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Alberta vape shop turns to age-gating to discourage youth from vaping

Click to play video: 'Age-gating when it comes to vaping' Age-gating when it comes to vaping
WATCH ABOVE: Vape shops are worried about what the future could hold for their sales of flavoured products as the conversation around banning them grows. – Sep 2, 2021

As the conversation around the ban on selling flavored vape products continues to grow, a Calgary-based vape retailer is trying something different.

Health Canada put forward draft regulations in June that would restrict all e-cigarette flavours except tobacco, mint and menthol. It’s part of an effort to discourage youth from vaping by making it less enticing.

Read more: Health Canada proposes ban on most vaping flavours to curb appeal among youth

For vape shops, this could mean losing a rather large part of their sales, and it’s not the underage buyers they’re worried about losing.

“We don’t want our products in the hands of minors either, but we do want to have the adult side left alone,” said Danielle Chesney, CEO and co-founder of Alt Vape.

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In 2019 they added ID scanners to their stores in Lethbridge, Calgary and Edmonton. This summer, they took age-gating online.

“All we’re required to do right now is just a simple visual check of the identification,” said Chesney.

“If we’re willing to show them that we’re willing to put the onus on us and take this a step further we can show them that we’re on the right side of history here.”

Click to play video: 'Experimentation driving youth vaping rates: Canadian Vaping Association' Experimentation driving youth vaping rates: Canadian Vaping Association
Experimentation driving youth vaping rates: Canadian Vaping Association – Apr 29, 2021

Even just to access the Alt Vape website, users have to prove they’re not underaged. They scan a QR code with their smartphone, which then prompts them to scan their ID.

A second ID scan will take place when Alt Vape delivers the package, using the same software as online.

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“We can still protect ages 0-17 in Alberta while still offering these products to 18-99-years-olds,” said Chesney. “This is something we can be left to do because we can do it responsibly.”

Read more: 1st case of severe vaping-related illness reported in Alberta

Teen vaping rates rose in Alberta to 30 per cent among high school-aged teens in 2018-2019.

Dr. Brent Friesen, the medical officer of health for tobacco, vaping and cannabis program with Alberta Health Services said that while technology can help, it’s not the answer to the problem of underage vaping. He believes they will still be able to get the product, especially if it’s still flavoured.

“They’re just so appealing for youth. We know that is the major reason why they try or experiment with vaping products,” said Friesen. “So without addressing that, we’re going to continue to see challenges with youth vaping.”

Click to play video: 'Total flavour ban only way to address youth vaping: Lung Association of Saskatchewan' Total flavour ban only way to address youth vaping: Lung Association of Saskatchewan
Total flavour ban only way to address youth vaping: Lung Association of Saskatchewan – Apr 29, 2021

He added that vaping can lead to short and long term health effects. When heated, the flavouring agents can cause irritation and damage to lungs. Nicotine also affects the brain, which continues to develop until the age of 25.

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The nicotine is where it can be dangerous, especially for those underage, Friesen said.

Read more: Nicotine concentration limit in vape products being proposed by Health Canada

“What the tobacco and vaping companies are doing is using the flavours to attract people to try or experiment with the vaping and then have the nicotine addict them so that they continue to vape,” said Friesen.

Chesney is hopeful that their age-gating can change the minds of people, and Health Canada, when it comes to the sale of flavoured vape products.

“This would effectively be the right way to show Health Canada that we can be responsible, we can keep these products basically out of sight out of mind for youth.”

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