It seems an overnight phenomenon — the number of vape shops now open in Edmonton.
With the growth of the industry, Canada’s Vape Expo has descended on the city, the first time the convention has come to Alberta.
“We want to keep them out of the hands of children; we want to keep them safe,” explained Charles Pisano, an event organizer.
One of the big topics among vendors and attendees is Ottawa’s recently introduced Vaping and Tobacco Products legislation. It seeks to regulate the fast-growing industry, to stop youth from taking up vaping, through means such as flavour restrictions and labelling.
“We want regulation, absolutely,” Pisano said.
But those in the industry are worried.
“Problem with that is a lot of folks, they don’t want to vape something that tastes like a cigarette,” Pisaono said. “So, they might want to vape cherry or watermelon. That’s not targeting children.”
According to recent Health Canada statistics, in 2015, 26 per cent of Canadian youth aged 15 to 19 tried an e-cigarette. That’s an increase from 20 per cent in 2013.
“There’s not so much smoking now, it’s more vaping than anything,” Grade 10 student Justin James said.
At high schools across Edmonton, the stats play out.
“They probably just think the smoke is cool and it tastes like candy and stuff,” James said.
Friend Zack Day added this: “My buddy had one. Then I tried it out and yeah, it’s pretty lame.”
At Canada’s Vape Expo, organizers stress anyone under 18 is not welcome. Identifications will be checked and security will be present.
Pisano is eager to talk about vaping, promoting it as a much safer alternative to regular cigarette smoking.
Industry insiders hope to find common ground with Ottawa as the new rules take shape.
“We’re working with the government, we’re not fighting them on this,” Pisano said.
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