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Flavoured vape ban could put stores in jeopardy, owner says

Provincial ban on flavoured e-liquid aims to reduce youth vaping

5 min read
caption Vape stores carry hundreds of different flavours for customers to purchase. When the provincial legislation goes into effect, the only ones available will be tobacco flavoured, or non-flavoured.
Benjamin Elliott

Vape store owners in Halifax Regional Municipality worry that an impending provincial ban of flavoured e-liquids for nicotine vaporizers will force them to close their businesses.

Bill McEachern owns and operates The Cloud Factory in Dartmouth. He is one of the 65 vape shop owners in the province who will be affected by the ban. He said his employees are hoping for the best, but planning for the worst.

“We’re just holding on to hope that it’s not set in stone. We’re trying to be more hopeful,” he said.

The provincial ban, announced on Dec. 5, would only allow storefronts to sell flavourless or tobacco flavoured e-liquid. The province implemented the ban as a first step to address youth vaping and committed to rolling out a public education campaign this year.

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The Nova Scotia Department of Health and Wellness also announced that it will introduce legislation this year to further address vaping.

“Our biggest concern is that people will only have two options; flavourless and tobacco, and they don’t want to be reminded of tobacco every time they take a puff because they’re trying to get away from it,” McEachern said.

The U.K.-based Royal College of Physicians published a study in 2016 suggesting the health impacts of vaping is unlikely to exceed five per cent of the harm from smoking tobacco.

“We don’t know the long-term effects of vaping yet, but we know that it’s less harmful than inhaling combustible tobacco,” McEachern said.

McEachern said flavourless and tobacco-flavoured products only account for around three per cent of his sales, so the hit to his business would be considerable.

“Realistically, I don’t know what we’re going to do. My six full-time employees are aware that they may be out of a job at the end of this,” he said.

caption The Cloud Factory in Dartmouth is one of the 65 vape stores in Nova Scotia that will be affected by the flavour ban. Owner Bill McEachern says they will likely have to close.
Benjamin Elliott

McEachern’s main concern is the consumer potentially going back to something that is proven to be harmful.

“If it’s going to drive people back to smoking, it’s a death sentence for 67 per cent of those people,” he said.

The University of Waterloo published a study in 2017 on tobacco use in Canada, suggesting use in Nova Scotia is about 18.5 per cent among adults, which is 3.4 per cent higher than the national average of 15.1 per cent.

Sherwin Edwards is the founder of VapSelect, a Canadian e-liquid company, based in Hawkesbury, Ont. More recently, Edwards started Rights4Vapers, a consumer rights advocacy group focused on keeping the public informed and working toward evidence-based regulations on vaping.

Consumer awareness is something Edwards and his group are trying to improve moving forward.

“Our objective is to create awareness, engage the consumer, get the media to look at the other side of the coin and inform the general public on what the other side of the table represents,” said Edwards.

“We want to arrive at a happy medium which will continue to allow consumers access to the flavours that are helping them transition, while at the same time putting restraint on youth access.”

Edwards, who lives in Hawkesbury, Ont., said Nova Scotia’s imminent ban is too heavy-handed.

“The flavour ban is going to have a huge impact on brick and mortar retailers and will take away an important component for smokers to transition away from combustible tobacco” Edwards said.

caption Dartmouth vape store owner Bill McEachern holds 3 of the countless e-liquid bottles. He said these are some of his best sellers – flavours he’ll no longer be legally allowed to sell after April 1, 2020
Benjamin Elliott

Edwards would like to see Nova Scotia adopt some of the same practices as other provinces, rather than a blanket ban on flavours. Ontario no longer allows vaping advertisements in convenience stores, and British Columbia has increased the tax applied to vaporizers, accessories and e-liquids.

McEachern agreed.

“In other areas in North America, they’re following the proper model to what we believe would help. One part is removing high-nicotine products,” he said. “Studies are showing that that’s what kids are after, it’s the buzz that they’re getting from it.”

McEachern said he’d like to see e-cigarette products removed from “easy-access points” like gas stations and convenience stores. He said one of the main issues is the lack of strict identification protocol compared to licensed stores like his.

“It’s a mandatory process and it has been since day one,” he said.

Edwards said his store is also tough on potential underage customers.You can’t even walk into his store without ringing a buzzer, and ID is required for anyone who looks to be 25 years old or younger.

“I’m passionate about this subject matter and at the end of the day, enough is enough. The consumer needs to be aware,” Edwards said. “The government needs to be transparent and the media needs to share balanced information so that the consumer and the general public can make an informed decision on these products and the industry as a whole.”

Edwards said next week he’s participating in an iPolitics panel about vaping with other advocates. Rights4Vapers is also in the process of organizing a synchronized rally in Ottawa, Vancouver and Halifax that he hopes will take place sometime within the next month..

