Edmonton - A coalition of prominent health organizations is urging health minister Sarah Hoffman to bring forward regulations to curtail the explosive rise in vaping among Alberta youth.  The call comes upon the launch of the highly controversial Juul vaping devices in Canada.  In the U.S., high-nicotine Juul vaping devices are blamed for a huge surge in vaping rates among American teenagers.  The Trump administration is cracking down on Juul and other vaping companies for allegedly targeting teens.  Alberta and Saskatchewan are the only remaining provinces without laws to regulate vaping devices.

The rate of vaping among Alberta high school students in the past 30 days almost tripled between 2015 and 2017 according to the Canadian Student Tobacco and Drugs Survey.  The survey of 9,400 Alberta youth revealed that the 30-day vaping rate among high school students increased from 8% in 2015 to 22% in 2017 which translates into 27,000 high school students that are now vaping in Alberta.  The 2017 high school vaping rate was almost double the rate of smoking cigarettes which was 12% in the past 30 days.  Health groups are worried that the sale and promotion of new alluring, high-nicotine “stealth” vaping devices could make matters worse based upon the recent U.S. experience. 

“The Health Minister promised to bring forward complementary provincial vaping regulations following the passage of federal legislation to regulate e-cigarettes” said Angeline Webb of the Canadian Cancer Society.  “Bill S-5 was passed by Parliament last May and will come into force on November 19.  The federal bill contains a number of loopholes that the provincial government needs to close to better protect Alberta teens from vaping and nicotine addiction.  We urge the Minister to bring forward regulations that will close the loopholes in the federal vaping legislation. Alberta youth deserve first-class protection from nicotine addiction in all of its forms.”

Federal Bill S-5 contains numerous omissions and loopholes including:

  • No restrictions on the public use of vaping devices by minors or adults
  • Limited restrictions on the retail promotion of vaping devices
  • No carding for purchases of vaping devises for those between the ages of 18 and 25 (versus tobacco, liquor and cannabis)
  • No mandatory training for vaping or tobacco retailers (cannabis and liquor retailers require mandatory provincial training and certification)

“The Alberta government could take quick action on youth vaping simply by proclaiming a section of the Tobacco and Smoking Reduction Act regarding “tobacco-like” substances” said Les Hagen of Action on Smoking & Health.  “This section can be easily approved in one Cabinet meeting.  There is no good reason for delaying action any longer given the explosive rise in teen vaping in Alberta.  Protection delayed is protection denied.”

Tobacco companies continue to aggressively lobby the Alberta government to fend off tobacco and vaping regulations despite the government’s pledge to refuse meetings with tobacco lobbyists.  Tobacco companies now control a large portion of the vaping market and have launched their own vaping products which are now promoted and sold in retail stores across Canada.

“We urge the Alberta government to take immediate action to protect teens from vaping and nicotine addiction” said Nina Snyder of The Lung Association.  “Once addicted to nicotine, research shows that it is a very small step to become a cigarette smoker with all of the associated health risks.  Tobacco dependence is the most widespread and deadly form of drug abuse in Canada—resulting in 48,000 deaths annually.  Alberta youth deserve every chance to remain tobacco-free for life”.

Last week, the health coalition issued a news release regarding the imminent repeal of several sections of the Tobacco and Smoking Reduction Act—including potential restrictions on vaping.

The Campaign for a Smoke-Free Alberta is a coalition of prominent health organizations working to reduce tobacco use.

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Les Hagen at 780-919-5546

Angeline Webb at 780-239-5295

Nina Snyder at 780-224-0005

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