We all agree that youth should never vape, and adults who don’t smoke shouldn’t vape either. Vaping is not without risk. But Health Canada says that vaping is less harmful than smoking, and the UK’s Public Health England estimates vaping to be at least 95 per cent less harmful.
The question is, will Ontario be guided by the evidence, and do everything it can to make it easier for adult smokers to choose vaping, while stepping up efforts to prevent youth from accessing these products? Or will our province fall into the same traps that other provinces are succumbing to by proposing short-sighted restrictions that will do nothing to keep youth from vaping, but certainly make it harder for adult smokers to choose vaping? Help Ontario make the right choice by sending the below letter to your MPP today.
According to Government of Canada data, youth who vape, or have tried vaping, are not generally acquiring their vapes through normal retail channels, like corner stores. They are primarily getting these products from “social sources,” including older siblings or friends, shady online sellers and grey-market retailers.
Taking vapes or flavoured vaping products out of convenience stores will do nothing to stop youth from vaping. It will, however, make it less likely that adult smokers will try vaping.
In routine audits, neighbourhood stores perform exceptionally well at refusing to sell to youth—better than the LCBO. In fact, in 2018, 19,679 secret shopper checks revealed that Ontario convenience stores refuse sale of age-restricted products to minors 96.2 per cent of the time. That’s because neighbourhood stores can’t afford to risk it—their livelihoods depend in part on being allowed to sell age-restricted products. And that’s an important point, because if your objective is to move smokers into reduced risk options, you need to meet them where they are, and that’s the corner store or local gas station.
It is important to note that there already is a national ban on flavours that appeal to youth—things like bubble gum and cotton candy. Appropriate, federally permitted flavours, however, encourage adult smokers to try vaping, especially those who want to move away from tobacco.
Rather than taking the reactionary and counterproductive step of banning all flavours or limiting where they can be sold, it is time to actually enforce the existing flavour ban and crack down on shady dealers who offer illegal flavours.
In 2019, Health Canada audited thousands of specialty vape shops and the results are disturbing. They found that 80 per cent of specialty vape shops were violating the law. The most common infractions were illegal flavours and illegal use of testimonials.
Rather than taking the reactionary and counterproductive step of banning all flavours or limiting their sales to specialty vape shops, it is time for Ontario to actually enforce the existing federal flavour ban and crack down on shady dealers who offer illegal flavours.
With the recent news of vaping-related illnesses in the U.S. and elsewhere, some are concluding that vaping is just as dangerous as smoking. But the evidence continues to point to vaping as a potentially reduced risk option compared to smoking. In the wake of these reports, Public Health England is doubling down on its advice that smokers should switch to vaping, because it remains 95 per cent less harmful.
Part of the problem here is that media reports have misled the public by regularly linking nicotine vaping to cases where illegal THC vapes or illegal, black market flavours were involved.
But in November 2019, the CDC identified vitamin E acetate as a chemical of concern in the U.S. cases. The additive, associated with some black market THC vaping products, is never used in the federally permitted nicotine vapes sold in Canada.
The evidence is increasingly telling us that federally permitted vapes in appropriate flavours and nicotine strengths are not the culprit. But if regulations drive vaping underground, how will there be any oversight of ingredients, such as vitamin E acetate, or illegal flavours? The unintended consequences could be disastrous.
Send a letter to your MPP today telling them to see the logic and let vapes do what they are meant to do: give adult smokers choices.
Just add your postal code to the form below and a letter will be automatically generated to your local Member of Provincial Parliament.