PEI

'I won't be swayed': P.E.I. to ban flavoured vape juice

Consultations are underway for regulating vaping product sales on P.E.I., but Health Minister James Aylward says he has made up his mind on one thing.

Age that Islanders are starting vaping alarming, says health minister

Vaping has been touted as a smoking cessation product. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Consultations are underway for regulating vaping product sales on P.E.I., but Health Minister James Aylward says he has made up his mind on one thing.

Flavoured vape juice will be banned in the province.

"We did it with flavoured tobacco, we're going to do it with flavoured vaping as well," Aylward told CBC's Island Morning.

"I won't be swayed."

The health minister has made the decision in the face of opposition from Imperial Tobacco and the Atlantic Convenience Stores Association.

Industry reaction

In a news release, Imperial Tobacco urged governments in Canada to be certain vaping regulations were based on science.

"This is an extremely complex issue for which governments need to talk to scientists and doctors who understand the issue and not get swayed by the dramatized headlines," said Eric Gagnon, head of corporate and regulatory affairs at Imperial Tobacco Canada.

Aylward hopes to have the ban in place this spring. (Kerry Campbell/CBC)

"If politicians and regulators allow themselves to be influenced by fear instead of facts, the biggest losers will be the millions of adult smokers across Canada who want an alternative to smoking."

In a release, the Vaping Industry Trade Association said it's calling upon "all levels of government to formally acknowledge the thousands of Canadian vapers who quit smoking by vaping."

The organization said it wants government to carefully consider how proposed policies negatively affect adults who rely on vaping products to remain smoke-free.

Shamus Kelly, owner of Eastern Vapes in Charlottetown, says banning flavoured vaping products isn't the answer to getting youth to stop using the products. (Natalia Goodwin/CBC)

Shamus Kelly, owner of Eastern Vapes in Charlottetown, said banning flavoured vaping products won't get them out of the hands of Island youth.

"They're pushing everybody to the black market. They are going to get their hands on it, no matter what," Kelly said.

"But now it's not going to be professionally-tested, lab-tested stuff. It's going to be black market products that, who know what's in them, right? And they're going to get them that way." 

Julia Hartley, with the P.E.I. Lung Association, says she's in support of the provincial government's decision to ban flavoured vaping products. (Natalia Goodwin/CBC)

Kelly said up to 80 per cent of his business is selling flavoured vapes so he expects the decision to affect his bottom line. 

Julia Hartley, with the P.E.I. Lung Association, said there's evidence to show that youth between the ages of 18 and 24 are particularly drawn to flavoured vaping products. 

"We have data showing that almost 100 per cent of youth prefer flavoured products and also data showing that half of these kids would quit vaping if, you know, the flavours were taken away. That's all the evidence we need," she said. 

'Trying to protect our population'

Aylward said he was alarmed by news from P.E.I.'s Public Schools Branch that vaping is starting as early as Grade 4. He believes banning flavoured vapes will discourage young people.

"Trying to protect our population, particularly our youth, that's the number one thing that I think about every day," he said.

Consultations on regulations will go on about another week, said Aylward, and he expects to have draft regulations by early March, and those could be in force as soon as the end of that month.

Aylward said there is still a role for the federal government in regulation when it comes to online sales and limiting the amount of nicotine in products. 

More P.E.I. news

With files from Island Morning and Natalia Goodwin

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