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New vaping rules are ‘punishing’ neighbourhood stores and do little to curb youth vaping: CICC

shutterstock_1373776301According to Health Canada, more than 75% of specialty vape shops are selling and promoting products that violate federal laws, including the sale of flavours, such as cake, cookies and candy, designed to appeal to youth.

In an unsettling feature published on November 16th, The Globe and Mail reported that vaping companies are “selling and promoting products that violate federal law, according to (Health Canada) spokeswoman Maryse Durette. The most common violations were promoting child-friendly flavours and using testimonials to promote products. Under federal law, testimonials include any promotions that feature people, characters or animals.”

Screen Shot 2019-11-20 at 2.01.10 PMThe Convenience Industry Council of Canada (CICC) responded this week, emphasizing the important role c-stores can play in ensuring that vaping products don’t end up in the hands of minors, but still remain a viable alternative for adults smokers. that these findings call into question the wisdom of restricting

“Convenience stores have responsibly retailed lottery and other age-restricted products for decades. Vape shops, on the other hand, have no track record of refusing sales to minors,” Anne Kothawala, CICC president and CEO, said in a release, adding that specialty vape stores are “largely unregulated” and a “relatively recent phenomena” in Canada.

“Many of these vape shops started selling nicotine vapes before they were legal in Canada. Upon this foundation of criminality, they are building predatory businesses that sell hundreds of flavours designed to hook youth, like bubble gum and candy cane,” said Kothawala. “At convenience stores, we only sell federally approved vapes with a narrow selection of flavours, all of which meet Health Canada’s strict requirement that they do not appeal to youth.”

The CICC points to mystery shopping tests conducted by the Ontario government in 2018 for legal tobacco sales, which show an underage sales prevention success rate of 96%.

According to the Federal Government’s Canadian Tobacco, Alcohol and Drug Survey, almost 50% of all youth who have tried a vaping product borrowed, shared or bought them from a friend or relative, while 23% purchased  from a specialty vape shop and 12% purchased them from a convenience store.

According to the CICC, “With growing evidence that vaping is a less harmful alternative to smoking and a potentially helpful tool in achieving the public health goal of smoking cessation, the convenience store industry wants to be a partner in helping provide more adult smokers with access to these products. But governments have to decide whether they are actually serious about helping more people quit smoking.”

In British Columbia, the provincial government recently announced it would restrict the vape flavours convenience stores can sell. Other provinces are considering similar moves.

The concern, according to CICC, is this will send youth to specialty vape shops that purport to be “adult only.”

“If the steps being taken in B.C. were to be emulated across the country, it would be a sad day for public health,” warns Kothawala. “Appropriate flavours are essential in encouraging adult smokers to try vaping. With the vast majority of smokers already purchasing their legal cigarettes at convenience stores, these vape flavours need to be available at convenience stores. It is unreasonable to expect that adult smokers will seek out far flung vape shops with restricted hours. On the other hand, we already know from the data that youth will. Furthermore, in some more remote communities, the local convenience store is the only option for adult consumers.

“Many vape shops are clearly breaking the law, yet the B.C. government wants to give them a helping hand, while punishing the neighbourhood stores who obey the law every single day. Convenience stores are frustrated with these discriminatory policies, and we have every right to be,” added Kothawala.“We need evidence-based decision making and what we are getting from B.C. is the complete opposite.”

CICC welcomes Ontario budget actions that support convenience store industry

Screen Shot 2019-04-12 at 3.13.40 PMThe new Convenience Industry Council of Canada (CICC) is applauding actions taken by the Ontario government in its maiden budget, which it says will result in red tape reductions, lower business costs and put consumers first across Ontario.

In a statement, the Council also welcomed measures designed to address regulatory burdens in the small business sector and spur growth and investment across the province.

“Ontario’s beverage alcohol policies are moving into the 21st century.”

“Small businesses welcome the message in today’s budget: Ontario’s beverage alcohol policies are moving into the 21st century,” says Anne Kothawala, president & CEO of the CICC. “As the organization representing convenience store retailers, distributors and other members of the supply chain, we are excited to help make expanded beverage alcohol sales in our Ontario stores a reality.

“We know consumers want expanded beverage alcohol sales; 74 percent of alcohol consumers say they support expanded sales,” she says, adding this was one of the findings in a new poll conducted by Abacus Data for the CICC.

The CICC highlighted a number of measures in Ontario’s budget, which it says are designed to reduce red tape and costs for businesses, including:

  • a reduction in WSIB premiums;
  • accelerating the 25 percent red tape reduction to 2020;
  • holding the minimum wage to $14/hour and tying future increases to inflation;
  • reaffirming its commitment to cutting the small business tax rate.

The Council says other measures in Budget 2019 also bode well for the convenience store industry, including breaking down interprovincial trade barriers between Ontario and Quebec.

“Our retailers have considerable experience in Quebec, and we are pleased to see Ontario’s leadership in working with our neighbouring province to grow trade,” says Kothawala.

Lastly, the industry welcomed the commitment to press the federal government to legalize single sport wagering in Canada.

“We commend this government for treating adults like adults and trusting our retailers to responsibly sell lottery and beverage alcohol to our adult customers,” says Kothawala , adding: “Overall, our sector is very pleased with today’s budget which recognizes the importance of our businesses and the contributions we make to communities across the province. We look forward to working with the government in the coming weeks and months to ensure small businesses continue to be heard and that these policies come to fruition as quickly as possible.”