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PHUs have ‘discretion’ when enforcing Ontario’s new vape rules: Ministry

C-stores not in compliance run the risk of being charged

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It’s fair to say the messaging around Ontario’s new vaping regulations is confusing for operators and other industry stakeholders. As, CSNC has reported, implementation of the new regulations kicked in July 1, after being delayed from May 1.

READ: Ontario sticks with July 1 for new vaping rules

Industry advocates had asked for more time, citing concerns about the pressure operators were under to keep their businesses up and running as essential services during the pandemic panic, as well as ongoing need for social distancing between vendors and operators.

READ: Ontario agrees to delay enforcement of new vaping rules

The Ministry of Health agreed to focus on initial education, rather than in enforcement and in a statement last month said: “The Ministry expects businesses to continue to make best efforts to comply with these upcoming regulatory changes despite the circumstances and is not delaying the implementation of these amendments. The Ministry is however encouraging PHUs (public health units) to work with retailers to ensure compliance by providing and prioritizing education and awareness in the first few months of implementation. Consideration should be given to employing this approach until December 31, 2020.”

However, with PHUs in charge of oversight, it is important for c-store operators to note that this “consideration” will differ across the province.

In a new memo (printed in its entirety below), Dianne Alexander, director Health Promotion and Prevention Policy and Programs Branch, Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, Public Health Ministry of Health, attempts to clear up any confusion,  writing: “This means that SFOA inspectors maintain their discretion to lay charges for non-compliance with the new regulatory requirements where circumstances warrant.”

This latest statement appears to contradict the earlier messaging from the Ministry, which talked about leeway until December 31.

The bottom line is that c-stores are responsible for compliance and run the risk of facing charges at the discretion of their local PHU. With that in mind, it’s worth stressing that, as of July 1, operators are no longer permitted to sell:

  • Various flavoured vapour products, such as mango (c-stores can only sell tobacco, menthol and mint flavoured vapour products);
  • Vapour products with high nicotine concentrations (greater than 20 mg/ml).
From the Ministry of Health:
Dear Industry Stakeholders,
The Ministry of Health (‘ministry’) has recently been made aware of communications circulating among retailers from industry representatives about the implementation and enforcement of the Smoke-Free Ontario Act, 2017 (SFOA, 2017) regulatory amendments that came into effect on July 1, 2020. The ministry takes this opportunity to provide clarity to ensure that the industry representatives and retailers are aware of the expectations for compliance with the regulatory amendments.
As previously communicated, the ministry is aware of the impact that COVID-19 is having on the normal operation of businesses. However, despite these circumstances, the Ontario government is not delaying the implementation of the regulatory amendments to the SFOA, 2017 that came into force on July 1, 2020. This means that, as of July 1, 2020, businesses are expected to comply with the regulatory amendments and Public Health Unit SFOA inspectors will be responsible for assessing compliance.
As with any requirement under the SFOA, 2017, SFOA inspectors will employ a progressive enforcement approach to achieve compliance with the new regulatory amendments through a balance of education, inspection and the use of warnings and graduated charging options to reflect the frequency and severity of non-compliance.
The ministry acknowledges that the timeline for achieving compliance may be impacted by the reduced or limited operational capacity of retailers during this time. Therefore, the ministry has asked SFOA inspectors to first prioritize education and awareness of the new requirements to support compliance among businesses. The ministry is encouraging SFOA inspectors to work collaboratively with non-specialty retailers to ensure prohibited vapour products are removed from stores, which may include returning flavoured vapour products and high nicotine-containing vapour products to suppliers (e.g., manufacturers and wholesalers) in order to comply with the new SFOA, 2017 regulatory requirements.
SFOA inspectors are provincial offences officers under the Provincial Offences Act and exercise independence in their approach to enforcing the SFOA, 2017. This means that SFOA inspectors maintain their discretion to lay charges for non-compliance with the new regulatory requirements where circumstances warrant.
The ministry hopes this information has been helpful and provides clarity with respect to enforcement of the new regulatory amendments. The ministry requests that you clarify the expectations around compliance with your respective retail partners as soon as possible.
Dianne
Dianne Alexander
Director, Health Promotion and Prevention Policy and Programs Branch
Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, Public Health
Ministry of Health

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New vaping rules regulating sale of flavours in effect this week in Ontario

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New rules restricting the sale of most flavoured vape products have come into effect in Ontario.

The rules mean most of the products can now only be sold at specialty vape and cannabis retail stores, which serve customers 19 and older.

