Health minister wants 'balanced' but 'aggressive' approach to vaping regulations

Federal Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor said her department wants to take a balanced and aggressive approach to regulating the advertisement of vaping products.

New Brunswick Lung Association official calls the number of young people vaping an 'epidemic'

Federal Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor said the department doesn't want to see an uptick in youth vaping. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

Federal Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor said her department wants to take a balanced and aggressive approach to regulating the advertisement of vaping products.

The minister said in an interview with Information Morning Fredericton she proposed new measures Tuesday to curb youth vaping.

The proposals would tighten regulations introduced in 2018 and include mandatory health warnings on vaping products, restricted advertising and the second phase of a public education and awareness campaign.

Advertising restrictions would include a ban on retail advertising in spaces where youth are allowed and a ban on billboards and other outdoor ads.

"We certainly want to make sure that we aggressively deal with this situation, because we certainly don't want to see an uptick when it comes to youth vaping," Petitpas Taylor said.

Youth vaping is an 'epidemic'

Barbara Walls, the director of health promotion for the New Brunswick Lung Association, applauded the federal government for their renewed efforts to stop vaping in youth.

She said the advent of vaping has set the anti-smoking campaign back 30 years. She said the number of youth vaping is an "epidemic."

The number of young people vaping is an "epidemic," according to Barbara Walls, the director of health promotion for the New Brunswick Lung Association. (Steven Senne/Associated Press)

Walls said the number of young people vaping in the United States has increased 75 per cent. She said she believes the Canadian picture would be similar.

"Teenagers are teenagers no matter where they live," said Walls

"Unfortunately in the quest to find one's path of personality and be popular we're willing as a teenager to try risky behaviour."

Risks and benefits 

The 2016-17 Canadian Student Tobacco, Alcohol and Drugs Survey showed 10 per cent of students in grades 7 to 12 (secondary I to V in Quebec) reported having used an e-cigarette in the past 30 days. This represented an increase from six per cent in 2014-15.

Petitpas Taylor acknowledged some people use vaping in order to quit smoking.

Health Canada is particularly interested in hearing about the role flavours and product design have in appealing to youth. (Aliaksandr Barouski/Shutterstock)

A new study released this year by the New England Journal of Medicine suggested that e-cigarettes are more effective than nicotine gum or patches to help people quit smoking.

"We certainly appreciate that, but also we want to make sure that we're in no way encouraging our younger population to pick up a habit such as vaping," the federal health minister said.

Future regulations

Petitpas Taylor said Health Canada's upcoming consultation period is interested in hearing about the role of flavours, nicotine concentration and product design, especially how they may appeal to children or youth.

"You wouldn't want to call a vaping flavour 'strawberry cheesecake' for example, because that would sound appealing to children," the federal health minister said.

"What we have to keep in mind here is that these tools can also help many Canadians stop smoking as well, so we have to have a balanced approach."

The department will be launching more proposed changes in March.

With files from Information Morning Fredericton

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