Edmonton vape shops say city police misinterpreting provincial law

Click to play video: 'Vape businesses say Edmonton police misinterpreting laws' Vape businesses say Edmonton police misinterpreting laws
WATCH ABOVE: Vape shop owners say an Edmonton police crackdown could put them out of business and that officers are misinterpreting the legislation. Kendra Slugoski reports. – Jul 10, 2019

A number of vape shop owners in Edmonton say city police are jumping the gun and over-stepping boundaries with the force’s crackdown on flavoured products.

Last month, the Edmonton Police Service announced it was going to send out compliance letters to vape shop owners and warn them about selling to minors along with flavoured tobacco products.

READ MORE: Edmonton police, nurses team up to combat teen vaping

The EPS said after education, it would move on to enforcement, which could result in a $10,000 fine for the first offence and up to $100,000 for the second offence.

“The legislation is there,” Const. Bryan Alm said, “we just need to enforce it.”

Alm, a school resource officer said he’s witnessed more and more teens hooked on vaping and said schools are dealing with vaping students as young as Grade 5.

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“You cannot sell flavoured nicotine products,” said Alm. “You cannot have advertising outside of your store.”

READ MORE: Alberta government adds menthol to flavoured tobacco ban

David Niu, the owner of Zen Vape at 50 Street and 128 Avenue in northeast Edmonton (along with a south location on Ellerslie Road) said he has not yet received a warning from police. If and when he does, he will consult with a lawyer.

“It’s a very, very big deal for us,” said Niu. “A little bit over 90 per cent of the products are flavoured.”

Niu said losing the sale of flavoured tobacco, which he says some people use to quit smoking, would shut down his business.

Watch below (June 25): Edmonton police and nursing students are teaming up to teach kids about the dangers of vaping. Fletcher Kent has more.

Click to play video: 'EPS, nursing students warn kids about vaping' EPS, nursing students warn kids about vaping
EPS, nursing students warn kids about vaping – Jun 25, 2019

READ MORE: Health coalition pushing Alberta government to do more to stop youth smoking

The province said the Alberta Tobacco and Smoking Reduction Act (TSRA) was written before vaping exploded and does not explicitly address vaping products.

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Health Minister Tyler Shandro is preparing to review that act and look into whether or not vape products should be regulated the same way as tobacco products.

“EPS is applying an interpretation of the act and that’s their prerogative,” said Shandro’s spokesperson, Steve Buick.

“It’s up to our government to determine the status of vaping and vape products and the act, to provide clarity to EPS and other stakeholders, and that’s what we’re going to do.”

Niu said he is in favour of police zoning in on illegal sales and shops selling to minors — but is calling on city police to tap the brakes on product enforcement until the province makes the law clear.

“They are enforcing on a law that [doesn’t] yet exist, in my opinion.”

Watch below (Sept. 10, 2014): One year after Alberta MLAs passed a bill banning flavoured tobacco, the law has yet to be proclaimed. That as anti-smoking groups pressing the premier-designate. Fletcher Kent has the story.

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