'Banning flavours isn't the right option,' says Canadian Vaping Association
Limiting advertisements, where products can be purchased are better solutions, association says
The Canadian Vaping Association says while banning flavoured products may protect youth from purchasing e-cigarettes and other vaping products, it limits options for adults looking to stop smoking cigarettes.
According to its website, the association is a national advocacy organization that represents the vaping industry and does not have any tobacco companies within its membership.
A bill, which passed third reading in the P.E.I. Legislature on Thursday night, would restrict where vaping products can be sold, ban certain flavours, and also raise the legal age to buy tobacco and e-cigarettes from 19 to 21.
The association said the bill includes measures to ban vaping flavours that have the potential to help adult smokers switch from, and stay off of, cigarettes.
"What we really need to address is, of course, banning flavours isn't the right option," said Samuel Tam, president of the association.
Advertising promotions also need to be restricted, especially in places where kids have access.— Samuel Tam, president, Canadian Vaping Association
Helping adults quit cigarettes
In an interview on CBC News: Compass on Thursday, Tam said there are other ways to regulate and restrict youth from accessing vaping products, while still giving adults an option to wean off of cigarettes.
"If we look at the B.C. government, what they've done is they've restricted flavours to adult-only specialty stores and they limit the nicotine concentration level," Tam said.
The B.C. legislation limits nicotine in vaping products to 20 milligrams per millilitre.
"I think these are the right steps when you look at protecting youth and reducing youth uptake," Tam said.
While age restrictions are an important piece of the puzzle in ensuring youth have a more difficult time accessing the products, restricting advertisements to adult-only environments is another way to limit youth exposure, he said.
"Advertising promotions also need to be restricted especially in places where kids have access to, which is really important," he said.
"Ontario took that approach by banning advertising and promotions in convenience stores and gas stations where we know a lot of Canadian youths are congregating to buy their gums and candies."
The Vaping Industry Trade Association, the Atlantic Convenience Stores Association, and the Convenience Industry Council of Canada have also expressed concern over the bill.
Underage vaping is a great concern for everyone, but we can't lose sight of the impact on adults.— Mike Hammoud
In a joint media release, the ACSA and CICC said the bill could push former smokers back to cigarettes.
Kenny Snow, manager of the Oyster Bed Esso, also said the bill gives an unfair market advantage to stores in city centres.
"If you're going to take vapes away, take them away … but don't handpick or pick and choose where something can be sold," he said.
"We're way more than a convenience store. We're a community store. There are no tobacconist shops in this area so if an adult smoker wants to make a choice to [vape] … if he makes that choice in the country to vape, he no longer can do that. He has to drive to Charlottetown or find the means to go to Charlottetown to get that vape product."
Snow said he's just "standing up for the country stores."
"I don't have any pull in it other than the fact that I sell goods to my community," he said.
"So it was brought to my attention that if they can no longer buy the vape from me ... they're not going to buy from me anymore, they're going to travel away, so it's taking the customer away."
Tam said under the Tobacco and Vaping Products Act there are also "naming conventions," which restrict companies from using certain language like "cotton candy" to name their product flavours in an effort to protect youth.
"It's hard for them to identify the flavours if the flavour is called No. 18, right? So one of the key things is adults will be able to know the flavour when they walk into an adult-only vape shop," Tam said.
Tam said the association is working on scheduling meetings with the P.E.I. government to discuss possible solutions.
The association said it meets regularly with Canada's federal health agency, and earlier this year made a set of proposals around limiting vaping ads. Among them: imposing a two-step age verification process to make it harder for children to obtain vaping products.
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With files from CBC News: Compass