PEI

MLA who voted in favour of P.E.I.'s ban on vape flavours now says it goes too far

A Green MLA who voted in favour of legislation to restrict access to vape products on P.E.I. and ban the sale of flavours now says the ban goes too far.

Steve Howard points to Health Canada assertion that vaping less harmful than smoking

P.E.I. implemented a ban on flavoured vape products as of March 1. (Shane Hennessey/CBC)

A Green MLA who voted in favour of legislation to restrict access to vape products on P.E.I. and ban the sale of vape flavours now says the ban goes too far.

The ban on flavours came into effect March 1, restricting Island retailers to selling only tobacco-flavoured vape products.

Steve Howard, the MLA for Summerside-South Drive, said his understanding was the ban would be on flavours that appealed to children, but that some options would remain for adults.

The specifics around the flavours banned were drawn up in regulations after the bill was passed.

On Thursday, Howard tabled in the legislature an information sheet from Health Canada saying vaping is less harmful than smoking, and that switching to vapes "may reduce health risks for smokers who can't or don't want to quit using nicotine."

"Most of the evidence that's out there shows that as a cessation tool, vaping is very effective compared to smoking, and it's far less harmful," Howard said. 

'Powerful tool' for harm reduction

He said the information from Health Canada "shows clearly that they consider it a step in the right direction."

"Of course, the best option is to not use vaping or smoking. But as far as a harm reduction tool goes, vaping is a powerful tool that we should be not discouraging people from using. And the flavours are a key component to uptake."

Howard said he supports getting rid of flavours with names "that are targeted toward children or youth like cotton candy," and suggested whatever options would remain for adults could be designated simply by a number to reduce their appeal.

Green MLA Steve Howard said when he voted in favour of a ban on flavoured vaping products, he understood that some flavour options would remain targeted toward adults. The specifics around the flavours banned were drawn up in regulations after the bill was passed. (Kirk Pennell/CBC)

He also said the ban on flavours doesn't prevent Island residents from ordering them online.

A private member's bill introduced by PC MLA Cory Deagle passed with unanimous consent in 2019.

As of March 2020, that law increased the age of access for tobacco and vaping products from 19 to 21, and further regulated points of purchase — with vaping products only available through vape shops and tobacconists.

The ban on flavours was the last restriction from the legislation to come into effect.

Deagle said the flavour ban was the key element to meet his objective of trying to keep vape products out of the hands of children.

The P.E.I. Lung Association said it believes the ban "is going to have a huge impact" in reducing the appeal of vaping among Island youth.

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