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Flavoured vape and e-cigarette products are now banned on Prince Edward Island.
The regulation changes are part of a private members bill from PC MLA Cory Deagle, which received unanimous support from the legislature in 2019.
"The only flavour you'll be able to use would be tobacco flavoured so all those other flavours will be gone," Deagle said.
"This is probably one of the biggest steps that we're going to see trying to get rid of, or at least reduce, the amount of youth that are vaping."
P.E.I. has already made two other changes to the Tobacco and Electronic Smoking Devices Sales and Access Act as part of Deagle's bill.
Effective March 2020, the age of access for tobacco and vaping products increased to 21, and the points of purchase became more regulated — with products only available through vape shops and tobacconists.
"Obviously the age was big, and restricting the access to it was big as well. But the flavours are, I think, clearly what draws youth to it and keeps them on the product as well as being addicted to nicotine," Deagle said.
"Really the flavours is what keeps them coming back."
Deagle received some online threats when the bill was being discussed in the legislature in November 2019.
"With the flavour ban coming, I imagine that I'll probably receive a bit more criticism, that's to be expected, but hopefully it won't be what we saw when I first passed the bill," Deagle said.
"I understand that some people might be upset. I believe this is the right thing to do. Despite that criticism, hopefully it stays respectful, and and it doesn't translate into threats or anything like that."
Vendors were notified of the upcoming ban on flavoured products in August 2020, in a letter distributed by the Department of Health and Wellness.
The letter said the department believed that with six month advance notice, "tobacconist shops have sufficient time to deplete their inventory of flavoured electronic smoking device products".
At Wild Impulse in Charlottetown, the shelves were still full of flavoured products on Friday afternoon, with the ban just days away.
Manager J-K Thorne said the store carries more than 45 flavours for vaping, but as of March 1st, they will only be able to sell ones that are tobacco flavoured, flavourless or labelled clear.
"Customers are a little disappointed. They feel that they have something to lean on if they wanted to get off cigarettes," Thorne said.
"They found that the tobacco flavour actually reminded them of cigarettes, but it wasn't good enough, and it actually brought them back to buying cigarettes, which is a little unfortunate."
Thorne said some customers stocked up on the flavours, but others will be turning elsewhere.
"They also said that they'll be looking online, to get it shipped here," Thorne said. "So it's taking some customers away as well, which is a little disappointing."
The co-ordinator of the P.E.I. Lung Association, Julia Hartley, called the ban on flavours a "really important step."
According to the Canadian Student Tobacco, Alcohol and Drugs Survey in 2018-2019, 39.3 per cent of Island teens in grades 10 to 12 had used e-cigarettes in the last 30 days.
"We know that flavoured products are a huge driver for youth. We know that youth between the ages 12 and 20 are using these products in a huge way," Hartley said, referring to a survey conducted by the Lung Association and Heart and Stroke, of more than 1,800 youth and young adults across Canada.
"We found that 95 percent of those youth prefer the flavoured product, and of those participants, 50 percent said that they would quit if the products were no longer available."
"So we think that this is going to have a huge impact on our youth."
As a next step, Hartley would like to see the provincial government increase the prices of vaping products and e-cigarettes.
"These products, although they do have the flavours removed, are still very, very cheap," Hartley said.
"So what we would like to see is a 20 percent tax, at least, on vaping products, be implemented by the provincial government to ensure that these products are not affordable for youth, and to deter initiation, as well as encourage current smokers to quit."
Deagle said he hopes the changes on P.E.I. will inspire other provinces to take similar actions.
"I think it went quite far, it'll be some of the strictest regulations in Canada," Deagle said.
"I realize that this isn't going to eliminate youth vaping overnight, but hopefully over the next two, three, four years, that will start to be able to reverse the trend of the staggering increase of the amount of youth that are vaping."
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