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Battle wages between Ontario vapers and “cigarette lobbyists”

Ontario vapers have wasted little time in going after a convenience store association who went after vaping with an unusual and unforeseen attack.

Vapor Advocates on Ontario (VAO) have quickly got their act together and are using the VapingIsntSmoking.com site in order to appeal to vapers to send an email highlighting the benefits of vaping to Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and Eric Hoskins, Ontario’s Minister of Health. The VAO are a group made up of vaping enthusiasts and shop owners.

So what’s been going on? The Ontario Convenience Store Association (OSCA) contacted the same two politicians, arguing that vape stores were able to offer free samples to customers since they were adult-only stores – yet they couldn’t do this in convenience stores as they are also open to underage citizens. Indeed, current legislation means that convenience stores have to keep tobacco products hidden.

But what’s really going on here? Would convenience stores sales really be affected on whether they could offer vaping samples to customers or not? Of course not. What the aim really is here is to hold up cigarette sales, by preventing people by any means possible from trying out vaping. In the event of samples banned in vape stores, smokers would inevitably be less likely (if only slightly) to try out vaping, instead keeping smoking and protecting the cigarette industry. The VAO are rightly livid about these tactics and have called them out on it.

While vaping may be struggling to keep its footing in the U.S., it’s having more luck in Canada, thanks in part to University of Ottawa professor, David Sweanor, known for advocating tobacco harm reduction. An expert in tobacco control, Sweanor is a keen supporter of vaping and is on the VAO’s side here.

Sweanor says that attempts to treat cigarettes on the same level as vaping products only helps serve cigarette companies. The logic being that by restricting access to other products, smokers will find it harder to stop.

The VAO’s 2016 campaign against vaping regulations in Toronto was strongly supported by Sweanor – who spoke at a rally. However, the VAO weren’t quick enough to prevent that legislation from going through, which is why they’ve been speedy in going after this latest attack.

The signs are, if social media is anything to go by, that the VAO will win this battle, which should give hope to vapers across Canada and in the U.S. too that they can make a difference if they organize well.

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