A Stratford, P.E.I. tobacconist has been found guilty of selling a flavoured vape product in contravention of new provincial regulations imposed in March.
GrowDaddy Inc. was ordered to pay a $300 fine on Wednesday for violating Section 3.1 of Prince Edward Island's Flavoured Tobacco and E-Cigarette Sales and Access Act.
That bans the sale of flavoured vaping products, like those that smell and taste like candy, fruit, chocolate or menthol, as the province seeks to make vaping less appealing to youth.
GrowDaddy pleaded not guilty.
The Crown's case was based on the testimony of two provincial employees, one of whom acted as a "test shopper" to see if the store was breaking the new rules.
Bailey MacPhail told the court she went to the Stratford location of GrowDaddy on April 23 and told the clerk she was looking for a flavoured vape pod.
She testified that the clerk showed her some vaping products and offered one that was banana-flavoured, though the package was labelled cigar flavour, which is still legal under the Act.
MacPhail said she bought the package of three pods and took it to Kelly Campbell, who is a provincial tobacco enforcement officer whose duties include running the test shopping operation on behalf of the Department of Health and Wellness.
Both MacPhail and Campbell testified that they went outside to test the product and they could smell banana and tobacco, and Campbell could taste both banana and tobacco when he tested the pod in a vape pen.
GrowDaddy owner Chris Furlong, who represented the business in court, said that his store's inventory is free of anything but tobacco- and cigar-flavoured vape products, as well as unflavoured varieties.
He produced an invoice from the supplier of the product in question, showing it was shipped as a cigar-flavoured item.
But Judge Nancy Orr said that what was offered to the buyer and what the witnesses smelled was banana along with tobacco.
She did acknowledge that Furlong's business was inspected both before and after the April incident, with satisfactory results, and noted that this was a first offence for GrowDaddy.
According to the province, at least five other P.E.I. businesses have been charged with violating the act by selling flavoured vape products, and a Charlottetown business recently pleaded guilty to two charges.
More P.E.I. news