Bill 45 was proposed by the Ontario Liberal government and received royal assent on May 28, 2015. It includes three subsections but the most relevant is the introduction of the Electronic Cigarettes Act 2015 (henceforth known as ECA). This act will have a negative impact on the use of e-cigarettes and vaporizers in Ontario by essentially treating them the same as tobacco products.
Currently, there are no laws restricting the sale and use of these devices. The culture in Toronto has evolved in such a way that vape shops are also vape lounges. Customers can walk in and test e-juice before making a purchase, or sit on a couch and vape their own devices freely. The former has been an important component for first-time buyers who may not have any idea what sort of flavours they like. This practice has made vaping seem less intimidating to newcomers, who can try the activity of vaping before even making a purchase. The ECA will make this practice illegal, among other things, and will probably lessen the likelihood of a smoker becoming a vaper.
Here is a breakdown of the ECA and its real world effects:
“No person shall sell or supply an electronic cigarette to a person who is less than 19 years old.”
It is standard practice for vape shops to refuse sales to minors. To solidify this into law is an excellent idea as young people should not be addicted to nicotine.
“No person shall, in any place where electronic cigarettes are sold or offered for sale, display or permit the display of electronic cigarettes in any manner that would permit a consumer to view or handle an electronic cigarette before purchasing it.”
What this means is that vape shops cannot display any equipment; all vaporizers and e-cigarettes must be hidden and cannot be tried before making a purchase. This also means that a vape shop employee cannot show customers how to use the device or troubleshoot any problems that arise. They can’t answer questions or provide any real customer service.
“No person shall promote electronic cigarettes,”
This clause bans advertising, special sales, or in-store promotions.
Essentially the ECA will turn the current, inviting experience of vaping into a clandestine affair. Imagine walking into a shop where nothing is displayed and nobody can talk to you about their products. You have to know what you’re going to purchase without seeing or trying it, and without knowing whether you will like the flavours chosen. Shops won’t even be able to provide a list of flavours or prices (AKA a “menu”). This legislation will turn vaping into an underground, elitist club rife with misinformation and an inability to communicate freely. And the worst part is that inspectors can fine individuals who contravene the ECA up to $100,000 if they so choose.
There are ongoing debates about the nature of vaping, and how it should be viewed/policed by the government. All parties agree there needs to be some regulations, but those enacted by the ECA are undoubtedly overly strict. Vaping is a $3 billion industry in the U.S, and is also very strong in Canada. How many independent shops will have to close their doors because they cannot provide adequate customer service? The ECA will mean the death of small business in this industry.
I invite you to sign the petition on change.org to call for realistic regulations regarding vaping in Ontario.