P.E.I. health minister will consult with public, industry on vaping regulations

With P.E.I. set to bring in some of the strictest vaping laws in the country, the province is now tasked with developing regulations — and the Island's health minister says he's open to hearing from the public, and from industry stakeholders.

After backbench MLA Cory Deagle's private member's bill unanimously passed second reading last week, there was swift reaction from vaping associations and others with a stake in the industry. 

The legislation, which has now also passed third reading and is awaiting royal assent, will raise the minimum purchase age from 19 to 21 — the highest in the country — as well as restrict where vaping products can be sold and ban certain flavours.

Even though the bill is well on its way to becoming law, some groups say they still want to provide input. 

"Our hope is that government will still give us an opportunity to meet with them," said Mike Hammoud, president of the Atlantic Convenience Stores Association. 

'Caught off guard'

The association represents around 100 convenience stores on P.E.I. Hammoud said the association supports efforts to curb youth vaping, but when the legislation was tabled he said he was surprised to learn that it includes a provision to restrict the sale of e-cigarettes to tobacconist shops. 

"I would say the initial reaction was a bit of shock. A little surprised and caught off guard," said Hammoud. 

There will be some consultation that will be done throughout this process. — Health Minister James Aylward

Hammoud said convenience store owners, who will still be permitted to sell cigarettes, want to be able to provide options to customers who are trying to quit smoking. Hammoud said he has requested a meeting with the premier and plans to make another request.

"The only ask I think that I would have is to have that ability to have the conversation" about next steps and timing for the implementation of the new rules, Hammoud said. "And if that gives us an ability to do other things, then we'll see when that happens."

Minister open to meetings

Health Minister James Aylward said he is "willing to meet with anybody" who wants to sit down and have a discussion on the topic.

He said the development of regulations is not going to happen overnight and that, "there will be some consultation that will be done throughout this process."

Still to be determined through regulations is which specific flavours will be banned. Aylward also said there "could be different variations" of how a tobacconist shop is defined. The bill says a tobacconist shop is a place where the "primary business" is selling tobacco or electronic smoking devices. 

"We have to really fine-tune all of that," Aylward said. 

Kate Dubinski/CBC

The Vaping Industry Trade Association is also hoping it can still have some influence.

The day after the bill passed second reading the association issued a news release outlining objections to the legislation, particularly the ban on flavours and the limits on where vaping products can be sold.

In an email to CBC News, association president Daniel David said, "We do not feel it is too late to make changes." 

David said the association has requested a meeting with the health minister and others, but so far "these requests were left unanswered." 

Meanwhile Samuel Tam, the president of another group, the Canadian Vaping Association, said he has already met with Deagle and hopes to meet with other P.E.I. MLAs soon. 

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