Vaping and Vape Awareness
School District #53 this week discussed recent correspondence received from the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia outlining an increase in youth vaping rates and requesting support for vape awareness and resources for youth.
The Board Chair, Rob Zandee, was asked by his board to author a letter to the Minister of Health urging action to be taken on this issue.
What is behind all of this:
Letter to SD 53 from former cabinet minister Todd Stone of Kamloops
ATTN: Chairperson Zandee and the Board of Education School District 53
I am writing to you today to ask for your support in demanding action from the B.C. Government to address surging youth vaping rates. A new school year has begun and teen vaping is on the rise at an alarming rate. Earlier this summer, an article published by the British Medical Journal indicated that vaping among youth in Canada aged 16 to 19 is up 74 per cent since last year, and it’s estimated that 30 per cent of B.C. teens in grades 10 to 12 are vaping on a regular basis. Almost daily, we’re hearing stories about people getting sick, and in some cases, even dying, as a result of vaping. There now appears to be an indisputable link between this practice and several dangerous and harmful acute health impacts, not to mention the potential long-term health implications that are not yet known.
Our kids are being drawn in and hooked to this unhealthy practice in increasing numbers as a direct result of the efforts vape companies have made to deliberately target youth with kid-friendly e-cigarette flavours like fruit medley, gummy bear, and mango. These companies – and the tobacco companies which own substantial interests in most of them – have also targeted our kids with savvy marketing and advertising. This is especially prevalent on social media, where sleek, modern, compact drug delivery devices are promoted in alluring packaging.
On April 11, 2019, I introduced a Private Member’s Bill in the B.C. Legislature focused on taking action to combat rising levels of youth vaping here in our province. At the time, B.C.’s Minister of Health, Adrian Dix, and many other members of the government indicated that they shared my concerns about this public health issue and that they were committed to working with me to implement tough action to protect our kids from the harmful effects of vaping. Unfortunately, nearly six months later, no action has yet been taken by the B.C. government, though Mr.
Dix has suggested in recent media reports that government does intend to announce their intentions soon.
Numerous jurisdictions across North America have already said enough is enough and have taken action to curb youth vaping. Just last week, Washington State became the latest U.S. state to ban flavoured e-cigarettes via an emergency order of the governor, joining Michigan, New York, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island, which have also taken this step. Numerous other U.S. states and jurisdictions – not to mention the U.S. federal government – are moving in the same direction. I believe that the B.C. government should do the same. While I understand the B.C. government has recently indicated its desire to await further action from Health Canada, it is impractical to assume any immediate follow-up from Ottawa until the current federal election is over, a federal government has been sworn in, and federal cabinet priorities have been established. All of the above will take many months, which would mean losing almost the entire school year. We simply cannot allow that to happen.
My Private Member’s Bill would legislate the banning of flavoured vapour products, the implementation of tighter retail controls (restricting sales to vape shops, tobacco shops and pharmacies), and would ensure tougher penalties for non-compliance. I’ve also called for the B.C. government to provide the resources necessary to fund evidence-based awareness, prevention and support programs – delivered by youth for youth – in every middle and high school across B.C. There are existing programs – such as Preventure – which have been piloted in various schools to date and have demonstrated promising results as students in schools with this program were less likely to use illicit drugs, cannabis and tobacco. And finally, there needs to be tougher online retail controls implemented for the sale of vape products (including ageverification), a complete ban on all marketing and advertising of vape products (exactly as is the case today for all tobacco products), reduced nicotine concentrations and enhanced enforcement.