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The debate over whether Quebec should ban all flavoured vapes

Click to play video: 'Will Quebec prohibit flavoured vapes?'
Will Quebec prohibit flavoured vapes?
WATCH: Quebec appears poised to ban flavoured vapes. Health Minister Christian Dubé is analyzing public health recommendations about the matter. But he says he is concerned about the risks of vaping for young people -- and plans to take action. As Global's Dan Spector reports, the vape industry is fuming. – Mar 2, 2023

In downtown Montreal you can’t walk around for long without seeing someone vaping, and it feels like you can barely throw a stone without hitting a vape shop.

“I would say a lot more people do it than parents think,” said Dawson College student David Bensemana.

A big portion of Quebec’s vape businesses may soon go up in smoke.  The Health Ministry told Global News the effects of vaping especially on young people are of great concern.

“We already announced we will put a new tax in place on vaping products, and we want to go further with other recommendations,” said Antoine de la Durantaye, a spokesperson for Health Minister Christian Dubé.

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The vape industry is bracing for the government to ban all flavours.

“It would appear from every indication that they plan to do that, yes,” said Darryl Tempest of the Canadian Vaping Association.

Electronic cigarettes are available in many fruity varieties at vape shops reserved for those 18 and over, as well as at convenience stores.

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If flavours are banned, people would only be allowed to buy tobacco-flavoured vapes.

Dr. Nicholas Chadi, a pediatrician specializing in adolescent and addiction medicine at St. Justine Children’s Hospital, says vaping has gained popularity among young people in recent years.

“We’re seeing more and more teens using nicotine vapes, but also cannabis-containing vapes. So that’s definitely a recent trend,” he told Global News.

Chadi thinks banning flavours is a good idea that could help protect young people by making vaping less desirable.

“What I mostly see would be young people telling me that since they’ve started vaping, they have shorter breath, they cough more, they don’t feel as fit as they used to,” he said.

Though vaping is addictive and can have negative health effects, it is less harmful than cigarettes. The vaping industry says banning flavours could be devastating to adults using them as a tool to quit smoking

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“There needs to be a wholesome review of the scientific evidence of how this impacts adults because no one has talked about adults,” said Tempest.

“In parts of the world where flavours have been banned, we haven’t really seen negative repercussions on smokers. We’ve mostly seen that the appeal is a little bit lesser in young people,” said Chadi.

“Usually young people don’t use vaping products as something to substitute cigarettes or replace it. It’s usually a new risk or a new behaviour.”

Bensemana agreed that a flavour ban could make vaping less attractive to young people.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone rip a tobacco-flavoured vape, so that would definitely be a deterrent,” he said.

Tempest said the many vape shops would also be hit hard, creating potentially thousands of job losses.

He said if the government does go ahead with such a rule, the industry will challenge it in court.

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