BC should note weak action of Ontario on vaping

On October 24 2019 Quebec confirmed the second case of severe lung illness as a direct result of vaping. This brings the current total illnesses in Canada linked, or potentially linked to vaping, to five. While the BC government has said they are reviewing next steps, the Ontario government has shown that weak action isn't any better than inaction on this issue.

In the wake of vaping related illnesses, there are various calls for action. They range from having hospitals track and report vaping related illnesses (announced by Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott) to calls to completely ban the sale of vaping related products. I find myself agreeing with the initial response from BC Health Minister Adrian Dix on whether or not vaping products should be banned:

...we don’t want to create a situation that’s conceivably worse where you're creating a large black market.

What is truly scary is that a recent study done by Professor David Hammond of the University of Waterloo found that for teenagers between 16-19, incidences of vaping used increased 74% over one year. This is largely due to a very unregulated market and to the targeting of kids, the same way the tobacco industry targeted children.

Instead of an outright ban, we should be limiting the sale of vaping products to vaping stores, banning advertising that is geared towards targeting children, measures for flavours and nicotine concentration, and design of vaping products. We also need increased enforcement and compliance mechanisms to ensure these product stop making it into the hands of children.

BC is currently working on a plan to get tough on vaping and these comments from Dix were encouraging:

We in British Columbia are going to lead the country. No one else is considering or contemplating or moving forward with what we're going to come forward with within weeks here in British Columbia.

At present, the Greater Victoria School District is engaged on this issue and focused on educating our students on the effects of vaping. Our District Learning Support Team has produced several important Substance Use Snapshots focused on vaping. Those can be found here and here.

I look forward to seeing what the Province of BC does on this issue, and encourage you to write to the Minister with your thoughts and concerns. He can be reached here.

This issue will continue to be one I monitor closely.

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