Vape Store Channel Getting Unfair and Unwarranted Advantage Over C-Stores
TORONTO, Nov. 22, 2019 /CNW/ - The United Korean Canadian Industry Association (UKCIA), representing more than 2000 independent convenience store operators across the country, is disappointed that governments across Canada are creating a dangerous and potentially costly double standard with new regulations around vape product sales.
The UKCIA was formed in 2017 by consolidating the interests of provincial groups in British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba and Ontario. After being a long-standing trusted and regulated community retailer of many age-restricted products, members are frustrated by the actions of provincial governments that are seemingly making convenience stores out to be untrustworthy when it comes to selling vapour products; a proven and safer alternative to tobacco.
The overwhelming majority of convenience store operators in Canada are licensed tobacco retailers in their province. Their livelihood depends on them following strict regulations set out by government when it comes to ensuring minors cannot purchase age-restricted products such as lottery, tobacco and in some cases beverage alcohol. Convenience stores have been selling a limited range of vaping products since they first came to market more than 10 years ago. Being able to offer these safer alternatives to adult smokers has helped countless people quit the habit. Convenience stores have a long-standing and ever improving track record when it comes to compliance for checking customer ID. The 2018 public health units in Ontario found that convenience stores were 96.2% successful in checking ID of minors. Scores are even higher for Ontario Korean Businessmen's Association stores as a result of the trade association's dedicated efforts to ensure their members understand the regulations they must follow. Vape shops, that have sprung up all across the country and have operated largely without any sort of regulation until recently, cannot point to a similar track record of compliance.
Recently the province of British Columbia announced plans to restrict flavours to vape specific shops only and will also ban in-store promotional displays from convenience stores.
This decision will essentially limit the exposure current tobacco smokers have to a safer alternative. This week PEI announced legislation that will ban the sale of vaping products completely except in specialty vape shops. Shops that, unlike convenience stores who have a long-standing reputation with government, have little to no track record ensuring minors cannot purchase products in their stores. A recent study from Health Canada identified that the vast majority of teens who have tried vaping got access to products from a friend or relative. Almost twice as many reported getting products from a vape store than a convenience store.
"If provincial governments want to change or modify regulations around vaping products to protect youth, our members will support that", says UKCIA spokesperson Kenny Shim.
"However it is absolutely unfair and makes no sense that the vape shop channel, that was selling products in a completely unregulated environment before the federal government introduced legislation in 2018, is now getting an unfair advantage over our channel who have been trusted partners to governments across Canada to sell age-restricted products for decades. If governments are truly serious about protecting people's health, then regulatory changes and restrictions must be consistent and fair for all retailers." added Shim.
The membership of the UKCIA is deeply disappointed in provincial governments who are seemingly painting them to be untrustworthy when it comes to selling vaping products. Over the last decade hundreds of stores have closed across the country due to the unlevel playing field created by government's inaction against contraband tobacco. Now is not the time to create a second unlevel playing field for electronic cigarettes and other vaping products.
The UKCIA and their provincial chapters will be actively lobbying government for a fair and consistent approach for electronic cigarettes and vaping products across the country.
SOURCE United Korean Canadian Industry Association (UKCIA)
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