than outright banning them because that would create an underground market.

To date, health officials have identified three probable cases of vaping-related illness in B.C.

To hear the complete interview with Bonnie Henry on The Early Edition tap the audio link below:

Dr. Bonnie Henry speaks with Stephen Quinn about the province's new laws around e-cigarettes that come into affect this year. 6:33

With files from The Early Edition

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