Products with menthol, mint and tobacco flavours are exempt from the new regulations, which came into effect July 1.

READ: Ontario agrees to delay enforcement of new vaping rules 

The regulations also mean vapour products with nicotine levels higher than 20 milligrams will be limited to specialty stores.

Those shops will also no longer be allowed to have indoor displays that are visible from outside.

Health Minister Christine Elliott unveiled the long-anticipated package of measures in February after expressing concern for months about youth vaping.

The measures banned the promotion of vaping products in convenience stores and gas stations earlier this year.

LATEST NEWS: PHU’s have ‘discretion’ when enforcing Ontario’s vaping rules: Ministry


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Ontario sticks with July 1 for new vaping rules

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Despite ongoing requests for an extension, Ontario is moving ahead with the July 1 deadline for new amendments to the Smoke-Free Ontario Act, which brings with it more restrictive rules for c-store operators when it comes to the sale of vaping products.

These changes, part of the Government of Ontario’s efforts to curb youth vaping, were announced in January and were initially to come into play May 1. However, as governments and retailers dealt with the ramifications of COVID-19 on business and health, they were delayed until July 1.

The new amendments:

  • Restrict the sale of flavoured vapour products to specialty vape stores and licensed cannabis retail stores. C-stores can only sell tobacco, menthol and mint flavoured vapour products;
  • Restrict the sale of vapour products with high nicotine concentrations (greater than 20 mg/ml) to specialty vape stores.

Both the Convenience Industry Council of Canada and the Ontario Convenience Stores Association were advocating to further delay the implementation of the new regulations, citing the efforts by c-store to adjust to the new normal of operating during the pandemic and the ongoing need for distancing. In an effort to comply with safety measures, many vendors are not visiting stores right now.

However, in a memo from Smoke Free Ontario addressed to industry stakeholders Monday, the Ministry of Health indicated it was going ahead with the July 1 deadline, while also making efforts to recognize the challenges.

“The government of Ontario is aware that COVID-19 is having an impact on the normal operation of businesses. Retailers that have been closed may require more time to adjust their business practices to comply with the new regulatory amendments,” Dianne Alexander, director Health Promotion and Prevention Policy and Programs Branch, Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, Public Health Ministry of Health, wrote in the memo. “With these circumstances in mind, the Ministry has asked Public Health Unit (PHU) Smoke-Free Ontario Act (SFOA) inspectors to work with businesses to ensure compliance by first prioritizing education and raising awareness of the new requirements.”

“It doesn’t appear that the Ministry of Health or SFOA are considering an extension to vape regulations as requested by many groups, including the OCSA,” said president and CEO Dave Bryans, noting that while tobacco inspectors may show some leniency, past experience dictates this will not be for a long period of time. “I suggest a quick rationalization of flavours and strengths over the next two weeks to minimize exposure for the business, while awaiting credits for these products.”

As the government moves ahead with the new regulations, it says it has developed resources to help businesses understand the changes—these include a training guide for retailers and links to additional information on the Ministry’s website. C-stores are advised to contact their local PHU for information to access these tools.

CICC president and CEO Anne Kothawala is calling on the government to provide more clarification, especially when it comes to a drop-dead compliance date. She cites a lack of coordination and harmonization between already already busy PHUs and is concerned the lack of consistency in terms of enforcement will create an uneven playing field among retailers and manufacturers in different regions.

In addition, CICC maintains that convenience stores, which already sell age-restricted products, such as tobacco, alcohol and lottery, are in an ideal position to sell vapes and accessories.

“C-stores are being singled out with no factual basis,” Kothawala says, adding the new rules do little to address the youth vaping crisis and put more power in the hands of vape store operators. “In terms of age compliance and testing, we have the best track record.”

Officially, c-stores will have until July 1 to sell out or return to suppliers their existing inventory of higher nicotine and flavours that fall outside the new regulations.

Last week, the Federal Government announced it was postponing the enforcement of regulations regarding packaging of vape products in Canada to January 1, 2021 from July 1, 2020. The move gives the industry a clear deadline for compliance and time to make the necessary changes to its operations. It was expected that that Provincial Government would follow suit.

READ: Ottawa delays new vape packaging regulations.


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Ottawa delays new vape packaging regulations

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Ottawa is postponing the enforcement of regulations regarding packaging of vape products in Canada to January 1, 2021 from July 1, 2020.

