Vaping industry responds to new advertising rules

Alternatives & Options owner Thomas Kirsop poses near a display in his store showing the number of Canadians who have died from smoking-related illness this year. – Stephen Dafoe Photo

by Stephen Dafoe

The Federal Government released new regulations on June 8 for marketing vaping products. The new rules prohibit the display of any product brand element in a place or way that young people can see it and ensures vaping devices are not visible at the point of sale where young people might be present.

While vape industry representatives say they support federal moves to keep vaping products from minors, they oppose other restrictions that prevent them from reaching adult smokers.

“The vaping industry does not want minors as customers,” said Vaping Industry Trade Association (VITA) President Daniel David in a June 8 media release. “We are a sector built to help Canada’s almost 5 million adult smokers who can’t or won’t quit combustible cigarettes switch to a far less harmful nicotine alternatives.”

With the conversation on vaping products shifting to an adults-only environment, VITA says “overly rigid prohibitions” remain in place on what shop workers can tell adults about the science on the comparative risks between vaping and smoking. That information includes Public Health England’s declaration that vaping is 95 per cent less harmful than combustible tobacco, and the American Cancer Society statement that E-cigarette use is likely to be significantly less harmful for adults than smoking regular cigarettes.

VITA says Health Canada data indicates that the 43 per cent of current smokers who view cigarettes as extremely harmful, also view vaping in the same regard.

Thomas Kirsop, the owner of Alternatives & Options, a vape shop with locations in Morinville and St. Albert, says he doesn’t believe shop owners should be able to make blanket statements on the comparative risks associated with vaping versus smoking. However, like his trade association, he thinks he should be able to discuss the product and the science behind it.

“Comparative risk is the ability to look at a smoker and say, ‘For you, individually, this [vaping] is a better option that what you’re doing today, and here is why.’ I should be able to look at a smoker and say, ‘The Royal College of Physicians in London has been saying annually since 2016 that “this product is unlikely to exceed five per cent of the harm of a cigarette and may well be less than that.’ That is the direct quote.”

VITA says it is committed to full compliance with the new rules but will also work with Health Canada and federal policymakers to develop a responsible and implementable regulatory regime that allows for authorized relative risk statements in age-gated environments.

New advertising rules take effect Aug. 7, as does a hardline on anyone under 18 coming through the door of a vaping store during operating hours. Full point-of-sale regulations go into effect Sept. 6 for non-adult-only stores that sell vaping products.

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