(Quebec) Punch, bubblegum, peach-mango-guava, Classic Ice: these exotic vape flavors will soon be a thing of the past in Quebec as the Legault government prepares to ban them. The industry responds and says it fears “an unprecedented public health crisis”, the closure of 480 specialized shops and the loss of 2,000 jobs, but experts welcome the measure.

“I started buying myself pot, then I started smoking that so I didn’t want to smoke something all the time. […] If there was no flavor, maybe I wouldn’t smoke, ”wonders, thoughtfully, Juliette.

Like several young people met in front of the Cégep du Vieux Montréal on Wednesday, the latter vapes, but does not smoke cigarettes, at least on a daily basis. All say they want to quit when their vape flavors are no longer offered over the counter.

“A lot of people I know are going to do the same thing,” said another, calling the only tobacco flavor “not so good” that will remain allowed.

Sales of the latter represent only 8% of vaping products in the province, according to a study published by the National Institute of Public Health of Quebec (INSPQ) last month. Half of the products sold between January and May 2022 were more fruit flavored and 40% were mint flavored.

The Minister of Health and Social Services, Christian Dubé, made public on Wednesday, in the Gazette officielle du Québec, this draft regulation, which La Presse reported on March 2. It will come into force in 90 days.

Quebec also points out that “this draft regulation should have a financial impact on companies that derive revenue from the sale of these products, particularly with regard to the reduction in their turnover and the loss of jobs, particularly for stores specializing in vaping products. However, a lower impact is expected for businesses that offer a variety of other products, such as convenience stores and gas stations. »

“It’s excessively profitable for the cigarette lobbies to join in with vaping, because it’s a way of encouraging new smokers, so it’s normal that there is lobbying. But we are very firm on that, ”said Christian Dubé nevertheless.

The announcement was quickly welcomed by stakeholders in favor of greater restriction of vaping products.

According to a study funded by Cœur AVC and conducted among Quebecers aged 16 to 24, they start vaping before their 15th birthday, do so six days a week and 31 times a day, on average. “More than a quarter of young people started smoking cigarettes after they started vaping because they are addicted to nicotine,” said the organization’s director of government relations in Quebec, Kevin Bilodeau.

As for the presence of flavors in vaping products, he adds that “nine out of ten young people mention that it is an important reason why they started vaping and the same number say that it is an important factor for continue “.

While Wednesday’s announcement is “a step in the right direction” and “long overdue news”, pediatrician and adolescent medicine researcher Dr. Nicholas Chadi believes more needs to be done to fight against the scourge of vaping among young Quebecers.

The industry, however, sees things differently and says it fears an “unprecedented public health crisis” and the creation of a “new vaping black market” as “hundreds of thousands of adult ex-smokers will be deprived of an effective [alternative] to cigarettes and will be tempted to start smoking again”.

“François Legault’s government is showing unacceptable dogmatism and willful blindness! Prohibition, as we have seen with alcohol and cannabis, has never worked,” said the founding director of the Association of Representatives of the Vaping Industry, Daniel Marien.

The banning of flavors in vaping would lead to the closure of the majority of the 480 specialized shops and the loss of the majority of the 2200 jobs in Quebec.