Student Life

No, you can’t hit my vape

As of Oct. 31, Quebec will ban non-tobacco-flavoured vapes and set a new maximum nicotine concentration of 20 milligrams per millilitre for those that remain. Health Minister Christian Dubé, who first set out to amend vaping regulations in April, says this is meant to prevent the negative effects of vaping on minors, given that the number of high school students who vape has quintupled between 2013 and 2019. The amendment to the Tobacco Control Act brings with it many questions: Will our Halloween parties be ruined by nicotine addicts suffering from withdrawal? And what does this mean for the well-being and social life of McGill students? 

It seems that most, whether they vape or not, do not know about the ban. Lashyn Ahmad, U1 Management, does not vape but was unaware of the new regulations until she was interviewed about it. 

“I didn’t know about the bill, but I am in favour of it,” Ahmad said. “The flavours are something that made [vapes] much too marketable to adolescents.”

Oscar Johnson, U2 Arts, pointed out that the reason why so many minors vape as their introduction to nicotine is due to the appealing flavours, which can entice teens to think of vapes as a treat and mask how unhealthy it truly is. 

“Flavoured vapes pander to minors with most flavours being really sweet and fruity,” Johnson said. “There’s bubblegum, mango—they all sound like candy flavours.”

Ava McKenzie, U1 Arts, also hadn’t heard of the bill but is similarly in favour.

“Vapes only really exist to get a new generation hooked on nicotine, and it’s worked spectacularly,” McKenzie said. “I think it’s a good thing to decrease their availability because being addicted to something full of chemicals doesn’t positively affect anyone.” 

Ahmad believes that the ban will impact student life at McGill because, in her words, “people are very deeply addicted to vaping.”

Johnson, on the other hand, feels that this will not affect McGill students because those who really want to continue vaping will find a way. 

“Even if they are banned in Quebec, Ontario is only a two-hour drive away,” Johnson said. “People can just buy vapes there or order them online if they want them badly enough.” 

The ban raises the question: If people are so addicted now, will there be pushback or protest? Ahmad doesn’t think so, arguing that those affected are mostly under the voting age. Johnson thinks that pushback would prove the government’s point—that vaping has become too much of a crutch for teens. However, Johnson predicts vape-selling business owners may react differently.

“[People will] either push back or find a loophole of some sort to stay in business,” Johnson said.

Another question to consider is if vapers will turn into cigarette smokers in order to satisfy their nicotine addiction.

“Going cold turkey is possible but nicotine is so hard to quit,” McKenzie said. “Cigarettes are also already prevalent in Quebec so it would be an easy transition.” 

Ahmad, however, does not think so because of how the public views cigarettes after decades of anti-smoking campaigns. 

“Cigarettes are still unappealing to the general population,” Ahmad told The Tribune. 

Despite the years of anti-cigarette campaigns, however, smoking is back in fashion amongst youth due to the increasing amount of cigarette use in the media, particularly by “it girls” such as Lily-Rose Depp. Depp exemplifies the aesthetic that so many young girls want to emulate—cool, European, and nonchalantly beautiful. Studies have concluded that young people exposed to smoking cigarettes via entertainment, such as Depp’s performance as Jocelyn in HBO’s The Idol, are three times more likely to take it up. So will teens give up nicotine altogether after the new regulations come into effect? Or will cigarettes become the new, cooler vape? Only time will tell.

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