The provincial ban takes effect on April 1, 2020.

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About the author

Benjamin Elliott

Ben Elliott is a reporter for the Signal at King's College in Halifax. He got his HBA in Communication Studies from the University of Waterloo...

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  1. j

    janet webster

    The government should simply do what is now being done in the states if they feel they MUST ban something -- Thats is they should ban the flavored Juul pods. It is stupid and irrelevant to ban the regular (ie bigger costlier, available only in licensed vape shops) products. From what I have seen younger people (ie early 20's etc) tend to prefer Juul type products as they are cheaper, smaller and have much more nicotine. The truth is if youth are after anything with vaping it is not flavors but high nicotine that is the draw. In reality we all know that the issue is NOT really youth health at all -- it is the fact that the govt is running scared due to loss of cigarette revenue.
  2. B

    Benjamin Smith

    Anyone who has not been gripped by tobaccos hold does NOT understand how crippling the cycle of addiction is and also therefore does not qualify for an opinion on the matter. One of the largest appeals of vaping vs smoking is being able to ween off nicotine gradually while having a taste that's reasonably pleasant to the palette (where as tobacco is nasty). I smoked for over 20 years and thanks to juice flavors like Grape and Dragonfruit and I was able to get my life back and get out from under the governments grip. Banning flavors will cripple businesses who are dedicated to helping smokers make that leap for themselves, and leave smokers with less options (continue to smoke or use other quit methods that aren't effective for them). The government needs a better model plan that can protect both consumers and its local businesses while restricting access and harsher penalities for businesses that violate the regulations.
  3. M


    I would never agree with this industry! Flavours should be ban without a question! I don't car if you open a store and put all your money into it find another job it is that simple this industry would not of last! I'm sorry i know owners of vape store that they litteraly give open cartridge e cigarette to their kids showing them how to use it and this is just so wrong and people saying that this device is an healthier alternative it is not it is plain and ridiculous i am just so dissapointed that the gouvernment from before did not take control and ban this ridiculous inventtion called flavours this here is targeting kids im sorry and im not talking about anything like what the convicence store sells i am talking about vape stores!!!!! Doug Ford and his crew has a responsabilitie on their plate ban this stupid stuff and move on to the next issue!
  4. E

    Eva Campbell

    I have been vaping for 10 years and for 10 years it has been flavors. The nicotine level was never over 24mg. Vaping wasn't even on the radar of the 'youth' for 9 of those years. So what happened in the past year? Big tobacco happened. They finally enter the vaping market with a stealth device and ridiculous amounts of nicotine. I have tried those devices, believe me, they are not vaping them for the flavor, they are vaping them for the head rush you get from 59mg of nicotine. What needs to be done is to strengthen the laws around youth vaping and smoking. Presently it is illegal for someone to sell vape or cigarettes to minors, but nothing in place to punish the youth that is using it. Making it illegal for adults to vape flavors, will not stop a kid from doing something illegal.
  5. B


    What's sad is that it seems like Nova Scotia eats its own. Many people took a risk to start a business and they all seem successful now the provincial government wants to shut them down without any proven science. Most business owners included vape shop owners are adults and realize the risk of letting children have this stuff, so it is very disappointing that the government would pass a ban like this with no vote and not try to work with local businesses to create safeguards for these kind of things. I really hope people in the city see this and think about how they vote, not because of vape alone, but because of the total lack of accountability the government is demonstrating. The opposition isn't even trying to help on this matter.
    • m


      Why would the opposition help?! There is nothing to help and this is their own problem that they open a vape business this is not a food restaurant or grocery store we are talking about the vape industry something that neeeds to be regulate and the flavours got out of control. I predicted this issue would of happen because of endless flavours. I do not care that this is how you make your money at the pace you are making money you are def destroying the lives of thousands of teenagers! Find yourself a new job!This is not an argument or a negociation this here is a health hazzard this here kills people! This here will be treated like tobacco! People won' t go back to tobacco it stinks and smells bad they will vape what is available your arguments is because you want those killer shops to stay open
      • B


        Mar, you say it is bad, then say we will vape what is available. Are you not saying that vaping is NOT bad then? What difference would a flavour be other than making it more enjoyable to the user. Youth vaping only became big when tobacco companies introduced HIGH nicotine levels to the market. You say bad, then say ok. It can't be both.
      • A


        People will go back to tobacco. And it's the stealth and juul pod systems and other high tobacco pod systems that are out now. Ban them and put stricter rules on vaping there you go less of a "hazzard", not trying to start anything but I'd like to see NS work something put cause I do t want that ban coming to NB
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