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Competition watchdog writes province to support loosening Ontario liquor rules

Canada’s competition commissioner says he supports measures to increase competition in Ontario’s alcohol industry.

Matthew Boswell writes in an open letter to Ontario Finance Minister Rod Phillips that the competition bureau supports a special adviser’s recommendations, including the government working to authorize more retail outlets to sell alcohol.

He says the changes could give retailers equal opportunity to sell their products, encourage price competition and support proper wholesale pricing.

That, in turn, could lead to consumers having more products to choose from and lower prices.

Under the current system, a maximum of 450 grocery stores can sell alcohol, licensed retailers must charge identical prices for products, and bars and restaurants must purchase alcohol from the LCBO and the Beer Store at consumer prices rather than wholesale ones.

Boswell wrote a similar letter to B.C.’s attorney general in January, supporting recommendations aimed at increasing competition in that province’s alcohol sector made in a report commissioned by the provincial government.


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Younger consumers prefer c-stores to quench thirst

beverages-cold-colorful-1154756_1Younger consumers are feeding their beverage cravings at gas stations rather than supermarkets and drugstores, according to Boston-based GasBuddy’s 2019 C-Store Beverage Study.

According to the study, 51% surveyed said they purchase a beverage at a gas station C-store at least once a week, 20% of which do so daily. Convenience stores are the destination of choice for 165 million U.S. customers each day, resulting in $242 billion of in-store sales in 2018. The GasBuddy study confirmed that packaged beverages — which includes carbonated soft drinks, energy drinks, water, sports drinks, juices and teas — are impulse buys: 65% said their beverage purchases are typically unplanned before getting to the store.

“Today’s consumers—especially millennials—are buying more food on-the-go, including snacks, drinks and prepared meals,” said Frank Beard, convenience retail analyst at GasBuddy. “Efficiency is paramount in today’s society, and convenience stores are providing the desired ease and choice of options for an evolving customer. C-stores are also responding to a growing desire for healthier options.”

Additionally, the study revealed that younger consumers, aged 18-29, prefer C-stores over drug and grocery stores, are the least brand loyal, and most easily influenced by coupons/discounts. The survey also revealed how greatly product preferences vary between generations. Water is the No. 1 beverage product purchased at a gas station C-store by 18-29 year-olds, while carbonated soft drinks topped the list for the 30-44 and 45-60 age group.

To read the GasBuddy survey, click here.

 Originally published at Store Brands. 

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Chocolate satisfies with a balance of trend and tradition

 

Screen Shot 2019-08-13 at 2.47.08 PMCanadians’ love for chocolate is alive and well, as they visit convenience stores for old favourites, as well as new flavours and sizes to satisfy cravings for the “food of the gods.”

The latest figures from Nielsen Canada show that sales of chocolate in the convenience and gas channel in Canada for the year ended March 2, 2019 grew by 2% to $178 million. Sugarless chocolate led the growth (up 35%), followed by seasonal chocolate products (6%), and every day/sugared chocolate products (2%). Only every day seasonal chocolate showed a decline in sales (3%).

There are several new trends emerging in the chocolate category. Joel Gregoire, associate director of Mintel Canada Food and Drink Reports, says there’s been an evolution in chocolate confectionary with the introduction of larger-sized tablet chocolate bars, thins and more seasonal chocolates. 

“This can be interpreted as being a shift in the formats that Canadians are turning to for their chocolate fix and points to the importance of chocolate confections that are sold not just at the checkout line, but in other areas of the store,” he says, 

In addition, chocolate manufacturers can learn from the makers of alcohol beverages, who are infusing products with exotic new flavours and highlighting interesting twists, such as cask-aged bourbon and strawberry champagne. 

Ruby chocolate, for instance, is taking the industry’s colour palette beyond white, milk and dark. Barry Callebaut introduced ruby chocolate in September 2017, calling it “the biggest innovation in 80 years.” Artisan chocolate makers quickly embraced the flavour and now confectionery manufacturers are giving old favourites a new spin.

“The new ruby Kit Kat, made from the natural ruby cocoa bean, has a characteristic pink hue and unique flavour that consumers are raving about,” says Ryan Saunders, vice-president marketing, confectionary at Nestlé Canada.

Flavour infusion is also the secret to creating popular better-for-you products. “While white chocolate will always be an indulgence, there are ways to infuse elements of nutrition through superfood ingredients, such as chia seeds, matcha, honey lavender, turmeric, orange chunks and coconut into dark chocolate, which now has a well-established reputation for offering added antioxidants,” says Gregoire. 

