Le Lézard

Quebec looks to protect its tobacco trade through a vape flavour ban and increased taxes

BEAMSVILLE, Ontario, Feb. 24, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The Government of Quebec has announced its intentions to match the federal vapour product excise tax and is now considering a ban on flavoured products. Canada is a leader in tobacco harm reduction, but through regressive policy, Quebec could soon become one of the most attractive provinces to operate in as a tobacco company or be involved in the illicit trade. Flavour restrictions will give the industry, in its entirety, to tobacco companies and the black-market, while simultaneously increasing smoking rates. Quebec currently has among the highest concentration of cigarette manufacturers in Canada and ranks second in provincial tobacco tax collection.

Health Canada has updated its website to reflect the benefits of vaping and allow people who smoke to make informed decisions for their health. Health Canada states that people who completely switch from smoking to vaping:

Canada has already seen the outcome of the proposed policies in Nova Scotia. Within 90 days of implementation, there was an unprecedented increase in cigarette sales, small businesses were decimated, and illicit channels surged. Nova Scotia is not the template on which to base regulation and should serve as a warning of the consequences of restricting flavours and increasing taxes. Following Nova Scotia's flavour ban and vape tax, the Atlantic Convenience Store Association said they experienced an unprecedented spike in cigarette sales, with polling by Abacus Data suggesting that nearly 30% of vapers were at risk of relapse. Nova Scotia's Public Accounts 2020-21 detail the predictable outcome of increased cigarette sales, "Tax revenue was $11.5 million or 5.9 per cent higher than the estimate primarily due to an increase of 5.6 percent in the consumption of cigarettes..."

Recently, Member Ciccone suggested that vaping is dangerous, however the data shows that banning flavours is the real danger to public health. Market research and sales data find that 90% of adult vapers use a flavoured product. Research suggests that smokers who quit using a flavour other than tobacco are twice as likely to be successful quitting smoking. The independent vape industry, founded by people who smoked, relies on flavoured products to convert smokers. A flavour ban will decimate the independent industry and open the flood gates for a booming illicit market.

The stated intention of the flavour ban and excise tax is to strengthen youth protection. Youth are best protected through regulation, enforcement and education. Canada already has stringent regulations designed to protect youth. New research finds that flavour restrictions put youth at greater risk, through increased odds of smoking and through easier access to potentially dangerous black-market products. Thus, flavour restrictions result in increased risk to youth, fewer jobs, and more smokers. To date, no evidence has been presented to suggest that provincial flavour bans have led to any decrease in youth experimentation.

"Flavour bans deny adult smokers their constitutional right to reduce their harm and improve their health outcomes. Vaping has proven to be more effective than nicotine replacement therapy for quitting smoking. Flavours are a key component for vape product efficacy. The Canadian Vaping Association implores the government of Quebec to consider the consequences and consult with harm reduction experts. The increase in cigarette sales across regions with heavy-handed taxation and flavour bans is too acute to ignore.

"We urge the Government of Quebec to join us in requesting that the Government of Nova Scotia present the results of their vaping policies and what if any impact they had on youth usage, black market growth and the consumption of combustible tobacco products," said Darryl Tempest, Government Relations Counsel to the CVA Board.

While strong tobacco control policy has contributed to a significant decline in smoking rates, these rates had been relatively stagnant for several years prior to mainstream adoption of vaping by smokers. There is a direct correlation between vape product adoption and decreased smoking rates. Despite this progress, smoking remains the leading cause of death and illness in Canada. Each year, 13,000 Quebecers die prematurely from tobacco related illness. Vaping presents a tool to reduce the harm caused by smoking. For the greatest impact on smoking rates, vape products must remain affordable and be available in flavours that enable adult smokers to be successful quitting.

Contact - Darryl Tempest, Government Relations Counsel to the CVA Board, [email protected], 647-274-1867

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