A New Brunswick judge has reserved his decision on a motion to suspend the province’s ban on flavoured e-cigarettes.
Judge Terrance Morrison of the Court of Queen’s Bench heard arguments in a Burton, N.B., courtroom Tuesday and will deliver his decision on Thursday.
The province has banned e-cigarette flavours, except for tobacco flavour, since last September, but some store owners want to be able to resume sales pending their full court challenge.
A constitutional challenge to the legislation was filed in the Court of Queen’s Bench last September.
The plaintiffs are also seeking to halt a requirement for specialty vape stores to obtain a licence. That requirement is due to come into force this Friday, April 1.
Lawyers for the plaintiffs argued that without the flavoured products, people trying to quit smoking will go back to smoking tobacco, which poses a greater health risk.
“In order to quit and stay quit, those people say they need the flavours,” lawyer Mel Norton told the court.
He said the province’s legislation denies access to a harm-reduction strategy. “It is smoking combustible cigarettes that kills people,” he said.
Meanwhile, lawyer Joan Kasozi said smoking addiction is severe enough to be considered a disability and the flavour ban impacts access to a less harmful product.
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She said the government has not shown the flavour ban will reduce consumption and noted the province owns and operates Cannabis NB, which sells chocolate-flavour edibles and gummy bears infused with cannabis.
Lawyers for the province say if the legislation is struck down, it will result in a jump in youth vaping rates.
Rob Cunningham, a lawyer for the Canadian Cancer Society who was observing the hearing, agrees with the province’s position.
“The widespread availability of flavours has been an important factor to increase youth vaping in New Brunswick and in Canada,” Cunningham told reporters outside the court.
Cunningham dismissed the argument of the plaintiffs, noting that people attempting to quit smoking still have access to e-cigarettes that are unflavoured or tobacco flavoured.
Similar bans on flavoured e-cigarettes are in place in Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and the Northwest Territories, and last year, a motion to suspend Nova Scotia’s legislation was dismissed by the Nova Scotia Supreme Court.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 29, 2022.