On April 19, 2023, the CBC reported the province of Quebec pulling the plug on flavoured products in an effort to curb vaping by minors. More specifically, the government is going to amend the Tobacco Control Act to prohibit the sale and/or distribution of vaping products with a flavour or aroma other than that of tobacco. This applies to electronic cigarettes or any other devices of that nature, including their components and accessories.
In other words, the ban will affect everything with e-liquid other than tobacco or flavourless, as well as limiting bottle sizes to 30mL, and tank/pod/disposable sizes to 2mL. Additionally, the regulations would limit nicotine strength to 20mg/mL although the same limit is already mandated by federal rules.
Upon publication of the Draft Regulations in Gazette officielle du Québec on April 19, a 45-day public consultation period began for any person wishing to comment on the draft Regulation to weigh in written comments on the amendment(s) to the Minister of Health in Quebec. If the proposed regulations are given the green light, there will be a 90-day period before the flavour ban actually comes into effect and starts taking a bite out of your choices.
Update: Concerned residents of Quebec are encouraged contact the government directly using this convenient form provided by the Coalition des droits des vapoteurs du Quebec, before the consultation period ends June 3.
Lessons from Across Canada
Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick and the Northwest Territories have already instituted flavour bans and tumbled into a flavourless landscape, whereas British Columbia, Ontario, and Saskatchewan have restricted flavoured vape options to specialty vape shops only. As Quebec joins the flavourless crusade, the motives behind the regulation remain questioned.
While the regulations are proposed to safeguard at-risk youth in the province as protective measures, the reality of the amendments arguably serve primarily to protect the tobacco trade in Quebec, and doesn’t acknowledge where the real harm lies.
In the case of Nova Scotia, the Canadian Vaping Association reported earlier this year that there was an unprecedented increase in cigarette sales, small businesses were decimated, and illicit channels surged within 90 days of implementation of the flavour bans. The Atlantic Convenience Store Association also revealed an unprecedented spike in cigarette sales, with polling by Abacus Data suggesting that nearly 30% of vapers were at risk of relapse, following the province’s flavour ban and vape tax.
Aftertaste of a Flavourless Future
Nova Scotia has proven to be a cautionary tale of what not to do on with regulation and should serve as a warning of the consequences of restricting flavours and increasing taxes. Furthermore, flavour bans might be counterproductive, eventually doing more harm than good. According to recent Financial Post coverage, vaping has been established to be much less harmful than smoking. In fact, Health Canada itself also suggested that flavours play an important role in helping smokers transition to a less harmful source of nicotine.
In addition, there is substantial evidence from jurisdictions that have already implemented flavour bans that the public health outcome is adverse, as many vapers may return to smoking and fewer smokers will switch to vaping.
The proposed flavour ban does not only curb consumer’s choice, but also poses a significant threat to the survival of hundreds of small businesses. As per a recent CTV article on April 20, citing the Vaping Shops Alliance, the ban could lead to shuttering of 400 stores.
Earlier this year the government of Quebec also announced their intention to impose a heavy tax on vaping products beginning in the Fall that will be applied in addition to the Federal Vaping Tax, essentially doubling the amount of tax paid. So first the availability of products would become severely limited, and then those remaining will become much more expensive.
180 Smoke firmly stands by the position that youth safety is paramount and remains committed to prioritize education and precautionary measures in the regulated sale of vaping products; however, it’s worth noting that Quebec’s recent move to ban flavours is just part of the larger trend of increased regulatory restrictions on the sale of vaping products, and it ultimately limits choices for responsible adults.
Despite the challenging circumstances, we remain committed to staying ahead of the curve, adapting to the evolving needs of our customers, and continuing our dedication to provide high-quality products and exceptional service.