As of Thursday, new laws around the sale, promotion, and use of electronic cigarettes are now in effect. The BC Government is seeking to protect youth from the unknown effects of e-cigarette vapour. New rules mean the electronic versions of cigarettes are now under the same restrictions as standard tobacco.
Owner of Zaga’s Hemp Shop, Ginny Burnett, says it hurts businesses in Prince George. “I have to get rid of a lot of things we carry in the store that would cater to somebody younger and it’s really going to cut down on what I can sell in here.”
Like other shops, Zaga’s has to cover up their e-cigarette ads, hide all of their retail displays, and ask for ID at the door. It’s all part of the Tobacco and Vapour Products Control Act. “Shutting it off completely, all the stores are only going to be able to carry those certain things,” Burnett said. “Anything over and above that, you’re going to miss a whole portion of purchasers.”
The new rules mean you can’t smoke e-cigs on school grounds or in indoor public places. The exception is for a small number of customers to try out the product in adult shops only. Sales Associate with VapouRevolution, Andrew Dellaire, says that hinders the availability of e-cigs for customers who use it for harm reduction methods to quit smoking. “Because we’re not actually able to have that many people sampling, then it’s really hard to tell if people will like the flavours or that it might actually work for them.”
With the new legislation, smoking an e-cigarette has no effect on people 19 plus, but it does change the game for minors looking to get access. Nancy Viney with Tobacco Reduction at Northern Health, says the prevalence of use is amongst the highest in youth just starting out. “Now these e-cigarettes are coming out in flavours that appeal to children that’s another concern that they may be appealing to more children and again getting kids addicted to nicotine which is not what we want to do.”
However, there are varied opinions. Devin Potskin used to smoke half a pack of cigarettes a day before he switched to the electronic version. “I think they group people who vape with other smokers and I feel that’s a bad move,” he said. “A lot of people move to e-cigarettes to get away from smoking.”
Viney still says the risk still remains. “People use them both where they’ll smoke cigarettes where they’re allowed to and they’ll smoke e-cigarettes when they’re not allowed to and that will make it less likely that they’ll quit. “They likely are safer than smoking,” she said. “But people who use them both where they’ll smoke cigarettes where they’re allowed to and they’ll smoke e-cigarettes when they’re not allowed to make it less likely that they’ll quit.”
For now, business owners like Burnett have to deal with the new rules put in place by the government. “I don’t mind having an age limit, but I think they’re going overboard,” she said. “I think there’s other things to start looking at that kids can access that are bad for them too.”