Vaping has recently become a controversial and concerning issue, for both government and the public at large. As licensed tobacco retailers, convenience stores have responsibly sold vape products in Ontario for more than 10 years as effective smoking-cessation merchandise. In light of heightened concern from the public and rumours of increased regulation by government, here are the facts with respects to where and how vape products are sold in Ontario:
Convenience Stores DO NOT sell Vapes to minors
Convenience store operator’s livelihood depends on their ability to responsibly sell various age-restricted products. In Ontario this includes tobacco, lottery and in some locations, where stores operate LCBO Convenience Outlets, beverage alcohol. Convenience stores have proven to be responsible and trusted government-partners over the last several decades. Recent government statistics show C-store compliance rate in checking ID is over 96%! Meanwhile current statistics on the diligence of vape shops is not widely available. A recent Health Canada letter to vaping retailers stated that more than 80% of vape stores inspected were in violation of the Tobacco & Vaping Products Act. Convenience stores have a strong track record of not selling to kids, and expect to be treated fairly when government introduces new anti-vaping regulations.
Minors Admit to Accessing Vapes from Other Sources
Health Canada’s 2017 Canadian Tobacco, Alcohol & Drugs Survey shed some interesting light on the habits of people who vape including:
69% of Participants Admitted Using E-cigarettes as a Means to Quit Smoking – Convenience stores have long been licensed tobacco retailers and often know customers by name. Many long-time smokers transition to vaping by purchasing vape products in C-stores.
Vape Shops Sell More to Youth Than Convenience Stores – Of youth surveyed, 49% who admitted trying a vape reported they borrowed, shared or bought it from a friend. 23%, almost 1 in 4, admitted purchasing their vapes from a vape shop, but only 12% claimed they purchased their vape from a convenience store. Convenience store associations are working hard to make sure none of their members sell to minors, and that ID is always requested, regardless of how old the customer looks.
Banning Flavours from Convenience Stores Will Not Curb Youth Usage – Currently convenience stores only sell a small range of flavoured vaping products. Aside from tobacco and mint, a limited range of flavoured closed-pod systems are sold to encourage smokers to transition away from tobacco. Vape shops on the other hand often sell hundreds of different flavours and often in conjunction with open-pod systems that users can modify to change concentration levels. According to the Centres of Disease Control & Prevention in the US the recent rash of deaths and hospitalizations have largely been attributed to vitamin E acetate added to open-pod systems. Convenience stores largely DO NOT carry these products, while every vape shop does. If flavoured vapes remain available in vape shops and online, youth who want them will get them… Convenience stores are not the problem!
If government intends to ban flavoured vaping products in C-stores, then the ban should apply equally to all retail stores selling vapes. Nothing less will be acceptable, or fair, to our members; nor will such a move do anything to protect the health of minors in Ontario.