Canada’s busy week
Late November is typically pretty quiet in the Great White North. We celebrate Thanksgiving in October, so November tends to be known largely as the month that lies between Thanksgiving and Christmas. However, if you’re a vaper in Canada, this November couldn’t have been much bigger. Over the course of seven days, we had Canada’s largest vape expo take place in the nation’s capital and then the release of the federal government’s long awaiting regulatory framework for vaping. Suffice it to say, November was a busy month with lots to digest.
Canada Vape Expo – Ottawa
This was the fourth edition of Canada’s Vape Expo, with the last edition having taken place in May in Toronto. It was the first time that CVE had ventured to Ottawa and it was also the largest CVE to date in terms of vendors. Also, the number of international vendors was at its highest and this trend is a good sign for the industry as it continues to grow in Canada. Canada’s advocacy organizations were well represented at the show with the Canadian Vaping Association (CVA), Tobacco Harm Reduction Association (THRA), Association Québecoise des Vapoteries (AQV), and Electronic Cigarette Trade Association (ECTA) all having a presence at the show. One of the many highlights of the show was having representatives from the CVA and AQV take the stage accompanied by Phil Busardo & Dimitri Agrafiotis. Both associations had launched suits against the government of Quebec to challenge Bill 44 and this had led to quite a bit of tension over the last few months. In an effort to show that the greater good was more important than individual egos or bragging rights, the groups exchanged shirts and addressed the audience.
Friday, B2B day, was excellent, with several hundred buyers in attendance meeting with vendors and manufacturers. On a personal note, its pretty amazing to see how far this industry has come. When I launched my company in 2014, I did so at the show that preceded the first CVE. For that show, we had a tablecloth set up in the ballroom at the Holiday Inn by the Toronto Airport. Within 2 years, we were now set up with 1500 square feet of space within the almost 50,000 square feet at the EY Centre. When I look around the shows now I see a lot of familiar faces and its incredible to see how far many of the businesses have come. Canadian brands have used these shows to springboard onto international success and its great to be able to walk the floor at shows around the world and see the proliferation of great Canadian products on the world stage. Saturday and Sunday were consumer days, and drew a sizeable crowd, with over close to 6000 tickets having been sold in advance. The crowd was energized and vendors were game, offering some great show deals and a ton of new product launches. Overall, CVE Ottawa was a great success and we can’t wait for the next one.
And then came the government…
Just after getting back from CVE we received word that the federal Liberal government would be announcing regulations for vaping in the form of Bill S-5. The CVA had been working with Health Canada and the Minister’s office for most of the last two years and the effort has paid dividends. Bill S-5, as proposed, draws a clear distinction between Tobacco and Vapour products. It removes Vaping products from the Food and Drug Act and moves them into a newly revised Tobacco and Vaping Products Act. It also provides a pathway for companies who wish to make therapeutic claims (quitting versus harm reduction) and treats the use cases differently. Also included are expected prohibitions on minors being able to buy or use vapour products and limitations on where vapour products can be used. The government also intends to implement restrictions on marketing, including specific restrictions on the marketing of certain flavours but with no prohibition on flavours outright. Manufacturing standards and submission of products are part of the package of regulations too, but there isn’t too much in the way of specific details at this point. One thing is clear, however. The Canadian government, by working with the CVA, has recognized the value of vapour products as a tool to lower smoking rates. That’s big news, as it means the laws are being designed for safety reasons, not to prevent access. There’s still a long way to go before this becomes law, as the Bill needs to pass through three readings in the Senate and the House of Commons but it’s a good start and bodes well for the future of vaping in Canada.
- Beju Lakhani