In addition, convenience retailers have an opportunity to drive sales and satisfy customers’ desire for new experiences by mixing chocolate delights with other snacks, such as pretzels, popcorn and nuts.

“We know that indulgence is a key driver of food selection in the evening for a snack in front of the television, for example,” says Gregoire, adding the picture is more complex in the afternoon when people are looking for a boost. Convenience stores can answer all needs by offering snack kits with chocolate, as well as a solid mix of new format and entrenched brands “to satisfy conflicting wants of convenience, portability and energy.”

The chocolate category is abuzz with new tastes and trends, however old favourites still reign.Screen Shot 2019-08-13 at 2.46.52 PM

“While there are always fun and interesting new products in the category, nothing comes close to the old classics,” Saunders says. “While we sometimes get excited about what is new, if you don’t have the top pr
oducts within arms’ reach you’ll lose sales opportunities.  Retailers can maxmize sales and profit by continually understanding and responding to local and macro trends as they change and evolve.”


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Path to purchase for candy and snacks is changing

snacker-teaser_0With consumers snacking multiple times a day with no limitations as to what they constitute as a “snack,” and purchasing their snacks from multiple sources, the industry is in the midst of a revolution — one that won’t be short-lived, according to two IRI experts.

During an Eye-Opener Session at the recent 2019 Sweets and Snacks Expo, Sally Lyons Wyatt, executive vice president and practice leader, client insights, IRI, noted that today’s snackers are multidimensional and have different intentions for snacking.

The traditional paths to purchase — planned and impulse — are still important. However, there are two additional paths on their way to prominence: on-demand and experiential.

“The average consumer still snacks 2.7 times per day, and snacking three-plus times a day has increased in the last four years. … This is good news for people in this room,” Lyons Wyatt pointed out during the session entitled “State of the Industry: Snacks Rule Center Store.”

Consumers’ increase in snacking, as well as them choosing the four different pathways to purchase them, is resulting in multiple trends. Chief among them: holistic health progression.

“We’ve seen solid increases for products that boast relevant claims, such as functional and dietary: 57% of consumers want snacks that contain vitamins and minerals, while 49% view snacks as an important part of their eating plain,” Lyons Wyatt said. “If these products aren’t a part of your set, please make it so they are.”

Another trip-driver trend is snackers’ desire for plant-based options. This segment has experienced 19% dollar sales growth and a 20% increase in unit sales to $188 million in sales, thanks to these items’ tailwind and mobility, the IRI executive noted.

Still, at their core, snack buyers remain committed to three key attributes when it comes to what snack(s) they’ll purchase:

Flavor: A whopping 89% of consumers want a snack with a flavor they prefer, while 92% seek out products with a taste they enjoy.

Packaging: A product’s packaging not only says a lot about the brand that manufactured it, but also about the retailer who carries it. Product packaging communicates to consumers what they’re looking for in snacks, such as transparency and sustainability, as well as a brand story.

Influencers: More than a quarter of consumers (37%) are influenced at checkout by product assortment, signage, price and available offers through a retailer’s loyalty or rewards program.

MOVEMENT IN CONFECTIONERY

Along with the snacking industry, the confectionery business is experiencing its own set of changes.

 

Three key confectionery themes emerged last year: experiential (think indulgent, sensorial and exciting), expectation (think flavor, texture and familiarity) and simplicity (think healthy, convenient and natural). Driven by these themes, 2018 was defined by expansive growth in confectionery products that highlighted such attributes as:

  • Non-GMO Project verified
  • Organic
  • Gluten free
  • Fair trade

Originally published at Convenience Store News. 


Altria shares fall on weaker outlook for cigarettes

Screen Shot 2019-07-31 at 5.48.30 PMShares of Altria Group fell last week, as the tobacco company predicted steeper declines for cigarettes in coming years.

The Richmond, Virginia-based company reported second-quarter earnings of roughly $2 billion, or $1.07 per share. Earnings, adjusted for asset impairment costs and non-recurring costs, were $1.10 per share.

The results matched Wall Street expectations, according to analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research.

But company executives forecast a bigger drop for cigarette demand in years ahead, with annual volume declines between 4% and 6% through 2023. That’s slightly greater than previous expectations of 4% to 5%.

Altria shares fell $1.81, or 3.6%, to $48.50 last Tuesday.

