“Youth are vaping at an alarming rate and it’s clear we need to take action.”
A University of Waterloo study shows a 74 per cent jump in vaping among 16 to 19-year-olds in Canada between 2017 and 2018. According to recent Health Canada surveys, nearly one in four students in grades 7 to 12 have tried vaping.
Of 75,000 Canadian students in grades 9 to 12, 73 per cent said they vaped out of “curiosity” or “to try something new.”
Only four per cent of e-cigarette users said they used them to quit smoking, with another four per cent were using vaping to reduce cigarette consumption.
“People who vape today are the test subjects of tomorrow because the long-term effects remain largely unknown,” Baker-Barill told students.
“We want you to escape the vape and make sure that the industry doesn’t suck you in. We want you to know, and not fall for, the tactics of an industry that’s basically been bought by the tobacco companies.”
For example, Altria Group — which owns several of the largest cigarette companies in the U.S. — acquired a 35 per cent stake in Juul Labs, which sold the most popular e-cigarette in the U.S. at the end of 2017 and had a market share of 72 per cent as of September 2018.
“The tobacco industry has a really long history of telling us their product is healthy and we now have the same industry trying to tell us that vaping is not harmful and will help you quit smoking,” Baker-Barill said, adding evidence to date doesn’t support that claim.
The vaping industry’s relatively unrestricted marketing is another problem, she added.
Cotton candy, funky monkey and the more than 7,000 other e-cigarette “flavours” aren’t the kind that would typically appeal to an adult trying to quit smoking, she said.
In Ontario, you have to be 19 to purchase any vape product, but it’s not illegal for a minor to possess an e-cigarette.
Christine Elliott, Ontario’s health minister and MPP for Newmarket-Aurora, said the province is taking a practical approach aimed at better protecting children from vaping, while ensuring the continued success of entrepreneurs and small business owners.
One of its “first steps” toward tackling the emerging health crisis is banning the promotion of vape products in convenience stores and gas stations as of Jan. 1.
Elliott also issued a minister’s order, requiring hospitals to provide data on vaping-related pulmonary disease to get a better handle on the scope of the issue.
Earlier this year, however, tobacco control organizations called for higher levels of government to stop dragging their feet on the issue.
They called for a bill that can be passed in relatively short order — rather than new regulations that can take two years or more to implement — as a remedy to stem the tide in youth vaping.
“By being too late, it will be too little,” Neil Collishaw, research director for Physicians for a Smoke-free Canada, said in a release.
“Tens of thousands of more kids will become addicted to nicotine by the time new regulations will come into effect.”
Conservative MP Marilyn Gladu recently urged the federal Liberals to follow Nova Scotia’s lead in terms of swift action.
Nova Scotia was the first province to ban flavoured varieties of e-cigarettes and associated liquids.