Since 2013, five provinces have outlawed the sale of flavoured tobacco. The rationale of those laws is the product entices teens and children to smoke.
Tobacco companies, crafty as they are, have found the loophole in that law through the sale of e-cigarettes, otherwise known as vaping, which come in a variety of flavours. While the product can't legally be sold to those under 18, you don't have to look far to see teens puffing away on them. Statistics are showing a drastic increase in the use of e-cigarettes by both youth and adults as the products have been marketed as a "safer" alternative to smoking or a smoking cessation option. However, as use increases evidence is emerging that vaping might actually be more dangerous than smoking.
The Centre For Disease Control in the United States is currently investigating what it is terming an outbreak of lung illness that it believes is linked to vaping. There currently 450 cases of lung illness – nearly double the cases since the first advisory was issued back in August – that have been associated with people who use e-cigarettes.
According to the advisory all reported cases have a history of e-cigarette product use or vaping and most patients have reported a history of using e-cigarette products containing THC. Many patients have also reported using THC and nicotine, while some have reported the use of e-cigarette products containing only nicotine.
The outbreak has resulted in the death of six people and has sparked a warning from health officials that people refrain from vaping.
While health officials have not definitively identified vaping as the cause of the illness the commonality of vaping habits among all patients is cause for concern. This is especially true considering the use of e-cigarettes continues to rise as marketing lures people in with messages of it being cheaper and safer than smoking.
Alberta Health has stated that it plans to review its regulations around vaping in November, which, if Saskatchewan implements its vaping legislation this fall as planned, would put this province as the last to regulate e-cigarettes.
Though there are age restrictions for the purchase of e-cigarettes and vaping products, unlike cigarettes or cannabis, there are no restrictions on the advertising of vaping products, which puts impressionable youh at risk.
According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation, "Canadian student surveys from 2016-17 found that 23% of students in grade 7-12 reported ever trying an e-cigarette. This represents an increase from 20% found in 2014-15."
There was a time when cigarettes were deemed safe until their link to cancer was established. We should learn from that mistake.