New survey reveals that 50,000 Alberta adolescents are now vaping and risking nicotine addiction

Edmonton - The Campaign for a Smoke-Free Alberta is launching a provincial mobilization effort to urge Albertans to contact their MLA in support of strong legislation to curb the explosive rise in youth vaping. The call comes on the heels of a new national drug survey revealing that 50,000 school-aged youth in Alberta have tried vaping in the past 30 days—a six-fold increase in just four years.

“We urge all Albertans to visit and urge their MLA to support strong and effective legislation to help stem the rising tide in youth vaping” said Angeline Webb of the Canadian Cancer Society. “The explosive rise in teen vaping has been fueled by slick and sophisticated marketing campaigns and the promotion of flavoured, high-nicotine stealth vaping products. Alberta is the only remaining province that has not passed vaping legislation and we urge the provincial government to make up for lost time by approving strong measures to protect Alberta kids. The provincial government needs to move swiftly and assertively.”

A mandatory five-year review of the Tobacco and Smoking Reduction Act was commissioned by Health Minister Tyler Shandro last fall. A report is expected shortly from Calgary MLA Jeremy Nixon who led the review. Resulting amendments to the tobacco legislation are anticipated this spring.

A growing number of states and provinces have banned flavoured vaping products in an effort to curb teen vaping including Nova Scotia, PEI, Montana, Washington and Oregon. The coalition is urging the Alberta government to follow suit and to fully align existing provincial restrictions on tobacco products with those on vaping products—including a comprehensive ban on flavoured products.

“Four out of five Albertans want the Alberta government to align its current restrictions on tobacco products with those on vaping products including a ban on flavoured products” said Kristyn Berry of the Heart & Stroke Foundation. “Alberta was one of the first jurisdictions in the world to ban flavoured tobacco products including menthol cigarettes. We urge the government to provide Alberta kids with similar protection from vaping products. Flavoured vaping products have played a significant role in creating the youth vaping epidemic. The Alberta government can solve this problem simply by aligning its restrictions on tobacco with those on vaping including a comprehensive flavour ban.”

An online survey of 1,002 Alberta adults conducted by Leger Research in November 2019 found that over 80% of Albertans support the alignment of provincial vaping restrictions with those on tobacco.

The coalition is very concerned about the potential for the explosion in youth vaping to affect youth smoking rates. Youth who vape are four times as likely to start smoking according to a study published in the medical journal Pediatrics in 2018.

“It’s time for the provincial government to take strong action to protect Alberta kids from tobacco and vaping products and predatory marketing campaigns. Alberta youth deserve first-class protection from tobacco and vaping products. Protection delayed is protection denied” said Les Hagen of Action on Smoking & Health.

The Campaign for a Smoke-Free Alberta is a coalition of health organizations working together to reduce tobacco use and nicotine addiction.

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Angeline Webb @ 780-239-5295
Les Hagen @ 780-919-5546
Kristyn Berry @ 780-229-7017