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TransLink blasted for allowing ads for vaping products in SkyTrain stations

WATCH: With the growing concerns about the health effects of vaping, TransLink is coming under criticism for putting ads for vaping products in SkyTrain stations. Paul Johnson reports.

TransLink is under fire for allowing ads for vaping products to be prominently displayed throughout at least one Vancouver SkyTrain station.

The underground platforms at Burrard Station are plastered with ads from Vype, a vaporizer manufacturer based in the UK. Nearly every wall past the Compass gates features a large promotion for its “ePOD” vaporizer.

The ads also feature language warning that nicotine is addictive, while also noting the ad’s message doesn’t “represent the opinions of, and are not endorsed by, TransLink or its subsidiaries.”

Ads for vape products displayed in the underground corridors of Burrard SkyTrain station in Vancouver.
Ads for vape products displayed in the underground corridors of Burrard SkyTrain station in Vancouver. Submitted
But one Global viewer said the advertisements are harmful and “aimed at [TransLink’s] young riders,” and said the agency shouldn’t be taking money from tobacco companies.
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Other riders said the ads amounted to a “double standard,” pointing to TransLink’s own advertising policy that states “no advertisements will be accepted which promotes any tobacco company, tobacco product or tobacco brand promotions.”

READ MORE: B.C. court overturns TransLink’s refusal to accept ads by anti-abortion group

But the same rules don’t apply to vaping products yet, something TransLink says allows them to display the ads under free speech laws.

“We’re a public body, so we’re unable to reject ads based on things like opinion or taste, and we have to follow the laws,” TransLink spokesperson Jill Drews said.

“While the ad may be distasteful to some, we have no basis under the law to reject it.”

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Drews said rejecting the ad could lead to a court challenge from the advertiser, and suggested anyone upset by the ad get in contact with Health Canada or their local representative.

Under the Tobacco and Vaping Products Act, advertising of vaping products is allowed as long as it includes language that conveys the health hazards and health effects linked to the product.

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READ MORE: Health Canada moving to restrict vape advertisements to youth

Health Canada proposed new guidelines earlier this year that greatly limits the advertising of vaping products in order to limit exposure to young people.

The restrictions, which have not yet been finalized, would bar ads from “certain public places where youth have access,” including public transit vehicles and stations.

TransLink would not comment on those proposals, saying its role as a public agency prevents it from giving an opinion.

READ MORE: Tobacco giant halts marketing blitz after product was pitched by 21-year-old model – younger than it allows

Vype is owned by Imperial Tobacco, which is itself a subsidiary of British American Tobacco.

The vaporizer line was introduced in 2017 as a way to help Health Canada reach its goal of having less than five per cent of the population smoking traditional cigarettes by 2035, Imperial Tobacco’s president and CEO Jorge Araya said at a product launch in Toronto in 2018.

—With files from Paul Johnson and the Canadian Press

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