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CICC unveils compliance report on Quebec’s ban on flavoured vaping sales

Convenience Industry Council of Canada finds deliberate non-compliance of vape shops compared to the rest of the industry.
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Man smoking a vape, surrounded by smoke, on black background wearing black baseball cap.

The Convenience Industry Council of Canada (CICC) unveiled its first compliance report on the proximity retail industry in Quebec concerning the ban on flavoured vaping sales. 

In a release accompanying the says that there is a “shocking and deliberate non-compliance by vape shops, whether converted into convenience stores or not, compared to other types of retailers, including major chains that are CICC members and independent stores.”

Since the regulation banning flavoured sales came into effect on October 31st, CICC member convenience store chains have strictly adhered to this new directive. However, they have recorded significant revenue losses, reaching approximately 40% of vaping product sales. These alarming figures do not indicate a reduction in consumption but rather a shift in demand to other channels.

To inform its members and relevant authorities, the CICC conducted nearly 400 store inspections over the past six months and analyzed internal data as well as public data from the Quebec Ministry of Health (MSSS). This exercise resulted in the following compliance grades by retail network category:

  • Supermarkets & Grocery Stores: A
  • Convenience Store Chains: A
  • Independent Convenience Stores and Tobacco Shops: B
  • Vape Shops: F
  • Overall Compliance: D
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"Since Minister Dubé's total ban on flavours came into effect, the market has been literally plundered by illegal vape shops,” says Michel Gadbois, vice-president of the CICC in a statement. “These shops are bypassing the law, law-abiding merchants are losing out, and consumers no longer know where to turn. The situation is unacceptable and entirely the responsibility of Quebec," he stated.

The CICC's estimates and inspections reveal that out of the 392 identified vape shops, 362 (92%) currently sell flavour enhancers, a practice that entirely contradicts the regulatory objective. This dismal outcome results in an overall 'F' grade for the vape shop network, while major convenience store chains, supermarkets, and grocery stores all receive an 'A'.

READ:  2024 Tobacco + Vaping Report

For independent convenience stores, about 5 to 10% engage in non-compliant practices by selling illegal flavoured vaping products. These violations could be attributed to a lack of awareness of the new strict regulations or a desire to liquidate unsold stock, but this trend is expected to decline.

According to Gadbois, the responsibility and solutions lie entirely with the government.

"It is imperative that Minister Dubé and his department take decisive measures as soon as possible to restore commercial fairness between different retail networks, whether through strengthened enforcement measures or the adoption of new regulations," he argues.

Earlier this year, the CICC wrote to the Minister of Health to propose concrete and tangible solutions to resolve this issue, including the implementation of new regulations to ensure the compliance of vape shops.

The CICC report titled Compliance Report Card of Vaping Flavour Sale Ban in Quebec is available here: CCIC Quebec Flavour Report

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