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Convenience stores not a top source of vaping products for youth, according to the “2019 Drug use Among Ontario Students Report” by The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH).
Among those who use tobacco cigarettes, as well as among those who use e-cigarettes, friends are reported to be the most common source of these products. When it comes to vaping, 53.7% borrowed from a friend, followed by buying from a friend or someone else (11.2%), and purchasing from a specialty vape store (9.7%).
According to a statement from the Convenience Industry Council of Canada, the number of youth accessing vapour products from convenience stores was so low that it didn’t even make the list.
“This data confirms what the CICC has been saying for months, convenience stores are not the source of vaping products for youth, and this report makes the Ontario government’s targeting of convenience stores in their attempt to address the youth vaping problem all the more baffling” says Anne Kothawala, president and CEO of the Convenience Industry Council of Canada.
The Ontario government is currently considering both a flavour ban and a nicotine cap for the sale of vapour products sold in convenience stores, but not specialty vape shops or online retailers. Across the country, provinces, territories and municipalities are introducing various regulations.
“Industry sales data clearly demonstrates that 80% of adult smokers who have made the switch to vape products have chosen a flavoured option and a higher nicotine content in their initial switch from tobacco to reduced risk products. While we understand that there isn’t a lot of sympathy for adult smokers, surely the public policy goal of reducing smoking rates is still a public policy priority,” adds Kothawala.
The CAMH study did show a significant increase in the incidence of electronic cigarette use among students in Grades 7 through 12. The percentage of students who used e- cigarettes for the first time was higher in 2019 (21%) compared to 2017 (14%) and 2015 (16%).
About one-quarter (23%) of students (an estimated 184,200) report using an electronic cigarette in the past year (more than just a few puffs) and about one-in-eight (13%) students use weekly or daily. Past year electronic cigarette use doubled between 2017 and 2019, from 11% to 23%. Weekly or daily vaping has also significantly increased over time.
The convenience industry has long maintained that c-stores, with a strong track record of selling items with restricted age-limits, such as lottery, tobacco and alcohol, are in the best position to also sell vaping products.
“While we fully support any efforts to combat the increase in youth vaping, restricting the ability of convenience stores to offer these products to their adult consumers is not only misguided, it is dangerous public policy,” says Kothawala. “Restricting the sale of vaping products in convenience stores will do nothing to combat the rise of youth vaping since it does not address the actual source of the problem. All this will do is force our adult customers of vaping products back to cigarettes. The facts are clear, our member convenience stores keep vape products out of the hands of youth. Until the government address online sales or vape shops, we will never get to the bottom of youth vaping."
“Our members are also parents and leaders in their community who want to be partners with government in restricting the sale of all age-restricted products to youth. The time has come for the Ontario government to acknowledge the facts and evidence and to bring in policies that will actually address the problem of youth vaping rather than conveniently scapegoating hard working convenience store owners to get the appearance of action on this issue,” concludes Kothawala.