Altria, the maker of Marlboro cigarettes and Copenhagen chew, has been working to shift its business away from traditional tobacco products amid steady declines. The smoking rate has been falling for decades amid smoking bans, higher taxes and public health efforts urging smokers to quit and discouraging young people from ever starting.

In April the company won federal approval in the U.S. to sell its heat-not-burn cigarette alternative, IQOS, which will go on sale in September. The company has also bought a 35% stake in the vaping juggernaut Juul, which has come under scrutiny for its popularity with teenagers.

Altria CEO Howard Willard said some of the declines in cigarettes are due to more smokers switching to Juul and other electronic cigarettes, battery-powered devices that vaporize a flavoured nicotine solution.

“We believe this reflects both increased availability of satisfying e-vapour products that began mid-year 2018 and higher levels of exclusive e-vapour use,” Willard told analysts.

The owner of Philip Morris USA, the nation’s largest cigarette maker, said revenue increased 5% to $6.62 billion, mainly driven by higher prices. Its adjusted revenue was $5.19 billion, topping Street forecasts. Five analysts surveyed by Zacks expected $5.05 billion.

The company reaffirmed its full-year earnings in the range of $4.15 to $4.27 per share.


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Auxly Cannabis signs $123M deal with tobacco giant Imperial Brands

UnknownImperial Brands is the latest multinational company to step into the Canadian pot industry, signing a $123-million investment deal with Auxly Cannabis Group that includes a research and development partnership and gives the Vancouver-headquartered firm the global licences to the British tobacco giant’s vaping technology.

The deal announced July 25th would give London-based Imperial Brands a 19.9% stake through a debenture convertible into Auxly equity, with a conversion price of 81 cents per share.

That is 11% higher than Auxly’s share price of 73 cents on the TSX Venture Exchange July 24th. Shares of Auxly, which has a portfolio of cannabis brands and products, soared as much as 22% on July 25th to 89 cents apiece.

“The strategic partnership really enhances our ability to execute on our business strategy and accelerates our growth plan,” Auxly’s president Hugo Alves said in an interview. “So we are taking in a significant capital injection at a premium to our share price in a difficult market.”

The additional capital will fuel Auxly’s plans to roll out next-generation cannabis products, such as vaporizers, when legalized in Canada later this year, Alves added.

Imperial, whose tobacco brands include Winston and Davidoff cigarettes, has increasingly been focused on e-cigarettes and vaporizers, which are seen as a safer alternative to smoking, amid a shift in consumer preferences.

Imperial’s chief development officer Matthew Phillips said diversifying its portfolio with this investment in Auxly provides the tobacco company with further options for future growth, and builds on last year’s investment in Oxford Cannabinoid Technologies.

“Auxly’s unique assets and capabilities, including strong science and product development credentials, make it an ideal partner for Imperial in the legal Canadian cannabis market,” he said in a news release.

Imperial will have the right to convert the debt into stock at any time during a three-year period.

If, at the end of the term Imperial has not converted, the debenture will be repayable in full.

In addition to the funds and technology licences, Auxly will get access to Imperial’s Nerudia vapour innovation business and become Imperial’s exclusive global partner for future cannabis products.

In return, the British tobacco firm will designate one out of the five directors on Auxly’s board plus one non-voting observer. As well, the chair of Imperial’s product stewardship and health group will sit on Auxly’s safety board.

The deal is expected to close in the third quarter, subject to approval from the TSX Venture Exchange.

Imperial is the latest consumer goods company to make its foray into pot, in a bid to diversify their offerings as consumer and political winds shift toward a growing acceptance of cannabis use.

In December, Marlboro maker Altria Group Inc. announced a $2.4 billion investment in Canadian cannabis producer Cronos Group Inc. to acquire a 45% ownership stake, and the option to up its stake later to 55%.

And last year, Nanaimo, B.C.-based cannabis company Tilray Inc. struck an agreement to collaborate with Sandoz AG, part of the Novartis pharmaceutical Group, on medical pot products.

Alcohol giant Constellation Brands last year upped its initial $245 million investment in Canopy Growth Corp. by an additional $5 billion, giving it a 38% stake in the Smiths Falls, Ont.-based cannabis company.

Auxly’s chairman and chief executive Chuck Rifici co-founded Tweed Inc., which later became Canopy.

Ryan Tomkins, an analyst with Jefferies, said the Imperial-Auxly deal was a positive one.

“Although the move is relatively small, we view it as sensible,” he said in a note to clients. “IMB gets possible 20% ownership of a Canadian (licensed producer) in a rapidly growing sector at a good price.”