In a statement, the Convenience Industry Council of Canada said that, since the start of the pandemic, it has been advocating for the pause of non-essential regulations: “Our key message to government is that the health and safety of our staff and customers would be compromised if we had to undertake extensive inventory changes. We are also reiterating that now is not the time to bring in new regulations that will take time away from the increased burden of complying with safety and sanitization procedures.”

In December 2019, Health Canada proposed to ban advertising of vaping products in spaces where young people can see them in a bid to rein in the rise of underage e-cigarette use.

Minister Patty Hajdu put forward new rules Dec. 19 designed to prohibit vaping promotion in specialty shops, businesses and online platforms frequented by youth.

She also outlined requirements that vaping packages feature health warnings and be child-resistant, as well as plans to place limits on nicotine content in vaping liquids to reduce the risk of accidental child poisoning.

The move followed several months of consultations examining measures to restrict advertising for e-cigarettes in the face of growing evidence that vaping has taken off among teens.

In June 2019, the Minister of Health launched public consultations on proposed regulations that would set out new and updated requirements for the labelling and containers of vaping products. The proposed Vaping Products Labelling and Packaging Regulations would require that all vaping substances be labelled with a list of ingredients. In addition, vaping products containing nicotine would be required to display a standardized nicotine concentration statement and a health warning about the addictiveness of nicotine.

The new rules would have come into effect next month. However, convenience industry, like many others, is in the midst of updating operating procedures and, in some cases, dealing with revenue hits in the face of COVID-19.

The delay gives those in the industry time to focus on the essential work of ensuring a safe retail environment with proper social distancing protocols in the ongoing battle against COVID-19.

Industry lobbying Ontario for regulation extension

Ottawa’s announcement comes on the heels of Ontario’s Ministry of Health announcing in April it was hitting pause on a series of new vaping regulations that were to come into effect on May 1.

The implementation of the new regulations, which have far-reaching effects on the convenience sector, were delayed until July 1, with an eye on giving all parties time to make adjustments, while also dealing with the business impacts of COVID-19.

At the time, Dianne Alexander, director Health Promotion and Prevention Policy and Programs Branch, Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, Public Health Ministry of Health, said: “The government understands that some of the proposed amendments would require certain businesses to remove inventory from their stores, which may involve contact with others. Providing more time to implement would allow owners and employees of affected businesses to practice physical distancing.”

However, as c-stores continue to adjust to the new normal and the need for distancing continues, the industry is lobbying to further delay the implementation of Ontario’s new regulations, which  would:

  • Restrict the retail sale of flavoured vapour products to Specialty Vape Stores and Cannabis Retail Stores, except for menthol, mint and tobacco flavours.
  • Restrict the retail sale of high nicotine vapour products (>20mg/ml) to Specialty Vape Stores.

Unless a new agreement is reached, c-stores will have until July 1 to sell out or return to suppliers their existing inventory of higher nicotine and flavours that fall outside the new regulations.

Keep an eye on our website and social media for updates on this evolving situation.

UPDATE READ: Ontario agrees to delay enforcement of new vaping rules

With files from The Canadian Press.


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Alberta introduces legislation to regulate vaping, ban e cigarettes for minors

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Alberta has introduced new legislation on vaping that would include a ban on anyone under 18 from using e-cigarettes.

Health Minister Tyler Shandro says there is mounting evidence on the health risks of vaping and statistics show more young people in Alberta are indulging.

“Strong action needs to be taken to address significant increases in youth vaping,” Shandro said Tuesday prior to introducing the bill in the house.

Shandro’s ministry says that in the last five years, vaping rates among high school students has risen to 30% from eight. It also says evidence continues to show health risks, including lung damage and nicotine poisoning.

Alberta is the only province without vaping legislation.

“No one fully knows yet all the health harms from vaping, but the recent emergence of vaping-associated lung illnesses and deaths is a warning,” said Shandro.

“Vaping is not a harmless behaviour without short- or long-term consequences.”

If the bill passes, there would be restrictions _ matching those in place for traditional tobacco products _ on displaying and promoting vaping products in stores. Speciality vape stores would be exempt.

The province said it does not intend to ban or restrict flavours for e-cigarettes, but the bill proposes cabinet be allowed to make such restrictions once the law is passed and proclaimed.

The legislation would also expand the list of places where traditional smoking and vaping would be banned _ adding playgrounds, sports fields, skateboard and bicycle parks, and public outdoor pools _ to further avoid exposing youth to products and second-hand smoke.

Vaping would also be banned in places where smoking is already forbidden, such as hospitals, post-secondary schools and stores where pharmacies are located.

