PEI

P.E.I. MLA gets online backlash as vaping bill passes 3rd reading

The private member's bill passed third reading in the legislature Thursday afternoon, but the MLA who introduced it received online backlash over the bill that could see P.E.I. soon have some of the strictest vaping laws in the country.

Online attacks began after bill passed 2nd reading Tuesday

The bill would raise the legal age to buy tobacco and vaping products from 19 to 21. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

The MLA behind a private member's bill that will put stricter regulations on vaping and tobacco products has faced online backlash since it passed second reading Tuesday.

The private member's bill passed third reading in the legislature unanimously with all-party support on Thursday afternoon. It now only needs royal assent before it becomes law.

MLA Cory Deagle's bill aims to restrict where vaping products are sold.

It would also raise the age limit on e-cigarettes and tobacco from 19 to 21, as well as restrict the sale of certain flavours.

Since Tuesday evening, people against the bill have been targeting Deagle online.

MLA Cory Deagle says the bans on flavoured products would not come into effect right away. Those would be done through regulations in cabinet, which he said, would likely be a year-long process. (Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC)

"Obviously, anytime anyone introduces a bill or a piece of legislation, there's going to be people with different opinions and that is fair," said Deagle. 

"That is the democratic society we live in, but certainly there has been, I would say, a very small percentage of backlash."

Overwhelming support

Deagle said for the most part he has received overwhelming support and he doesn't intend to let the unkind words of a few people on social media deter him.

He said he has not heard any negative feedback in person, just online.

I feel sorry that you've been the victim of this really disgraceful behaviour.— Green Party Leader Peter Bevan-Baker

Deagle said he expected some criticism of the bill, but didn't think that it would take this kind of tone.

One person online suggested Deagle should be vicously beaten. Another threatened to show up at his house at night with a noisy car, saying "Good luck sleeping bud it's not gonna happen if this bill passes."

Another, involved Deagle's family, commenting "I hope all of your family gets lung cancer so you can realize how important vapes are in this day and age."

"We can disagree respectfully," Deagle said. "I don't think they are wishing me ill will. Perhaps it was just heat of the moment kind of thing, but when it starts going after your family, that's hurtful."

Deagle said he wants to make vaping products less accessible to young people, especially teenagers. (Shutterstock / Aliaksandr Barous)

Deagle said he hopes that people are able to move forward from this in a respectful manner to do good things for the youth of P.E.I.

Peter Bevan-Baker, the leader of the Opposition, rose in the legislature on Thursday calling the comments "horrendous" and the behaviour "completely unacceptable."

"I feel sorry that you've been the victim of this really disgraceful behaviour and I hope that it stops immediately," Bevan-Baker said.

Other MLAs condemn online backlash

Others, including the premier, followed in condemning the attacks.

Deagle said he has been working on the bill since June of 2019. He said he consulted with everyone from students to educators and vaping retailers. He doesn't plan to let the comments slow him down.

"Like I said, it was a small percentage of people [complaining] and I think overall Islanders are courteous and I would hope that it doesn't continue down that path," Deagle said.

"I am going to take the high road and I think what I am doing is right and it is helping Islanders. That is what I am going to stick with."

More P.E.I. news

With files from Jessica Doria-Brown

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