Retail availability and marketing of electronic cigarettes in Canada

David Hammond, Christine M. White, Christine D. Czoli, Christina L. Martin, Paul Magennis, Samantha Shiplo

Abstract


OBJECTIVES: Canada is among an increasing number of countries with restrictions on the sale of electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes). In Canada, e-cigarettes containing nicotine have not been approved for sale; however, e-cigarettes that do not contain nicotine and do not make health claims can be sold. To date, there is little empirical evidence assessing the retail availability and marketing of e-cigarettes in countries such as Canada.

METHODS: Audits were conducted at 59 brick-and-mortar retail outlets (grocery stores, convenience stores, tobacconist shops and vape shops) in four cities (Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal and Halifax) in August–October 2014. In addition, a total of 21 e-cigarette manufacturer/retailer websites were audited, and inquiries were made as to whether the companies sold nicotine-containing products.

RESULTS: Overall, 76% of the retail outlets sold e-cigarette products. Of convenience stores, grocery stores and tobacconist shops with e-cigarettes for sale, the vast majority (94%) sold nicotine-free products only; in contrast, all the vape shops sold at least one nicotine-containing e-cigarette product. Front counter displays were the most common form of in-store promotions and were present in virtually all convenience stores, tobacconist shops and vape shops. Nicotine-containing e-cigarettes were available for purchase at approximately half (52%) of the online e-cigarette retailers surveyed.

CONCLUSION: E-cigarettes with and without nicotine are widely available and marketed at a variety of retail outlets in Canada. “Illegal” sales of nicotinecontaining e-cigarettes were predominantly found at vape shops and online outlets, suggesting limited compliance with existing regulations.


Keywords


E-cigarettes; marketing; tobacco control; policy

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.17269/cjph.106.5105