Government action needed to address youth vaping

A new national Leger poll reveals that large majorities of Canadians support urgent action by the federal government to significantly restrict vaping product advertising to help curb increasing youth consumption of nicotine vaping products.

Recent revelations have confirmed that Canada’s youth are following the same trends seen south of the border, where both the FDA chief and the Surgeon General have qualified the rise in youth vaping as “an epidemic”.

Research has found that vaping increases the risk of future smoking by as much as 400%.

According to a new pan-Canadian Léger poll: 69% support urgent intervention by the government to fight young people’s use of vaping products, 82% support a ban on internet and television advertising for vaping products with nicotine, and 86% believe that the government should apply the same advertising restrictions to vaping products with nicotine as it does to tobacco products.

The results strongly support recent calls by health groups for quick federal action to address what recent research has shown to be rapid increases in youth vaping across Canada.

With the adoption of Bill S-5 on May 23, 2018, the federal government opened the floodgates to widespread and aggressive marketing by vaping product manufacturers, including Big Tobacco. Advertisements have appeared on TV, on outside billboards and at point of sale, on subway walls, on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube, as well as massive in-your-face artistic installations and street events.

While Health Minister Ginette Petitpas-Taylor has come to recognize the urgent problem of youth vaping and nicotine addiction, the government’s regulatory response has been limited to the launch of two consultations – one aiming to limit youth exposure to advertising and the other to regulate various attributes of vaping products including flavors, design and nicotine content. Health groups consider this approach wholly inadequate, pointing to the drawn-out regulatory process that could take years before any new measure is implemented1. The groups are reiterating their call for immediate legislative action, to be taken before the summer break. “Passing a bill can take as little as a few weeks if there is political will, while adopting regulations could take years. Tens of thousands more kids will become addicted to nicotine by the time new regulations will come into effect,” explains Neil Collishaw, Research Director for Physicians for a Smoke-free Canada (PSC).

“The general public appears to be just as outraged by the government’s slow pace as we are. Seven out of 10 Canadians agree that the government needs to intervene in an urgent manner with concrete measures in order to fight this rampant, flagrant and reckless marketing that is resulting in the addiction of our kids.”

Regulatory measures under consideration, as stated in Health Canada’s Notice of Intent to regulate, would still permit nicotine e-cigarette ads on TV, on the internet and in social settings like bars, in addition to sales over the Internet. “The proposed measures are clearly insufficient. Everyone knows that kids are better at navigating the internet than their parents. And allowing internet sales makes it easier to set up illegal distribution networks as well as online sharing of brand elements and other promotional images,” says Michael Perley, executive director on Ontario Campaign for Action on Tobacco.


Photo: Samples of advertising that appeared following the legalization of e-cigarettes and their marketing by the federal government in May 2018 (CNW Group)

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