Push for ban on vape flavours in Quebec following survey results

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This article has been updated to include the survey sample size. 

Quebec has the third-highest vaping rate in Canada, according to a recent survey, and an anti-tobacco group is calling for tightened regulations to prevent more people from picking up the habit.

Six per cent of Quebecers older than 15 vaped in the 30 days before they were surveyed, the 2021 Canadian Tabacco and Nicotine Survey (CTNS) found.

By comparison, the national average was 5 per cent. Quebec was passed only by Prince Edward Island at 8 per cent and New Brunswick at 9 per cent.

The survey collected responses from a group of 9,908 people ages 15 and older

"In light of these results, we can see that the measures governing vaping have not been sufficient to reverse the phenomenon of vaping," reads a press release from the Coalition québécoise pour le contrôle du tabac.

Quebec does have some restrictions on the advertising and sale of vapes.

As is the case for tobacco products like cigarettes, it's illegal to sell vapes to minors, and advertising is restricted to publications where the vast majority of readers are over 18.

Plus, like smoking, vaping is restricted in many public spaces.

A MATTER OF TASTE

But there's one area where restrictions on smoking and vaping don't match: flavours.

While adding flavours to cigarettes is prohibited, flavouring the liquids used in vaping products is still allowed in Quebec.

According to the survey, fruit and menthol are the most vaped flavours country-wide, and fruit was most popular among people ages 15 to 19, with 65 per cent of vape users saying it was their preference.

In December 2020, the Quebec Health Ministry said it planned to "prohibit the sale of vaping products with a non-tobacco flavour or aroma," but this change has yet to occur.

"What is Minister Dubé waiting for to ban fruit and menthol flavours in vaping liquids, as other provinces and territories have already done?" said coalition co-director Flory Doucas.

"He had announced [...] that it was imperative to act, particularly on the issue of flavours, to protect young people from nicotine addiction."

The Health Ministry has yet to respond to a request for comment.

The coalition stressed how very few young vapers chose tobacco as their preferred flavour (1 per cent), while 14 per cent of those 25 and up said it was theirs.

This is likely because, according to the survey, 61 per cent of 15 to 19-year-olds have never smoked tobacco before.

"This finding suggests that the majority of youth are not using vaping devices to reduce or quit smoking," the survey reads.

According to the coalition, this data goes against arguments made by vaping groups that "vaping is synonymous with quitting smoking."  

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