Surrey Doesn’t Need to Ban Vape Shops

Banning substances creates black markets, so just let the kids hit that Juul

Ainslie Glass blows a thick cloud from her Vaporesso Luxe. (Cristian Hobson-Dimas)

Remember when it seemed like everyone and their mom had a fidget spinner? You could find those puppies everywhere from convenience stores and gas stations to mall kiosks.

This sensational trend eventually died out, as even the most trendy trends tend to do. But vaping, on the other hand, has all the fashionable qualities of a fidget spinner with the added addictiveness of nicotine. Vaping is a fad that likely isn’t going anywhere, though there are people like Surrey city councillor Steven Pettigrew who wish it would go up in smoke.

According to the Surrey News, Pettigrew is calling for stronger regulations on vaping in Surrey, and is even exploring the possibility of banning vape shops entirely.

“Part of our job as government is to look after our children,” Pettigrew said, maintaining that his platform is wholly based on youth safety.

In a 2018 Washington Post article, the head of the Food and Drug Administration said that American youth are experiencing an e-cigarette epidemic, while publications such as VOX have discussed his stance that Juul has driven a youth addiction crisis.

Regulating harmful substances is a necessity, especially when young people are at risk. But it seems as though e-cigarettes are more popular for social reasons than physiological ones.

“Everyone’s just following a trend,” says Ainslie Glass, an eleventh-grade student attending high school in Delta, B.C. She believes that vaping is likely creating more addictions for teens than it is alleviating, although she adds that e-cigarettes have helped her “cut down on smoking a lot.”

Still, she finds the notion that they are only used by smokers trying to kick their habit laughable.

That’s why, according to Rolling Stone, companies like Juul have been getting hit with class-action lawsuits for allegedly marketing vaping to teenagers.

“I know for a fact a lot of kids at my school are addicted,” Ainslie says, explaining that vaping addiction is so rampant that she “can’t go one class without hearing somebody hit one and blow it down their shirt.”

Banning vape shops in Surrey still seems needless. Substances like alcohol remain legal, even though there are proven and widely known health concerns associated with them. Global News states that the economic cost of alcohol-related harm across Canada is $14.6 billion per year. ​

Glass has her own doubts about whether banning vape shops would even reduce the amount of people that vape in Surrey.

“When weed was illegal, people still found a way to get a hold of it. Banning [vape shops] would just open up an illegal market, and there would be no age regulation,” she says.

“At least with vape shops,  no underage kids can walk in and buy anything. They’re very strict about having valid ID, even if you don’t plan on buying anything.”

As someone who can still count the number of times I’ve hit a Juul on both hands, I don’t really see why we’re drawing a line in the sand when it comes to vaping. Sure, it’s addictive. So is coffee. Sure, it’s super unhealthy. So are booze and cigarettes.

Yes, our government should be doing what it can to make vaping inaccessible to kids, just like they do with alcohol, cigarettes, and marijuana—but beyond that, the prospect of banning vape shops seems like the political equivalent of Helen Lovejoy from The Simpsons yelling, “Won’t somebody please think of the children?!”

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