Province wants to discourage youth from vaping through 20% retail tax

Alberta's new vaping tax, aimed at curbing teen vaping, is being met with encouragement and criticism.

A vaping business says the tax is targeting the wrong demographic

The provincial government says the vaping tax and its legislation will be introduced in spring. (CBC)

As a part of the new fiscal plan Alberta announced last Thursday, it will be implementing a 20 per cent tax on the retail sale price of vaping products. 

The tax will apply to all vaping liquids, including cannabis liquids and vaping devices. 

"Making all vaping products more expensive is an effective way to discourage youth use, as youth are more responsive to higher prices," the three year fiscal plan from the province reads. 

The approach is modelled after the vaping tax in British Columbia, which is also rated at 20 per cent. 

Vaping retailers will be required to collect the tax from their customers and then remit it to the province. Albertans who purchase online vaping products from another jurisdiction will also be subjected to the tax. 

But Alberta retailers are not required to collect the tax on online sales they make to customers in other jurisdictions. 

Youth vaping on the rise 

A survey conducted by Health Canada in 2018-19 found that nearly 20 per cent of Alberta students in Grades 7 to 12 had used vaping products in the last 30 days — compared to 4.8 per cent from the 2014-15 survey. 

Thomas Kirsop, owner of Alternatives and Options Vapourizers and E-Liquids in St. Albert, believes the tax is targeting the wrong demographic. 

The majority of youth get their vaping products illegally and socially through the black market and the vaping tax won't change that, Kirsop said.

"What we're doing here is we're taxing people who have quit smoking in the hopes that people who are accessing this illegally will stop," he said. 

The tax will make vaping products more expensive for adults who are trying to quit cigarettes, he said.

"We don't target the younger groups, the reality is at 18, they're allowed to make their own legal decisions," Kirsop said. 

Les Hagen, executive director of Action on Smoking and Health, believes the tax will be effective in curbing teen vaping.

"Tobacco taxes have been very effective in reducing youth smoking over the years," he said. "So we're hoping to see the same for this vaping tax." 

"We just want restrictions on those products to deal with the explosive rise in youth vaping," Hagen said.  

The provincial government says the date of implementation and new legislation of the vaping tax will be introduced in the spring. 

It's estimating the tax will generate about $4 million in 2020-21 and $8 million in 2021-22.

With files from Tricia Kindleman


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.