Alves said the deal with Imperial was the culmination of roughly five and a half months of discussions.

The transaction comes at a tumultuous time for the cannabis industry as a high-profile scandal rocks the nascent sector.

Licensed cannabis producer CannTrust Holdings Inc. is under investgation by Health Canada, which says it discovered during a recent inspection of its Ontario greenhouse that the company was illegally cultivating cannabis. Its shares on the Toronto Stock Exchange have lost roughly half their value since CannTrust disclosed Health Canada’s findings on July 8.

Also last month, Canopy’s board of directors ousted co-founder Bruce Linton from his role as co-chief executive, days after Constellation Brands’ had expressed dissatisfaction with the cannabis company’s latest earnings.

Last month, Toronto-based licensed producer The Flowr Corporation withdrew its plans to list on the Nasdaq, citing “prevailing market conditions.”

Alves said the CannTrust probe did not impact Auxly’s negotiations with Imperial, which did “very extensive due diligence,” he added.

“It wasn’t an issue in our transaction… a big portion of our founding team are regulatory experts.”

 


Tips for adjusting to changing tobacco trends

Cigarettes Generic Lg_100517The tobacco industry is changing at a rapid pace. Cigarette sales are declining year after year, while vape and smokeless products have been on the rise. Now, there are new products out there that fit into the growing “ANDS” (alternative nicotine delivery systems) category, such as nicotine toothpicks, pouches and dip (no tobacco leaf present in any of these).

Modernizing categories and planograms will be a necessity for convenience retail chains looking to hold onto revenue.

While consumers are quitting cigarettes in droves, most would agree they are not quitting nicotine. Many consumers switched from cigarettes to ENDS (electronic nicotine delivery systems) such as Logic, blu and Juul. Other consumers have moved into smokeless tobacco products such as dip and spitless snus.

The rise of smokeless tobacco options and ENDS products in the past 10 years is a clear indicator that consumers aren’t quitting their nicotine altogether, but instead they have become open to finding their nicotine in other products.

Some of these products I like to call “ANDS” products. These are non-combustible alternative nicotine delivery systems that would otherwise not be able to be categorized into current and obsolete product groupings. ANDS are a fairly new subcategory of other tobacco products (OTP) and are increasingly gaining customers. People are tending to move away from tobacco leaf products, both combustible and non-combustible, and move to products that deliver nicotine.

Nicotine toothpicks and pouches are very similar. Both are flavored oral nicotine products that did away with the tobacco leaf. The toothpicks are infused with nicotine and food-grade flavorings, while the pouches are tea bags that are filled with powdered nicotine and food-grade flavorings.

Another ANDS product is nicotine dip that is made using mint leaves instead of tobacco leaves.  Nicotine dips are made with nicotine applied to chopped mint leaves. They can be used just like traditional tobacco dips like Skoal, Copenhagen or Grizzly.

ARE ‘ANDS’ RIGHT FOR YOUR BUSINESS?

So, should your business sell ANDS? It all comes down to whether your convenience store or chain is positioned to make the investment to secure customers for the present and future.

In discussions with CEOs of many of these ANDS manufacturers, they say consumers are constantly asking them where they can buy the product. Store owners should embrace this and use it to their advantage. A retailer can acquire new customers just by carrying a product that is newer to distribution. This is especially true when the products being considered have already started to take sales away from cigarettes, moist snuff and ENDS products.

By adding new SKUs to their tobacco categories, retailers will need to eliminate others or increase the real estate space for their tobacco products section as a whole.

When choosing new product lines in the ANDS category, a category manager should evaluate a manufacturer or a brand based on such factors as sell-through, branding, customer experience, customer adoption, marketing, and point-of-sale (POS) merchandising support.

Behind-the-scenes items that are also crucial toward the long-term success of the store(s) and the brands they carry include Food and Drug Administration (FDA) compliance, quality control, shelf life, liability insurance and vendor/retailer support.

We already know that Juul has emerged as the leader in the ENDS category. Which ANDS products are in line to solidify a spot on your shelf? Which ANDS manufacturers and brands meet the qualifications stated in the previous paragraph?

With sell-through and compliance being the most important direct and indirect items of importance, there are certain brands and products leading the pack on this newly paved road. Here are three types of ANDS that hold promise for the convenience channel:

Nicotine Pouches

Nicotine pouches have created a nice following throughout the country — both online and in stores. Nicotine pouches function just like spitless snus.

