Vape Shops are Being Wrongly Fined for Operating as an Essential Service
April 2nd 2020 8:00am
Vape Shops are Being Wrongly Fined for Operating as an Essential Service

On April 2, CHCH published an article stating that an Oakville vape shop had been fined by police for operating as a non-essential service. The article also noted the shop was fined for selling vape products to minors. 

The Canadian Vaping Association (CVA) condemns the sale of adult products to minors. “This is not representative of our industry nor the values held by industry stakeholders,” said Darryl Tempest, Executive Director of The Canadian Vaping Association. “We commend law enforcement for ensuring that irresponsible and negligent shop owners are held accountable for their actions. However, it is important to note this store is the exception and not the rule. The industry is prudent in ensuring products stay out of the hands of youth,” continued Tempest.

While the CVA admonishes the sale of vapour products to youth, the article’s statement that vape shops are non-essential is incorrect. It is imperative that both the public and law enforcement receive clarification that adult-only vape shops are in fact an essential service. According to both the “List of Essential Services” published by the Government of Ontario and representatives of the task force charged with answering inquiries regarding this list, adult-only vape shops have been given essential service status under section 55 which includes “Businesses that provide products and/or services that support the health sector or that provide health services, including mental health and addictions and counselling supports.” The aim of the Emergency Order is to (a) limit to every extent possible interpersonal contact between workers and with customers while (b) protecting resources for essential services that relate to core human needs or the pandemic response. The CVA has released protocols so that vape shops across the industry can operate using curbside service. These protocols include contactless transactions, thus fulfilling the aim of the Emergency Order.

Vaping has been proven to be the most successful tool in the fight against combustible tobacco. Vape shop retailers and product suppliers provide products and services that support the health sector through the provision of low nicotine harm reduction products, and also serve to support mental health by satisfying the nicotine addiction of vapers, the vast majority of which are reformed smokers. As such, these businesses very clearly fall within the definition of an essential service.

Research suggests that only 3-10% of smokers can successfully quit smoking cold turkey. Most smokers and vapers are both physically addicted to nicotine and psychologically addicted to the act of smoking or vaping. As a result, when they give up such habits, their bodies experience withdrawal symptoms such as irritability, insomnia, and depression, which can last up to three months. The added anxiety and mental stress during an already difficult time will inevitably push vapers back to easily accessible combustible tobacco products. Access to vape shops thus prevents further strain on our health care system, at a time when our citizens and public health system need our support the most.

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