OTTAWA - The Liberal government is taking steps to keep e-cigarettes out of the hands of young people while keeping them available to adults as a "likely less harmful" alternative to tobacco.

New legislation introduced today in the Senate would rename the existing law as the Tobacco and Vaping Products Act and regulate the latter category as a separate class of products.

The federal Liberals say vaping products like e-cigarettes have been growing in popularity and the time has come to regulate their manufacture, sale, labelling and promotion.

Data from the 2015 Canadian Tobacco, Alcohol and Drugs Survey show that 26 per cent Canadian youth aged 15-19 reported trying an e-cigarette in 2015 -- up from 20 per cent in 2013.

The Liberals say the proposed changes would also support the government's plans to require plain packaging for tobacco products.

Health Minister Jane Philpott plans to host a national forum early next year to discuss controls on tobacco, which kills some 37,000 Canadians each year.