If the bill passes, the new rules are expected to take effect sometime this fall.

The legislation follows a review of vaping that began last year. The government said 250 people were consulted and another 9,500 provided online comments.

NDP health critic David Shepherd said the legislation is necessary and sends the right message, but it could be improved.

Shepherd wants flavoured vaping products sold only in age-restricted specialty stores.

“We know that flavouring is a way of attracting young users,” said Shepherd.

The issues of flavoured products remains up for debate.

Nova Scotia recently banned the sale of flavoured vaping products. Prince Edward Island has indicated it plans to do the same.

In B.C., the sale of vape flavours will only be allowed in age-restricted shops.

Alberta joins the majority of other provinces and territories in Canada that have set 18 as the minimum age for buying and using tobacco and vaping products.

P.E.I. recently raised the minimum age to 21.

 

 


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Nova Scotia sets tough maximum nicotine level for vaping products

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Nova Scotia has approved a new regulatory cap on e-liquids and cigarettes making it the first province to adopt a maximum nicotine concentration of 20 milligrams per millilitre.

An order in council signed in May amends the province’s Tobacco Access Act regulations and takes effect Sept. 1.

The move follows an amendment passed in March that banned flavoured vaping products.

The Canadian Cancer Society says Nova Scotia’s maximum nicotine level is the same standard that has been in place in the 28-country European Union for some years.

In an email, the provincial Health Department says the regulatory changes will enhance efforts to protect youth from the harms of nicotine by reducing their exposure to highly addictive concentrations.

A 2016-17 survey suggested 37% of Nova Scotia students in grades 7 to 12 had tried vaping at least once – one of the highest rates in Canada.

In a news release, the Canadian Cancer Society noted a recent study by University of Waterloo researchers that found youth vaping among 16-19 year-olds in Canada more than doubled over a two-year period, from 2017 to 2019.

The study, published in JAMA Pediatrics, found that youth vaping increased from 8.4% in 2017 to 17.8% in 2019 – a 112% increase.

“This dramatic increase in youth vaping has been after tobacco companies entered the Canadian market for e-cigarettes following legalization of e-cigarettes with nicotine in May 2018,” the cancer society said.

It also noted that last November, British Columbia announced it would adopt a regulation for a maximum nicotine level of 20 milligrams per millilitre. The regulation is yet to be adopted.

The Quebec and federal governments have also said that they are considering the measure.

A vaping industry group said that the Nova Scotia government’s move would “make it harder for heavy smokers to quit and do little to combat access by youth.

“The result is that smokers may stay smoking, vapers may go back to smoking or vapers may try to obtain higher nicotine and flavoured products from the illicit market or from other provinces,” the Vaping Industry Trade Association said in a statement.

 


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Ontario’s new vaping regulations kick in July 1

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C-stores across the province are preparing for new amendments to the Smoke-Free Ontario Act, which brings with it more restrictive rules for operators when it comes to the sale of vaping products.

The following regulations come into effect July 1, 2020:

  • The sale of flavoured vapour products will be restricted to specialty vape stores and licensed cannabis retail stores. C-stores  can only sell tobacco, menthol and mint flavoured vapour products;
  • The sale of vapour products with high nicotine concentrations (greater than 20 mg/ml) will be restricted to specialty vape stores.

These changes are part of the Government of Ontario’s efforts to curb youth vaping and were initially to come into play May 1, but as governments and retailers dealt with the ramifications of COVID-19 on business and healthy, it was delayed until next month.

READ: Ontario delays new vaping regulations

Regarding the delay, Dianne Alexander, director Health Promotion and Prevention Policy and Programs Branch, Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, Public Health Ministry of Health, said at the time: “The government understands that some of the proposed amendments would require certain businesses to remove inventory from their stores, which may involve contact with others. Providing more time to implement would allow owners and employees of affected businesses to practice physical distancing.”

While industry leaders welcomed the extension, it is largely felt the new rules are an unfair blow to the convenience industry. It’s argued that the convenience sector has a proven track record selling age-restricted products and the move instead puts more power in the hands of unregulated vape shops.

The one caveat is specialty vape stores will no longer be permitted to have indoor displays and promotions that are visible from outside their stores.

Meanwhile, c-stores will have until July 1 to sell out or return to suppliers their existing inventory of higher nicotine and flavours that fall outside the new regulations.


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Ontario delays new vaping regulations

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Ontario’s Ministry of Health is hitting pause on a series of new vaping regulations that were to come into effect on May 1.

