OKBA Frustrated by Government Sanctioned Unlevel Playing Field When It Comes to Vape Product Retailers in Ontario

TORONTOOct. 25, 2019 /CNW/ – Members of the Ontario Korean Businessmen’s Association (OKBA) are disappointed with today’s provincial announcement that convenience stores will be prohibited from using any in-store vaping promotional materials starting January 1, 2020.

Convenience store operators have long been a trusted government alley when it comes to selling age-restricted products responsibly. Store owners’ livelihood depends on them following the rules and conditions government sets out for selling items like tobacco, lottery, e-cigarettes and vaping products. According to the government’s records, OKBA store owners recently scored 98.3% compliance when tested by mystery shoppers. The OKBA and its more than 1,000 members across Ontario are willing to accept changes in government regulation, however they are deeply disappointed in the unlevel playing field the government is proposing to create between convenience stores and vape shops.

“Our members have been selling e-cigarettes and vaping products for many years and we work closely with our members to ensure minors cannot buy them in our stores”, said Kenny Shim, OKBA Spokesman and King Street West store owner. “If government is concerned about vaping products why are they just targeting convenience stores? Why are vape shops, who have sprung up in every neighbourhood and who do not have a long-term track record with government, allowed to continue in-store advertising? Why doesn’t government prohibit all vaping product advertising and promotion?” Added Shim, “For years our members have suffered because of the unlevel playing field when it comes to contraband tobacco in Ontario. Now we get hit again when it comes to a new product category. It’s very unfair and it will hurt our members.”

Compared to vape shops, convenience stores only sell a very limited range of vaping products. In addition, vaping products that have been identified as dangerous by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, including reusable “open systems” and THC induced liquids, are not sold in convenience stores. The overwhelming majority of vaping products sold in convenience stores are purchased by tobacco smokers looking for a safer and less harmful alternative.

The OKBA is disappointed it wasn’t consulted in a meaningful way prior to today’s announcement however, the organization is committed to continue lobbying the provincial government to reconsider this proposed regulatory change.

SOURCE Ontario Korean Businessmen’s Association

For further information: For media inquiries please contact: Lindsay Yaciuk, Grassroots Public Affairs, 905 715 2788, lindsay@grassrootspa.ca