As of March 1, 2021, the sale of flavoured vape and e-cigarette products will be banned on Prince Edward Island.
The regulation changes were passed by cabinet last month. It comes as part of a private members bill from PC MLA Cory Deagle, which received unanimous support from the legislature in 2019, to crack down on nicotine use among young people.
Deagle calls the trend of youth vaping "disturbing".
"There's a lot of data out there that shows the increase and, you know, when they start vaping, they're addicted to nicotine and eventually it's going to lead them to smoking, and we don't want that," said Deagle.
"Getting rid of the flavours is a huge step, and I think the next step is a cap on the nicotine content."
Crackdown on youth nicotine use
P.E.I. has already made changes to the Tobacco and Electronic Smoking Devices Sales and Access Act as part of Deagle's bill.
Effective March 2020, the age of access for tobacco and vaping products increased to 21, and the points of purchase became more regulated — with products only available through vape shops and tobacconists.
Deagle would now like to see P.E.I. follow Nova Scotia's lead — capping nicotine concentration in e-liquids at 20 milligrams per millilitre. He said the concentration is not regulated at this time, so some products have higher concentrations.
"I'm not sure if this is a legislative piece or if it's something done through regulations, but it's something I'm going to push for with the minister at our caucus table," he said.
"In the long run, this is what's best for everyone."
Darryl Tempest, executive director of the Canadian Vaping Association, disagrees with Deagle. He breaks the vaping trend down into two groups: adults looking for smoking alternatives with reduced harm and youth looking to experiment.
Though Tempest agrees young experimenters are often looking for unnecessarily high concentrations of nicotine, he said P.E.I.'s ban will hurt adults who want to quit smoking, which accounts for high mortality rates in Canada.
"The policy is very misguided in terms of the impact they're looking for," he said. "It doesn't support the harm reduction for the thousands of those who have used vaping to get off combustible tobacco.
"Flavours have been miscasted here."
Don't leave the greatest harm reduction opportunity ... and throw it away. — Darryl Tempest, executive director of the Canadian Vaping Association.
Tempest said through the association's work across the country, it's become clear that flavoured products are important for adults who choose vaping to reduce or quit their tobacco intake.
Meanwhile, he says young experimenters will continue to seek the products they want through friends, siblings or non-regulated sources.
"If you look at P.E.I, there's only nine shops where adults can go in and get information and get more nicotine products," he said.
"If you look at the challenge even for adults, if you go to a flavour ban, these shops will shut down."
Back to cigarettes
Vendors were notified of the change last month in a letter distributed by the Department of Health and Wellness.
The letter said the department believes that with six month advance notice, "tobacconist shops have sufficient time to deplete their inventory of flavoured electronic smoking device products".
"I think it might push some customers to go back to cigarettes," said Wild Impulse shop manager Stephanie Dooley.
"We have a lot of people that like the flavours over the tobacco flavour, so ya, it's upsetting."
She said her store has sales on and is trying to move products now, but come March, they'll have to send any remaining products back.
Dooley estimates that 90 per cent of their sales of e-juice products are flavoured.
"By curbing this, and by limiting the flavours to just tobacco and bland flavour that it's really going to take that appeal away," said P.E.I. Lung Association coordinator Julia Hartley, applauding the move.
"Flavours are huge enticers for youth."
"I hope the [P.E.I.] minister takes the opportunity to make sure they get the policy right," Tempest said.
"Don't leave the greatest harm reduction opportunity in Canadian history and throw it away."
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