Quebec Court Conclusion

Posted 8th May 2019 by Dave Cross
The Canadian Vaping Association and the Quebecan Vaping Association have struck a blow for vaping in the Canadian courts. The Associations took issue with the manner Quebec has implemented the Tobacco Control Act in 2015 and instigated legal action to correct the matter.

Quebec had prohibited the demonstration of vape products within vape stores (and quit smoking venues) and barred the dissemination of harm reduction information. Lawyers for the Associations argued that these prohibitions contravened “the right to integrity and personal security as well as freedom of expression”.

The full restrictions placed on vaping:

  • Everyone buying vaping devices must produce proof of age
  • Vaping devices not to be sold where tobacco products are sold
  • Vaping banned everywhere smoking isn’t allowed
  • Vaping devices banned from display, except in vape stores as long as they aren’t visible from outside
  • Vape shops only allowed to show availability and prices
  • Vape shops and manufacturers subject to the same restrictions on advertising as tobacco companies
  • Free samples and liquid testing banned
  • Vape shops must register with the government

Government lawyers relied on tired arguments; referring to the supposed gateway effect and a bastardisation of the precautionary principal to justify policies that fly in the face of Health Canada’s position that vaping offers “a viable means for smokers to reduce their exposure to toxic products”.

Justice Daniel Dumais ruled that this exceeded the province’s powers. He announced that he was suspending ruling for six months but instructed legislators to use the time to redraft Quebec’s tobacco law and remove the sections causing a problem.

Dumais also that banning advertising information about using vaping to quit smoking, aimed at smokers, was also illegal. He wrote: “Overall, the law is constitutional. Quebec has jurisdiction to legislate as it has done. The Quebec legislature has jurisdiction and could validly pass the contested laws.”

“The problem with the current restrictions is that the public - particularly smokers - do not distinguish between smoking and vaping. They must be permitted to know the difference. Rather than silence, it is sometimes necessary to educate and let people know that vaping exists first and foremost for smokers.”

Vape storeowner Linda Boyer-Fawcett spoke about her happiness at the decision to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation: “Our windows will not have to be frosted anymore. From the outside, if you don't what I'm doing inside, it looks like a trap house. It looks like a place you wouldn't let your husband go.”

“I was a smoker from the age of 13 to 33. The vaping, as soon as I tried it, I haven't smoked after that. My first job is definitely to discourage non-smokers to use it.”

Not everyone is happy at Justice Dumais’ decision. Flory Doucas of the Quebec Coalition for Tobacco Control, mistakenly believes it is a setback in the fight against tobacco-related harm.

Repeating some of the myths about flavours and packaging, she said: “For this ruling to come and invalidate some of these measures, specifically the ones that speak to advertising, I think it's really upsetting. I think that the most worrisome thing is that kids who use these products are two to four times more likely to become smokers of conventional cigarettes.”

The government has thirty days to appeal the verdict.

 

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 Dave Cross
Article by Dave Cross
Freelance writer, physicist, karateka, dog walker