Nicotine Toothpicks

While nicotine toothpicks might seem like a new idea, they have been around since 2013. When merchandised and branded properly, nicotine toothpicks see sell-through. They also function as an upsell that increases a store’s average order value.  Toothpicks are one of the few products being used by smokers, dippers and vapers alike.

Nicotine Dip

Nicotine dip is another product making its way into stores. I like the idea. Why have tobacco leaves pressed up against your gums when you can have mint leaves and nicotine instead? I can see these products leading to the abolishment of traditional tobacco leaf dips.

In the end, consumers want to feel empowered to make a choice. Nobody goes to the ice cream parlour that only carries three flavours when the parlour across the street has 15 flavours plus 10 different topping options.

With the guidelines and requirements mentioned earlier, choose one to three items from each of the three ANDS subcategories (pouches, toothpicks and dip). Find products that aren’t selling well on your shelves and remove them.

The way I see it, ANDS are the future of the category. The status quo has changed. Non-combustible ANDS products should be part of your offering in order to solidify your store’s ability to sustain long-term growth and success.

By: Evan Grossman is an entrepreneur and industry advocate. In 2013, he founded Pixotine Products, launching Pixotine Nicotine Toothpicks. Before founding Pixotine Products, Grossman co-founded Trans World Jets in 2011, a jet charter consulting and contracting business.

Originally published at Convenience Store News. 


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Juul Labs piloting connected device in Canada

Screen Shot 2019-07-30 at 12.18.17 PMOn the back of opening its first retail store last week, Juul Labs Canada is debuting its new Juul C1, the company’s connected device, which includes features that allow users to monitor their nicotine usage, provide access restrictions to prevent unauthorized use and find their Juul device if it is lost.

“Our retail store will be a place where we can speak directly with adult smokers about our products, including our connected device, as they look to switch from combustible cigarettes to a less harmful alternative,” said Michael Nederhoff, general manager, Juul Labs Canada, said in a release.

The new Juul C1 connected device can be paired via Bluetooth to a new mobile application. The app is being piloted in Canada to explore and refine its functionalities. The connected device is available on Juul.ca to Juul online account holders with Android smartphones and for sale at the new retail store.

The device, when paired with the app, will include a usage monitor that provides adult smokers with greater visibility into their usage, allowing them to monitor in real-time the number of puffs they take daily, weekly and monthly. The connected device will also provide access restrictions at the user level to prevent unauthorized use and provides adult smokers with the ability to find their Juul device if it is lost.

“As a company, we are always looking to build on our product portfolio to reach a broader range of smokers, while limiting appeal to youth,” said Nederhoff. “We believe the connected device will provide current adult smokers with features they will find valuable. Based on feedback, we plan to refine and enhance the functionality of the app to further improve the user experience.”

The pilot program will continue to run over the coming weeks. JUUL Labs Canada will evaluate feedback and determine whether to expand the device and app further in the country.


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Juul opens first North American store in Toronto

UnknownE-cigarette maker Juul is opening its first retail store in Canada .

The Juul store in Toronto’s west-end, which opened to customers Monday, marks the California-based company’s first brick-and-mortar location in North America.

The stores opens mid mounting concern about the rise of teen vaping. Upon entering, Juul says all visitors will be asked to provide identification to prove they meet Ontario’s legal age of 19 to purchase vaping products before they can pass through the clouded glass doors concealing the offerings from public view.

Those who gain entry will find Juul’s devices and cartridges laid out on tables in the sleek showroom style of an Apple store. Patrons can interact with the devices, but not test them, because vaping is prohibited indoors.

At a media preview this week, Michael Nederhoff, general manager of Juul Labs in Canada, said the store was designed to be an “educational venue” for adult smokers looking to learn about vaping.

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But as Juul has emerged as Canada’s leading vaping brand, critics say the company is at risk of creating a new generation of nicotine addicts in light of recent research suggesting that the prevalence of teenage vaping has nearly doubled.

In May 2018, Ottawa formally legalized vaping, opening the door for international vaping brands such as Juul to enter the Canadian market.

Since then, Juul has captured a 78% share of Canada’s vape market, with its products available at more than 13,000 vape shops and convenience stores across the country, said Nederhoff.

Nick Kadysh, Juul’s director of government relations, said the company sees youth vaping as “completely unacceptable” and has taken steps to prevent its products from getting into the wrong hands.

