Above: Thomas Kirsop, the owner of Morinville’s only vape shop, Alternatives and Options – Vaporizers and E-liquids Ltd., says new legislation coming to help protect youth from vape products is long overdue. There are currently no provincial or federal vaping regulations in place.
by Jennifer Lavallee
Morinville News Correspondent
“Overall, I’m okay with the [proposed] regulations. I’m not overly excited about them, but I’m not disappointed either,” said Thomas Kirsop in reflection of new legislation proposed to regulate the vaping industry by the Federal Government last week. Kirsop and his wife, Marjorie, are the owners of Morinville’s only Vape Shop, Alternatives and Options – Vaporizers and E-liquids Ltd.
The Government of Canada said on Nov. 22, the intent behind the proposed legislation is in large part to protect youth.
The tabled amendments are laid out in the draft Tobacco and Vaping Product Act (a modernization of Canada’s Tobacco Act); it addresses vaping and e-cigarettes as an entirely separate entity from tobacco products, such as cigarettes and cigars.
“Other places, like the United States and in the EU, tend to lump the two together, but there’s a massive difference in their harm levels,” said Kirsop in an interview. “When you group those two [industries] together, you’re sending the message that there’s no difference between vaping and smoking. Separating the two is a huge step.”
Health Canada indicated in a press release that legislators mindfully treated vaping products as a separate class of products from tobacco, which “allow adults to access vaping products as likely less harmful alternatives to tobacco use.” The Ministry continues, however, to stress there remains the potential for adverse health effects from vaping, particularly related to nicotine addiction in young people.
“The proposed legislation would establish a flexible regime that can be adjusted as the science on vaping products develops,” noted Health Canada in a report.
Vaping has been described in some studies as a “cleaner” way to use nicotine since it does not contain ingredients like tar and other cancer-causing chemicals like tobacco does.
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“I’m actually kind of hopeful about [the proposed changes] because they are issues that need to be addressed.…these products go into my customers’ lungs, there should be some accountability there.”
Kirsop said one of the most notable issues that have personally bothered him is marketing vaping products to youth. “I’ve seen things that would shock you,” he said, referencing a vaping product (e-liquid) he once saw where the packaging looked exactly like a juice box.
“A lot of [the problems] have to do with, not so much the flavour but the packaging and marketing. You see trade and copyright infringements a lot out there too. Why would I send somebody home with a package of e-liquid that looks like [a juice box]? Think of how much nicotine is in a bottle of e-liquid; it should be stored in the same places as where you put other things you don’t want the kids to get ahold of. I don’t want anyone to have a mishap. Kids drink juice boxes, do you really want to have 100mg of nicotine sitting around looking like a juice box? You’re just asking for trouble.”
“I try to keep in mind that I have four kids. I know what I want for them. I know what I’d like to see for all of my customers, and it’s important to me.”
Other potential rules for the vaping industry are related to advertising standards, promotion of vaping products, age verification requirements for those purchasing online, and prohibition of certain ingredients in e-liquid.
The other changes proposed in the Tobacco and Vaping Product Act include banning menthol in most tobacco, requiring plain packaging for products, and updating provisions around tobacco control.
Jane Philpot, Canada’s Minister of Heath, said in a statement on Nov. 22, “The introduction of this important legislation is the next step in the Government’s work to protect young Canadians from nicotine addiction and tobacco use. At the same time, it introduces an approach to vaping products that considers their potential benefits to smokers. I look forward to seeing this Bill through the legislative process.”
The Government of Canada does not currently legislate vaping products; however, some provinces do have regulations in place. Alberta does not currently have any legislation addressing vaping rules.
Though there is currently nothing prohibiting him from doing so, Kirsop said, “we don’t sell to anyone under 18-years-of age. Morally, we won’t do it.”
As someone who started smoking at the age of nine, Kirsop said he understands how addicting the habit can be. It wasn’t until about 30-years later when he discovered vaping that he finally quit; “…the last cigarette I ever smoked was the one I put out when I walked into that [vape] shop…it’s not a difficult transition to go from one to the other because the habit is the same.”