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A private member’s bill tabled by Progressive Conservative Cory Deagle would raise the legal age to buy tobacco and e-cigarettes from 19 to 21 in Prince Edward Island.Daniel Becerril/Reuters

Prince Edward Island is on the verge of passing strict measures to regulate the use of vaping products, including adopting the highest age restriction in the country.

A private member’s bill tabled by Progressive Conservative Cory Deagle would raise the legal age to buy tobacco and e-cigarettes from 19 to 21, ban certain flavours of e-cigarettes and restrict where the products can be sold.

The amendments to the Tobacco and Electronic Smoking Devices Sales and Access Act unanimously passed second reading in the legislature Tuesday night and now await third reading before becoming law.

Mr. Deagle quoted a study that found a 74-per-cent increase in vaping among Canadian youth between 2017 and 2018.

“We have had huge success reducing smoking rates over the past two decades and these recent statistics are really scary, and what is happening is almost like tobacco 2.0,” he told the legislature.

According to the Canadian Cancer Society, at least 16 U.S. states have already moved their age limit to 21.

Under PEI’s changes, e-cigarettes would only be sold in specialty shops and would be banned from gas stations, convenience stores and grocery stores. Only customers 21 and older would be allowed to enter the shops, and product displays would not be visible from outside.

Mr. Deagle told the legislature the flavour ban would not take effect immediately and would be done through cabinet regulation, a process that would likely take one year.

Premier Dennis King also talked about exploring new taxation for vaping products in the spring budget, an issue raised earlier by Green Party Leader Peter Bevan-Baker.

“I think we have to look at how we deal with our taxation to the point where we don’t drive this underground, but we make it more difficult and costly to purchase,” Mr. King said.

He said the challenge is to find how the minority Tory government can work with opposition parties to “put teeth behind this.”

Last week, the B.C. government introduced a comprehensive 10-point plan aimed at protecting youth from the health risks of vaping, including legislation that would boost the provincial sales tax on such products from 7 per cent to 20 per cent.

The B.C. initiative also includes new regulations to take effect next spring that would restrict the amount of nicotine in vapour pods, require health warnings and prevent advertising of vapour products in areas where youth spend time, including bus shelters and community parks.

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