He cited efforts such as using third-party age verification for online sales, and sending secret shoppers to check roughly 150 stores per month to make sure they’re carding customers and following Juul’s restrictions on bulk purchases. He said retailers who don’t comply may either be “blacklisted” or reported to Health Canada.

But David Hammond, a public health professor at the University of Waterloo, said Juul and other e-cigarette makers need to go further to stem the 74% surge in vaping by Canadian teens that his research suggests.

Hammond led a study published in the British Medical Journal in June based on online surveys of Canadians aged 16 to 19 in 2017 and 2018.

The researchers found that the number of Canadian teens who said they had vaped in the last month increased to 14.6% in 2018 from 8.4% in 2017.

Hammond said the 2018 surveys straddled the month before and after Juul hit stores in Canada, and within weeks of becoming available, the brand had surged to become the third most popular among Canadian teens.

He said the brand’s soaring sales in Canada are particularly alarming in light of trends in the U.S., where researchers found the increase in Juul use accounted for more than two-thirds of the overall rise in youth vaping.

Last week, Juul executives were called before U.S. Congress to field questions from lawmakers about whether the company tried to market its products to youth.

House members pointed to internal documents indicating that Juul planned to push its products on social media and offered funding to schools for anti-vaping education in a program that was quashed after the company learned that big tobacco had backed similar anti-smoking efforts decades earlier.

Juul executives in Canada said neither of those strategies were attempted in Canada, and the company has even advocated for Ottawa to ban social media marketing of vaping products.

Earlier this year, Health Canada proposed new measures to ban the promotion of e-cigarettes in public places, stores and media where young people are likely to encounter them, including point-of-sale advertisements.

Kadysh said the restriction would hinder Juul’s ability to reach adult smokers when they’re buying cigarettes at their local convenience store and encourage them to switch to what is believed to be a less harmful alternative.

For Hammond, this reluctance speaks volumes about Juul’s commitment to preventing youth vaping.

“I think it is (disingenuous) at best for any company to suggest that those types of ads don’t reach kids when it is literally inches from the candy,” he said.

Last month, San Francisco banned the sale of e-cigarettes in a bid to curb underage use. But Hammond said he doesn’t think a similar prohibition would be feasible or desirable in Canada.

“We can actually control these products more by having them regulated than just trying to push them under the blanket,” he said.

“I think it would be a shame if we had to ban them outright because of their potential to help with adult smokers, but we need to find some way of reducing access to kids for sure.”

The retail store will sell JUUL C1, the company’s connected device, which includes features that allow users to monitor their nicotine usage, provide access restrictions to prevent unauthorized use and find their JUUL device if it is lost.

The JUUL C1 connected device can be paired via Bluetooth to a new mobile application. The app is being piloted in Canada to explore and refine its functionalities.

The device, when paired with the app, will include a usage monitor that provides adult smokers with greater visibility into their usage, allowing them to monitor in real-time the number of puffs they take daily, weekly and monthly. The connected device will also provide access restrictions at the user level to prevent unauthorized use and provides adult smokers with the ability to find their JUUL device if it is lost.

“As a company, we are always looking to build on our product portfolio to reach a broader range of smokers, while limiting appeal to youth,” said Nederhoff. “We believe the connected device will provide current adult smokers with features they will find valuable. Based on feedback, we plan to refine and enhance the functionality of the app to further improve the user experience.”

The pilot program will continue to run over the coming weeks. JUUL Labs Canada will evaluate feedback and determine whether to expand the device and app further in the country.

With files from Michelle Warren


Scheer’s pledge to review new Food Guide challenged by health community

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer is facing criticism from nutrition experts after he pledged last week to review the new Canada Food Guide should the Tories win power this fall.

Scheer, who spoke at an annual meeting of the Dairy Farmers of Canada in Saskatoon on Wednesday, says the process to craft the new version of the document designed to assist Canadians in meeting their dietary needs was flawed and that his party wants to ensure the guide reflects what “science tells us.”

The Dietitians of Canada tweeted that Canada’s new Food Guide is most definitely based on science, adding it encourages people to eat vegetables, fruits, whole grains and protein foods, including dairy.

The Canadian Digestive Health Foundation says Scheer’s comments were not backed up or founded by any scientific data, adding it supports the current direction of Canada’s Food Guide.

An overhauled version of the document was publicly released in January and did away with food groups and portion sizes, focusing instead on broader guidelines including eating more plant-based protein and drinking more water.

Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor issued a statement that accuses Scheer of “spreading lies” about the guide and says it was enthusiastically welcomed by Canadians and celebrated as a world-leading document.