The Canadian Vaping Association has taken a stance of strong opposition to the Enforcement Action Plan set out by Edmonton Police Service.
In a press conference held last week, Edmonton Police Service outlined future steps it intends to take in order to combat underage vaping, primarily through stronger enforcement of existing legislation. The crux of the dispute is that, according to the Canadian Vaping Association, Edmonton Police Service is adding its own interpretation to that legislation. Specifically, Edmonton Police Service has categorized vapor products as tobacco products and, on the basis of that, intends to stop small businesses such as vape shops from selling flavored e-liquids or devices such as JUUL which contain flavored e-liquids in disposable pods.
According to Shawn Kreger, Canadian Vaping Association board member and owner of Edmonton based River City Vapes:
“The placement of vaping products into the same category as tobacco is a puzzling move given that the Alberta Tobacco and Smoking Reduction Act makes no specific reference to vaping. In fact, public health campaigners and the City of Edmonton have been lobbying for provincial legislation because they argue that federal legislation which restricts the promotion and advertising of vaping to reduce the appeal of these products to youth does not go far enough.”
It appears, then, that Edmonton Police Service would be engaging in substantive overreach if it pursues enforcement action based on what it prefers the law to say, rather than confining enforcement actions to what the law does, in fact, say. This would, according to reporting from Newswire, undercut federal legislation which differentiates tobacco from vapor products based on the harm reduction effectiveness of the latter category.
It is unknown at this time whether Alberta Health is aligned with or opposed to Edmonton Police Service’s strategy. The Canadian Vaping Association is set to challenge the Enforcement Action Plan. According to Kreger:
“As a vape shop owner and anti-smoking activist I am dually and deeply affected by these efforts and am seeking clarity. Before we jump to solutions and start doling out punishment on well-intentioned small business owners, we need to have a clear and shared understanding of the legal parameters and the problems they aim to address.”