CALGARY — Nowadays, you don’t have to look far to find a teenager or young adult puffing on an e-cigarette, and for Health Canada, that’s become a major concern.
According to the most recent numbers from Statistics Canada, about 14 per cent of youth aged 15 to 19 said they had vaped in the past 30 days and roughly 35 per cent reported having tried vape products at some point in their lives.
For young adults between 20 to 24 years old, 13 per cent said they vaped in the past 30 days and almost half said they had tried vaping at some point.
People 25 years old and up on the other hand, reported much different results. Just three per cent said they used a vape in the past 30 days and only 13 per cent had tried it in their lifetime.
“The fruit flavours that are being used, the online marketing promotions in the industry have been targeted in terms of to be appealing to youth,” said Brent Friesn, the medical officer of health for Alberta Health Services’ Tobacco, Vaping and Cannabis Program.
“There are some restrictions that have recently come into place at the provincial level and the federal level that will hopefully have an impact on youth vaping.”
Those restrictions are part of the Tobacco, Smoking and Vaping Reduction Act (TSVRA) which came into effect on July 31st.
The act includes harsher fines, advertisement restrictions, and new rules around where vape products can be used.
Health Canada is now looking to take regulations to another level by banning all flavoured vape products, with the exception of menthol, mint and tobacco flavours in an effort to dissuade minors from picking up the unhealthy habit.
The proposition is stirring up a lot of controversy, especially for those working in the vaping industry who say the move would ruin the overwhelming majority of vape shops.
“I’m worried as a business owner that I’m not going to have a business in the new year. I’d have to lay off 13 employees,” said Lethbridge’s One Stop Vape Mart owner Ross Morrell.
“If they do this, they’re going to cripple an entire industry, they’re going to put a lot of people out of work. This year has been hard on everybody, and we just don’t need to make things harder.”
CONCERNS ABOUT BAN
Morrell is one of many entrepreneurs and vape enthusiasts worried about the potential ban on flavours.
Calgary-based company Alt-Vape is now working to show Health Canada they’re eager to be part of the solution without forfeiting the vast majority of their inventory.
They’ve installed ID scanners in their stores and have a two-step age-gating process guarding the company’s website to weed out minors.
“If you’ve ever been to a nightclub in the last 15 years, you’ve experienced this technology,” said Alt-Vape CEO Danielle Chesney.
“We can show that we’re responsible business owners, we can show that we care about the community, we can continue to serve adult smokers.”
The other concern from those in the industry is that black-market sales could skyrocket, making vape juice that much more available to minors.
“They may prohibit vape shops from selling flavoured e-liquids, but the government can’t ban the sale of the actual flavours and this opens up people being able to develop these flavours at home and potentially sell these products from their home,” said Chesney.
“Would people be comfortable inhaling something that’s been made in someone’s bathtub in their house? That definitely is a problem and that will rear its head.”
Public consultation is ongoing until Thursday, September 2nd and Health Canada hopes to hear from as many people as possible before making a final decision.
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