Ontario vapers fight back against “cigarette lobbyists”

Convenience stores in Canada may have bitten off more than they can chew


It didn’t take Ontario vapers long to hit back after last week’s weird sneak attack by a convenience store association.

Vapor Advocates on Ontario (VAO) — an organization of vape shop owners and vaping advocates — has reactivated its VapingIsntSmoking.com website, and is asking vapers and anyone interested to visit the site and use its automated email system to send a pro-vaping message to Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and Minister of Health Eric Hoskins.

The Ontario Convenience Store Association (OSCA) launched its campaign last week, asking “stakeholders” to send messages to the premier and health minister to complain that vape shops are allowed to offer samples to adult customers. Because the c-stores allow underage customers inside, they can’t allow sampling, and, in fact, have to keep tobacco products out of sight.

It all looked like a transparent attempt to protect cigarette sales. And VAO is calling them out on it. “Anyone lobbying for protection of the lethal cigarette trade should instead be looking at their responsibility for the horrendous death and disease those products have caused and seeking ways to help their customers quit rather than trying to put obstacles in their way,” said VAO spokesperson Maria Duic in a press release.

“VAO encourages all Canadians who support vaping, or simply support the fundamental right to life and to free speech of all Canadians as laid out in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms to go to www.vapingisntsmoking.com and follow our prompts on how to voice your concerns”, she added

VAO has a secret weapon that the c-stores can’t match: David Sweanor. The law professor from the University of Ottawa, an internationally known tobacco control expert and harm reduction advocate, is squarely on the side of vapers and the vape industry in this battle.

It all looked like a transparent attempt to protect cigarette sales.

“Any effort to treat cigarettes no differently from massively less hazardous alternatives like vaping protects the cigarette business rather than public health,” says Prof. Sweanor. “It is akin to whiskey distillers wanting orange juice to be subjected to identical regulations.”

Sweanor has helped the group before. He spoke at a rally in Toronto’s Queens Park last year –part of VAO’s campaign against restrictive Ontario vaping regulations. That effort came too late. But VAO reacted quickly to this threat.

The convenience store group is struggling with its campaign already. The group has blocked many vapers from its Twitter feed, and at the time of this writing, its anti-vape shop website is out of commission. It’s unknown if that is temporary or permanent. It may be that they underestimated how hard the vapers would hit back.

Jim McDonald
I spend most of my time studying the regulatory, legislative and scientific challenges to vaping, advocating for our right to exist, and talking with others who do the same. Consider me a source for information, and feel free to agree or disagree with anything I say. I love good coffee and sweet Michigan cherries. My childhood hero was Gordie Howe.
  • Asylumsix

    As a part of VAO this is a huge win whether people accept it or not, OSCA was misinformed on the subject and that played against them as laws already state 19+ years of age to use vapor products in Ontario, VAO is a large group of vapers, not just retailers or manufacturers but the vapers themselves and they are a key factor of VAO and VAOC.

    We are not just manufacturers, we are not just retailers we are the people and we are powerful.

    Ultimately like in so many other countries, areas/regions many are extremely misinformed on the subject of vapor products and look at us like we’re big tobacco when that couldn’t be further from the truth. Who am I? I am an ex-smoker who smoked 22 years, I tried everything that was recommended to me by doctors and failed, if it wasn’t for vapor products I’d still be smoking 60+ cigarettes a day…

    I fight for vaping because everything else has failed me, I fight for vaping so that others can have the second chance at having a higher quality of life, we are the people and we are strong!