Kelowna retailer reacts to proposed flavoured vape ban

Vape stores push back

A proposed federal ban on all flavoured e-cigarette and vape products is sparking criticism from the industry in Kelowna.

Health Canada proposed last week a ban on the distribution of all flavoured vape products except tobacco, mint and menthol.

That is news has been difficult for vape store owners like Austin Robertson and his brother Myles, who own 11 vape shops across Canada, including one in Kelowna. Austin says this new law would mean those who were trying to quit smoking by using an e-cigarettes will just go back to tobacco use.

“Adult vapers are just going to be pushed back to smoking traditional tobacco, and that's what the vape industry has always been about, is getting adults off of combustible tobacco. If you remove the flavours, you push vapers back to smoking and that's what this business was set out to do is help people find a healthier alternative to smoking,” said Austin.

With over 1,400 vape shops across Canada, the industry says the new law could be a death blow.

“If they remove flavours, we basically shut down, and every retailer across Canada would shut down. We ran our data on all of our shops, and basically 98 per cent of our sales are flavoured e-liquid to adults. You remove the flavours, then you remove the option for people to make healthy decision like this,” said Austin

Myles Robertson is equally frustrated with the potential of his business and many others shutting down. He says people will still find a way to get these flavoured products without supporting their local vape shops.

“These ingredients that it takes to make flavoured e-juices can be bought from any grocery store, online, and effectively it will put the black market back in business as well, and those people will be buying and selling with zero regulations on who they can buy and sell to, meaning kids will get their hands on it a lot easier,” said Myles.

Castanet recently ran an online poll to find out if people were in favour of the flavour ban. Just under 9,500 people responded, with 50 per cent of the votes saying they agreed with the ban, 43 per cent said they were against it, and six per cent say they are unsure how they feel.

The Canadian Cancer Society welcomed Ottawa’s proposed flavour restrictions as a step in the right direction. But the group called for the draft regulations to be amended during the 75-day consultation period, which launched last week, to add mint and menthol to the list of banned flavours, citing their appeal to youth.

Also last week, the federal government finalized regulations that lower the maximum nicotine concentration for vaping products sold in Canada to 20 mg/ml from 66 mg/ml.

The nicotine cap will take effect for e-cigarette manufacturers on July 8, and retailers will have to pull products that exceed the limit after July 23.

A Statistics Canada report released in March suggests that about one in seven young Canadians reported vaping in the previous month in 2019.

“Vaping is putting a new generation of Canadians at risk of nicotine addiction,” Health Minister Patty Hadju said in a statement. “These new measures build on our efforts to stop young Canadians from vaping.”

with files from the Canadian Press

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