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.