U.S. markets open in 5 hours 20 minutes

CVA Unpacks the Misinformation Surrounding Specialty Vape Shop Compliance Infractions

Hamilton, ON, June 26, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The Canadian Vaping Association (CVA) is concerned by many statements in the Ontario Korean Businessmen’s Association’s press release, “84% of Vape Shops Inspected by Health Canada Violate Existing Regulations.”  This release makes it appear as though specialty vape shops are operating without regard to the vaping regulations recently enacted by the Canadian governments, however this is simply untrue. The CVA and its members are very supportive of regulations that ensure vape products are not marketed, accessible or attractive to Canadian youth. The infractions reported for specialty vape shops are not a result of product sales to minors, as many would try to portray, but to compliance issues surrounding product labels and naming conventions. The rate of reported infractions upon initial changes to the TVPA are a result of complicated laws that impact thousands of products at a store level. As a result of the work we do to provide our members with regulatory interpretation and guidance, many of the CVA members reported a 99.9% compliance rate. Infraction figures on an industry level were skewed as they were based on units on hand rather than non-compliant SKUs. Thus, when one item was deemed non-compliant, and a store had 100 units on hand, this resulted in 100 infractions being reported.

 “We support all legislation that removes flavours and high nicotine strength liquids from points of sale that are not age restricted,” says Darryl Tempest, Executive Director of the CVA. “Big Tobacco vape brands leveraged their combustible cigarette relationships with convenience stores to fuel their aggressive national marketing campaigns, which promoted high nicotine products in environments with youth exposure. This has led to the availability of high nicotine products and related advertisements in an estimated 20,000 retail locations across Canada, as compared to fewer than 1,000 access points prior to 2018. Over 2,000 access points are represented by Kenny Shim and the Ontario Korean Businessmen’s Association and many of these locations participated in egregious advertising campaigns in stores frequented by youth until the federal government had to step in and ban these practices. The Governments of Canada and Ontario had to enact regulations to stop the aggressive marketing and exposure to Canadian youth when convenience stores refused to quit these practices. It’s the exposure that drove the curiosity which, according to the CDC, is the reason that 56.1% of all youths indicated they had experimented with vaping.”

 Let us be clear, the reported infractions in specialty vape shops are not a result of selling or marketing products to youth within adult only access vape shops, but rather due to the implementation of complex regulations, which contain language that leaves much to interpretation. We must remember for the convenience store channel with 20 SKUs from Juul and Vype, these regulations are lot simpler to navigate than they are for a specialty store with 1,500 to 2,000 SKUs, most of which are low nicotine options used by adults to quit smoking. The convenience store channel, along with their Big Tobacco partners, brought us high nicotine products and flagrant advertising which resulted in the implementation of these complex regulations that impact them very little while having a significant impact on specialty vape shops.

 The CVA continues to educate and review the regulations within the TVPA with both our members and the industry at large. In addition to sharing detailed guidance with the industry, we actively report any infractions that have come to our attention and fully support Health Canada seizures from stores that are not following the law. It must be noted that some TVPA regulations are ambiguous and the industry has been left without proper guidance documents, which have been requested many times. Furthermore, the enforcement has not been consistent and, in many cases, deemed infractions have been based on an individual Tobacco Enforcement Officer's own interpretation of the law.  As a result, there are products that have been deemed non-compliant in one inspection and reported complaint in another. As the industry has now had time to adapt and had repeated consultations with Tobacco Enforcement, the rate of infractions by specialty vape shops has decreased tremendously. We continue to support equitable and consistent enforcement of the TVPA and the importance of restricting the sale of vape products to age restricted specialty vape shops. By limiting the sale of these products to adult only locations, which ID verify upon entrance, we can greatly reduce youth access to these harm reduction products meant only for use by adult smokers to combat our countries largest killer, combustible tobacco.

Darryl Tempest
The Canadian Vaping Association