Groups want vape prod­uct dis­plays banned in stores

In­creas­ing num­ber of teens turn­ing to e-cig­a­rettes sit­ting along­side candy

Ottawa Citizen - - CITY - JACQUIE MILLER jmiller@post­media.com twit­ter.com/Jac­quieAMiller

The prov­ince should not al­low va­p­ing prod­ucts to con­tinue to be ad­ver­tised and dis­played along­side the candy at con­ve­nience stores, pub­lic health ad­vo­cates say.

Sev­eral or­ga­ni­za­tions asked a leg­isla­tive com­mit­tee study­ing Bill 36, On­tario’s cannabis act, to ban the dis­play and pro­mo­tion of vape prod­ucts at stores.

Bill 36 al­ready does that, but al­lows the govern­ment to make ex­cep­tions in reg­u­la­tions. That loop­hole should be closed so va­p­ing prod­ucts are treated the same as to­bacco, said Rob Cun­ning­ham, a se­nior an­a­lyst with the Cana­dian Can­cer So­ci­ety. To­bacco prod­ucts are sold from be­hind the counter and store pro­mo­tions are not al­lowed.

Cun­ning­ham brought along pho­tographs taken at con­ve­nience stores of va­p­ing dis­plays, ad­ver­tise­ments and fly­ers.

The pro­mo­tions are help­ing lure an in­creas­ing num­ber of young peo­ple into va­p­ing, said Cun­ning­ham and other pub­lic-health ex­perts who tes­ti­fied Thurs­day and Fri­day.

The dis­plays and pro­mo­tions “nor­mal­ize” va­p­ing be­cause the de­vices are treated as reg­u­lar prod­ucts, sold along­side choco­late bars, mag­a­zines and drinks, Cun­ning­ham said. Kids need to be pro­tected, he said. Some of the e-liq­uids, which come in a wide va­ri­ety of flavours, con­tain nicotine, which is ad­dic­tive.

Many young peo­ple con­sider va­p­ing safer than smok­ing and aren’t aware of the pos­si­ble health risks, sev­eral pre­sen­ters said.

Teen va­p­ing has in­creased dra­mat­i­cally, said Sarah But­son of the On­tario Lung As­so­ci­a­tion. It’s now more com­mon than smok­ing cig­a­rettes. In On­tario, 10.7 per cent of stu­dents in grades 7 to 12 said they used elec­tronic cig­a­rettes (vape pens) in 2017, ac­cord­ing to the Cen­tre for Ad­dic­tion and Men­tal Health, which does a bian­nual sur­vey of drug use. That com­pares to seven per cent of stu­dents who re­ported smok­ing a cig­a­rette, 19 per cent who used cannabis and 42.5 per cent who used al­co­hol.

Va­p­ing may be less harm­ful than smok­ing cig­a­rettes, sev­eral pre­sen­ters ac­knowl­edged.

How­ever, peo­ple who don’t smoke should not be en­cour­aged to vape, But­son said.

There is ev­i­dence teens who use e-cig­a­rettes are at higher risk of smok­ing cig­a­rettes, she said. “We are talk­ing about more than hook­ing a gen­er­a­tion on a new prod­uct, which is va­p­ing, but po­ten­tially a new gen­er­a­tion of peo­ple who smoke.”

The Cit­i­zen checked out some con­ve­nience stores Fri­day and found that five out of six sold vape pens. Sev­eral stores had dis­plays on the coun­ters near the check­outs, while two stores had the dis­plays be­hind the coun­ters.

One store car­ried JUUL, the small, sleek vape pens pop­u­lar among high school­ers in the United States, be­hind the counter in a box that con­cealed the prod­uct. JUUL ad­ver­tises the pen as a “sat­is­fy­ing al­ter­na­tive to cig­a­rettes” for adults.

Some of the candy-flavoured vape liq­uids are at­trac­tive to youths, said Liz Scan­lon of the Heart and Stroke Foun­da­tion. It can be dif­fi­cult to know the sub­stance peo­ple are va­p­ing be­cause there isn’t a lot of odour emit­ted, she said.

Some types of vape pens can be used to con­sume cannabis, but those de­vices are typ­i­cally sold at head­shops and spe­cialty vape stores. Loaded cannabis vape pens are il­le­gal and can only be ob­tained in the black mar­ket.

Two del­e­ga­tions at the com­mit­tee hear­ings said e-cig­a­rette ad­ver­tis­ing and dis­plays should be al­lowed in stores to ed­u­cate adult to­bacco smok­ers.

When smok­ers visit a cor­ner store to pick up cig­a­rettes, they should know that an al­ter­na­tive is avail­able, said Jaye Blancher of the To­bacco Harm Re­duc­tion As­so­ci­a­tion of Canada.

Blancher said she started smok­ing cig­a­rettes at age 12 and tried un­suc­cess­fully for years to quit. Since 2016, she has been va­p­ing in­stead.

The pro­vin­cial act “pos­i­tively re­flects that va­p­ing is less risky by cat­e­go­riz­ing to­bacco and va­p­ing sep­a­rately,” she said. “I’d rather see a youth va­p­ing than smok­ing.”

How­ever, flashy ads aren’t nec­es­sary, Blancher said.

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