Vape tax in Quebec could boost black-market, increase smoking rates: CVA

The Canadian Vaping Association warns that Quebec’s proposed tax and flavour ban could make it one of the "most attractive provinces to operate in as a tobacco company or be involved in the illicit trade".
Daniel Reale-Chin
Associate Editor, Convenience Store News Canada
Daniel Reale-Chin, a young man with a beard, smiles at the camera
Multiple vaping products with smoke in background. The word "tax" written out in wooden letter box in front of vape products.

The Canadian Vaping Association (CVA) is warning that Quebec’s plan to introduce a vapour product excise tax and a ban on flavoured vape products will increase its smoking rate and strengthen the province’s black-market. The CVA argues that vaping products play an important part in smoking cessation and the ban will cause increases in cigarette sales.

Quebec originally announced plans to tax vaping products in the province’s economic update back in December. The levy would be similar to the excise duty implemented by the federal government. In Quebec, the tax would cost a consumer $2 for 2mL of vaping liquid for the first 10mL of the substance, reported CTV News

According to the CVA, similar policies in Nova Scotia have had a negative effect: within 90 days of implementation, the CVA claims that the province experienced an increase in cigarette sales, illicit channels surged and small businesses were affected by the tax and flavour ban. 

The CVA claims that market research and sales data shows that 90% of adult vapers use a flavoured product and that smokers who quit using a flavour other than tobacco are twice as likely to successfully quit smoking. 

The Government of Quebec says the new tax and ban will protect and deter youth from vaping. Results from the 2021 Canadian Tobacco and Nicotine Survey, which collected responses from 9,908 people ages 15 and older, found that fruit-flavoured vaping products were the most popular among people ages 15 to 19. 

Despite that, the CVA says that youth are best protected through regulation, enforcement and education, which the association says the country already does. 

The Government of Quebec originally announced its intention to ban the sale of flavoured vape products in c-stores late in 2020, following similar bans in multiple provinces including Ontario, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island

“The Canadian Vaping Association implores the government of Quebec to consider the consequences and consult with harm reduction experts. The increase in cigarette sales across regions with heavy-handed taxation and flavour bans is too acute to ignore,” Darryl Tempest, government relations counsel to the CVA Board, said in a press release. 

In 2020, the Canadian Lung Association and the Heart & Stroke Foundation of Canada launched a public awareness campaign that took aim at flavoured vape products and urged all level of governments to either limit or ban them.

According to the Government of Canada’s website, evidence indicates that adults who smoke then completely switch to vaping immediately reduce their exposure to harmful chemicals found in cigarette smoke, have general health improvements in the short term and save money in the long run. 

“Flavour bans deny adult smokers their constitutional right to reduce their harm and improve their health outcomes. Vaping has proven to be more effective than nicotine replacement therapy for quitting smoking,” added Tempest. 

The CVA is working to raise $1.5 million to “help defend Canadian’s right to harm reduction”. The association has successfully raised over $1.3 million so far. 

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