The implementation of the new regulations, which have far-reaching effects on the convenience sector, will now be delayed until July 1, giving all parties time to make adjustments while also dealing with the business impacts of COVID-19.

Screen Shot 2020-04-13 at 4.29.11 PM“We commend the Ontario government for listening to our concerns regarding the May 1st deadline to remove vaping products from our stores which was not feasible or in the public interest,” says Anne Kothawala, president & CEO of the Convenience Industry Council of Canada. “Major inventory operations, like pulling vape products from our stores, require employees and third-party representatives to meet, travel and have contact with each other all which would have run contrary to guidelines requiring social distancing.”

In a statement, Dianne Alexander, director Health Promotion and Prevention Policy and Programs Branch, Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, Public Health Ministry of Health, said: “The government understands that some of the proposed amendments would require certain businesses to remove inventory from their stores, which may involve contact with others. Providing more time to implement would allow owners and employees of affected businesses to practice physical distancing.”

Among the regulatory amendments under the Smoke-Free Ontario Act, 2017, the following rules are considered a blow to the convenience industry:

  • Restricting the retail sale of flavoured vapour products to Specialty Vape Stores and Cannabis Retail Stores, except for menthol, mint and tobacco flavours.
  • Restricting the retail sale of high nicotine vapour products (>20mg/ml) to Specialty Vape Stores.

C-stores will have until July 1 to sell out or return to suppliers their existing inventory of higher nicotine and flavours that fall outside the new regulations.

While the industry welcomes the extension, they are critical of the province’s overall decision, which puts more power in the hands of unregulated vape shops.

At the time of the announcement, Health Minister Christine Elliott unveiled a number of measures, which were presented as an effort to curb youth vaping.

“As we learned more about the alarming increase in youth vaping, one thing has become abundantly clear: we need to do more,” Elliott said, citing recent studies suggesting use of vaping products among young people surged 74% in the past year. “Indeed, the early evidence is quite concerning.”

However, industry associations are “disappointed” in the strategy, saying the efforts are misguided and do little to address the youth vaping crisis. The consensus is convenience stores, which already sell age-restricted products, such as tobacco, alcohol and lottery, are in an ideal position to sell vapes and accessories.

READ: Industry reacts to Ontario’s proposed vaping regulations 

Screen Shot 2020-04-13 at 4.28.54 PM“The entire vape consultation has not been well thought out,” says Ontario Convenience Stores Association CEO Dave Bryans. “Any person buying cigarettes must come into a convenience store and they would purchase their brands in different strengths like light, low tar etc. If they are thinking about moving to a safer alternative, like a vape product… then they should have the option to choose one of the three flavours in the strength of nicotine they are accustomed to. Failing this they will most likely continue to smoke and we don’t see everyday tobacco customers sourcing out a vape shop. The vape shop consumer is a flavour addict using fruity flavours and can option for any strength they desire in tanks or specialty units. C-store customers want to have a pod in a easy-to-use format, not the complications of what a vape store offers.”

The OCSA says it will continue pushing the government to allow for three strength levels of nicotine.

“There may be a marginal number of customers morphing to the vape shops, but I see more of a new black market of flavours from all over the world being available online to everyone,” adds Bryans. “Today, and even with the present legislation, no one has considered the online sales issue, nor have there been any strict age testing requirements at the door to verify the purchaser being over 19.”

While both the CICC and OCSA vow to continue discussions with the government, for the moment c-store operators should start planning around the July 1 deadline.

“Independents should start rationalizing slower moving brands and start educating their customers of the potential changes,” says Bryans, who recommends operators work with suppliers to mitigate the change. “They also still have the option to call their MPP and speak out about this unfairness and potentially sending tobacco smokers to another unproven channel with no track record.”

“At a more appropriate time, CICC will continue to express our concerns about the proposed vaping regulations which will fail to solve the problem of youth vaping,” says Kothawala, “But right now, we will continue to focus on our vitally important role to ensure that Canadians are well supplied with their daily needs during this crisis.”


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Results from Canadian Tobacco and Nicotine Survey now include vaping

Screen Shot 2019-05-08 at 3.17.42 PMEight out of 10 Canadians who are vaping are vaping nicotine, according to a new survey from Statistics Canada.

The latest annual Canadian Tobacco and Nicotine Survey, published in March, aims to gather information about the prevalence of cigarette smoking, vaping and cannabis use.

