Canada Must Follow The Lead of Italy, France, Spain and Switzerland And Treat Vape Shops As An Essential Service
23 mars 2020
Canada Must Follow The Lead of Italy, France, Spain and Switzerland And Treat Vape Shops As An Essential Service

While Canadians watch unprecedented events unfold surrounding the COVID-19 crisis, including the closure of retail shops around the country, the CVA strongly agrees with the need for social distancing. We recognize that it is best for the protection of our citizens and fully support the recommendations of our medical professionals. However, as has been emphasized by many clinicians, former smokers and researchers, vaping is a critical tool for many in managing their nicotine addiction. Flavoured nicotine e-liquids are the key for many reformed smokers, 90% of which use low nicotine options that are only available in adult-only access product vape shops. 

 “We are asking all Canadian governments to follow the steps taken by Italy’s Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte on the advice of Dr. Riccardo Polosa, a world-renowned scientist and researcher on vaping and harm reduction, to ensure vapers have access to the products they require to stay off of combustible tobacco,” said Darryl Tempest, Executive Director of The Canadian Vaping Association.  While the world is facing extreme public health risks associated with public gatherings, Italy, one of the regions hit the hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic, is treating vape shops as an essential service by allowing them to continue to operate while other retailers are being shut down. 

France, Spain and Switzerland have followed suit and are also ensuring vape shops stay open so that vapers in those countries have access to the products they require. Vaping has been shown to be the most successful harm reduction tool in the fight against combustible tobacco. The decision made in these countries to keep vape shops open will ensure that those that have switched to vaping are not forced to return to smoking combustible tobacco. 

Dr. Polosa indicated that vapers switching back to smoking would cause a rise in acute exacerbation of lung illnesses amongst many individuals who had seen extremely beneficial health impacts from quitting smoking through the use of vape products. “The closure of adult-only access specialty vape shops would be very detrimental, both to the reformed smokers that frequent these establishments and to our already stretched health care system, at a time when our citizens and public health system need our support the most. This in addition to the gateway effect for those who will return to smoking, exposing others to second-hand smoke along with a host of other unintended consequences, highlights the importance of keeping lifesaving nicotine vape products in the hands of Canadians,” said Tempest. Tempest went on to say, “Health officials in Italy, France, Spain and Switzerland have taken a massive step towards supporting the health of vapers in their regions, particularly those with pre-existing lung illness, by ensuring access to the vape products they require to keep them off of combustible tobacco”.

Research suggests that only 3-10% of smokers can successfully quit smoking cold turkey. Continued and secured access to vaping products is imperative to vapers to keep them from returning to combustible tobacco products, particularly in light of the increased anxiety and mental stress many former smokers and current vapers will experience in the context of the pandemic. The added anxiety that would come from limiting vapers access to nicotine vape products during an already difficult time, will inevitably push vapers back to easily accessible combustible tobacco products.

The CVA is asking for all governments to consider adult-only access vape shops as an essential service. There are an estimated 1.1 million vapers across Canada that rely on vape shops to ensure that they don’t return to smoking or turn to black market homemade e-liquids to satisfy their nicotine cravings. The availability of these products through retail locations is of extreme importance to reformed smokers. We need governments across Canada to work with The CVA and the 1,200 vape shops across our nation to ensure that those addicted to nicotine are not forced to returning to the use of combustible tobacco products, our nations leading cause of death, nor to the extremely high-nicotine content products sold by Big Tobacco vape brands through the convenience store channel. Adult-only access vape shops must be allowed to continue to operate under the social distancing guidelines as prescribed by public health.

By working with industry, our governments and public health officials we can ensure we don’t send hundreds of thousands of vapers in Canada back to smoking or expose them to high nicotine levels, feeding increased addiction. Specialty vape shop owners will continue to implement and comply with all prescribed precautions as recommended by health authorities for the protection of all Canadians.

About the Canadian Vaping Association

The Canadian Vaping Association (thecva.org) is a registered national, not-for-profit organization, established as the voice for the burgeoning Canadian vaping industry. Founded in 2014, the CVA represents over 300 retail and online vaping businesses in Canada, not including tobacco companies or affiliates. The association is the primary liaison with the federal and provincial governments on all legislative and regulatory issues related to the industry. The primary goal of CVA is to ensure that government regulation is reasonable and practical, through the strategy of professional proactive communication and education supplied bilingually to health officers, media, and elected officials.
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