Health officials are concerned the future health of young Canadians could vanish in a puff of smoke.
Eight leading national health organizations have called on federal officials to take urgent action to avoid further risks of serious illness from vaping. The groups are asking for an interim order to curb the marketing of vaping products, restrict the flavours available and regulate nicotine levels.
Vaping products, the organizations say, should be treated the same way as tobacco products.
“Youth vaping has become a public health crisis,” said Dr. Sandy Buchman, president of the Canadian Medical Association. “Wasting time on this can only increase the risks to Canadians.”
An interim order would allow the government to put in place regulations for up to 12 months while permanent regulations are drafted.
Canada’s chief public health officer says at least three reports of potential vaping-related illnesses are being investigated, but she doesn’t consider any to be confirmed.
The organizations – which include the Canadian Medical Association, the Canadian Cancer Society, Canadian Lung Association, Coalition quebecoise pour le controle du tabac, Heart & Stroke, Ontario Campaign for Action on Tobacco and Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada – recommended restrictions on advertising similar to those on tobacco products, the end of most — if not all — flavoured products, and a nicotine level restriction of 20 mg/ml in line with European Union standards.
Representatives shied away from endorsing a full ban on vaping products, acknowledging that some may help people quit smoking or reduce the harmful effects of cigarette use.
Instead, the organizations focused on the negative health risks associated with surging vaping rates among youth and the steps required to halt that trend. A survey done for Health Canada and published this year found that one-fifth of high school students report using vaping products, as are one-seventh of children aged 13 and 14.
Cynthia Callard, the executive director of Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada, said vaping products have changed in recent years to become more addictive, attractive and accessible to youth.
“In short, tobacco companies are hooking kids on vape products in the same ways they used to hooked their parents and grandparents on cigarettes,” Callard said.
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