For the first time ever, the survey included questions about vaping in an effort shed light on the types of products Canadians are using, how often they are vaping and their reasons for doing so. This report, the first to track detailed information about vaping in this country, defines it as the “act of inhaling and exhaling vapour produced by a device such as an electronic cigarette (e-cigarette), vape mod, vaporizer or vape pen.”

The study recognized that “while some use these devices to curtail or to quit smoking,” it went on to point out “vaping can also have negative effects, particularly among youth.”

The report revealed that among those who had vaped in the 30 days preceding the survey, about 8 in ten indicated that they had vaped nicotine. This proportion was even higher among users aged 15 to 19 (87%) and those aged 20 to 24 (86%).

In addition, about one in 10 users aged 15 to 19 and aged 20 to 24 reported that they once tried a vaping device without knowing whether or not it contained nicotine.

Frequency of vaping also varied across age groups. Among users aged 15 to 19, 31% vaped on a daily basis, compared with 38% of those aged 20 to 24, and more than half of those aged 25 and older.

Other highlights:

  • In 2019, 15% of teenagers aged 15 to 19 reported having vaped in the 30 days preceding the survey, and over one-third (36%) reported having tried it at some point in their lives.
  • Among young adults aged 20 to 24, the proportion of those who had vaped in the 30 days preceding the survey was also 15%, and close to half (48%) said that they had tried it at some point.
  • In comparison, less than 3% of adults aged 25 and older reported using a vaping product in the 30 days preceding the survey, and 12% indicated that they had tried vaping at some point.
  • For both men and women, the proportion of those who used a vaping device in the 30 days preceding the survey was higher in younger age groups. In general, men are more likely than women to vape.

Reasons for vaping varied by age group and users were classified across the following categories: (1) those who just wanted to try; (2) those who reported enjoying it; (3) those who vaped to reduce stress; (4) those who vaped to reduce or quit smoking; and (5) those who mentioned other reasons.

Among users aged 15 to 19, the most common reasons were “because they wanted to try” (29%) and “because they enjoyed it” (29%). About one in five (21%) said that they vaped to reduce stress, while 9% said that they did so to quit or cut down on smoking.

Among those aged 20 to 24, the proportion who vaped because they wanted to quit or cut down on smoking was higher (28%). However, similar to their teenaged counterparts, more than one-quarter (27%) of users in this age group reported vaping just because they wanted to try it.

Among those aged 25 and older, by contrast, users were significantly more likely than younger users to report having vaped in an effort to reduce or quit smoking, with more than half of those aged 25 and older citing this as their main reason.

Perception of harm

Among those who had vaped in the 30 days preceding the survey:

  • 60% believed that vaping products were less harmful than cigarettes
  • 20% thought that they were similarly harmful
  • 9% felt they were more harmful, and 10% said that they did not know

Among those who had never vaped:

  • 13% perceived vaping as less harmful than cigarettes
  • 33% felt both were equally harmful
  • 23% thought that vaping was more harmful
  • 31% did not know

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Newfoundland allows specialty vape shops to remain open during COVID-19 crisis

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The Canadian Vaping Association (CVA) is commending the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador for allowing specialty vape shops to continue to operate under strict social distancing protocols during the COVID-19 crisis.

“Allowing vape shops to operate using only contactless curbside pickup protocols will prevent thousands of Newfoundlanders from being forced back to combustible tobacco, a product known to kill one in two users,” the association said in a statement.

“We applaud the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador for having found an appropriate means to care for the physical and mental health needs of vapers while ensuring the safety and protection of all individuals in their province.  The vapers in this province will continue to have access to the low nicotine harm reduction products which are only available in adult access product vape shops, while strict social distancing protocols implemented will serve to protect the public and staff,” said Darryl Tempest, executive director of The Canadian Vaping Association. “The CVA has repeatedly voiced our concern over limiting access to harm reduction products. The decision to ensure vape shops continue to operate under the condition that they use curbside pickup will prevent thousands of vapers from returning to smoking, thus saving the lives of many Newfoundlanders.”

The CVA is calling on other provinces to amend their essential services list to include vape shops.

However, the Ontario Convenience Stores Association is calling out some vape shops on social media, highlighting the number of vape shop operators ignoring government directives to close: “These are the stores that Ontario Health Ministry believe can handle adult products better than c-stores. Convenience stores are your trusted neighbourhood business.”

In another Tweet: “Vape shops in Ontario are ‘not’ an essential service retailer but vape supplies are available in convenience stores during these unknown times.”