Ontario Vape Shops Are Essential and Must Stay Open

Hamilton, ON, March 24, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — On March 23, Premier Doug Ford released the list of essential services which will continue to operate amidst the COVID-19 outbreak. Despite the inclusion of liquor and cannabis based businesses, adult-only specialty vape shops and vape product manufacturers and distributors were not specifically listed as an essential service.The Canadian Vaping Association (CVA) has repeatedly voiced it’s concerns about limiting access to harm reduction products. “The Government of Ontario has taken many positive steps towards protecting Ontarian’s physical and mental health.  We ask them to continue by including vape shops as an essential service, qualifying under section 55 of the Ontario List of Essential Workplaces prepared in response to COVID-19”, said Darryl Tempest, Executive Director of The Canadian Vaping Association. “Many vapers who require nicotine vapour products do not have access to online channels. By limiting sales to e-commerce only, the black market will flourish, and unsafe products will enter the market. Additionally, vapers with the ability to order online may be forced back to smoking to cope with the mental stress of these difficult times as they wait for online orders to ship with no other access point available. It is also important to note that, as a result of the pandemic, Canada Post has changed their age verified shipping procedure to require recipients of adult only products purchased online to show ID at a depot instead of their home.  As such, the online model does not even serve to eliminate contact within our communities.”Tempest went on to state, “Vaping has been proven to be the most successful tool in the fight against combustible tobacco.  Vape shop retailers and product suppliers provide products and services that support the health sector though the provision of low nicotine harm reduction products, and also serve to support mental health by satisfying the nicotine addiction of vapers, the vast majority of which are reformed smokers . As such, these businesses very clearly fall within the definition of an essential service as provided in section 55 of the Ontario List of Essential Workplaces.  Unlike many of the services listed here by the Ontario Government, adult only vape shops are registered with our local health units in the province of Ontario. By working together we can implement all necessary measures to keep Ontarians safe without adding additional stress and anxiety to the lives of the hundreds of thousands of vapers in Ontario during what is an already difficult time”.The CVA strongly agrees with the need for social distancing. We recognize that it is best for the protection of our citizens and fully support the recommendations of our medical professionals. However, as has been emphasized by many clinicians, former smokers and researchers, vaping is a critical tool for many in managing their nicotine addiction. Flavoured nicotine e-liquids are the key for many reformed smokers, 90% of which use low nicotine options that are only available in adult-only access product vape shops.Dr. Polosa, a world-renowned scientist and researcher on vaping and harm reduction, indicated that vapers switching back to smoking would cause a rise in acute exacerbation of lung illnesses amongst many individuals who had seen extremely beneficial health impacts from quitting smoking through the use of vape products.  Tempest says, “The closure of adult-only access specialty vape shops would be very detrimental, both to the reformed smokers that frequent these establishments and to our already stretched health care system, at a time when our citizens and public health system need our support the most. This in addition to the gateway effect for those who will return to smoking, exposing others to secondhand smoke along with a host of other unintended consequences, highlight the importance of keeping lifesaving nicotine vape products in the hands of Canadians.”Many vape shops have implemented new policies which follow social distancing recommendations to protect staff and the public. These policies include phone in orders, where customers call in their order and are met outside by staff. These orders are pre-paid and eliminate cash handling while minimizing physical interaction between customers and staff. Additionally, many stores still allowing customers to enter the premises are allowing only one person in their shops at a time and are following significant sanitation protocols to ensure the safety of both consumers and staff.The CVA urges governments to specifically list vape shops and the related manufacturers and distributors as an essential service, similar to liquor and cannabis operations.  Stores will continue to implement all required procedures to keep Canadian’s safe during these unprecedented times and will continue to encourage the use of phone in systems to eliminate cash handling and reduce physical interaction. We must work together to ensure that thousands of Canadians vapers have access to the products they require to remain free of combustible tobacco, a product that we know kills one in two users.About the Canadian Vaping AssociationThe Canadian Vaping Association (thecva.org) is a registered national, not-for-profit organization, established as the voice for the burgeoning Canadian vaping industry. Founded in 2014, the CVA represents over 300 retail and online vaping businesses in Canada, not including tobacco companies or affiliates. The association is the primary liaison with the federal and provincial governments on all legislative and regulatory issues related to the industry. The primary goal of CVA is to ensure that government regulation is reasonable and practical, through the strategy of professional proactive communication and education supplied bilingually to health officers, media, and elected officials.
For more information, please contact:
 Darryl Tempest
The Canadian Vaping Association 6472741867
dtempest@thecva.org

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