New Brunswick

Medical society joins call for stricter rules on vape products

The New Brunswick Medical Society is backing efforts by Health Canada to reduce the amount of nicotine manufacturers are legally allowed to include in their e-cigarette products.

About 40 per cent of New Brunswick in grades 7 to 12 say they've tried vaping

Vaping products are currently allowed to contain up to 66 mg/ml of nicotine, according to Health Canada. (CCO/Pixabay)

The New Brunswick Medical Society is getting behind Health Canada in its efforts to reduce the amount of nicotine e-cigarette manufacturers are allowed to include in their products.

In an interview, Dr. Jeff Steeves, president of the society, said the province has seen an alarming increase in the number of youth who've used the products. Doctors are worried that the amounts of nicotine in e-cigarettes is a contributing factor to their growing popularity among young people.

"The statistics on how many kids have tried e-cigarettes have come from the Canadian Student Tobacco, Alcohol and Drug Survey, which ... showed that there's sort of been a tripling of use in Grade 10 to 12 in the last four years."

In the survey, 41 per cent of New Brunswick students in grades 7 to12 admitted to having tried vaping at least once in  2018 or 2019. Meanwhile, 27 per cent reported using e-cigarettes in the past 30 days.

Last December, Health Canada announced it was pursuing regulations that would reduce the amount of allowed nicotine concentration in vaping products to 20 mg/ml. The current limit is 66 mg/ml, according to the department.

In a news release Dec. 18, Health Canada said it was opening a 75-day public consultation on its proposed changes, which will end March 4.

Dr. Jeff Steeves, president of the New Brunswick Medical Society. (New Brunswick Medical Society)

"The changes proposed today build on existing measures already taken by the Government of Canada to address the rise in youth vaping, including extensive public education campaigns and banning the advertising of vaping products in public spaces if the ads can be seen or heard by youth," the department said in the release.

"Health Canada is also considering to further restrict flavours in vaping products, and require the vaping industry to provide information about their vaping products, including sales, ingredients, and research and development activities."

Health Canada says the regulation would align the country with the European Union, as well as the provinces of British Columbia and Nova Scotia, which have imposed a 20 mg/ml limit on the concentration of vaping products that can be sold.

Steeves said he thinks lowering the limit would result in fewer New Brunswick youth becoming addicted to nicotine.

"It's the chemicals that are in them, the first nicotine, which is a stimulant," he said.

"And so it does some good things in the short term — good things where you're going to have a little more energy, be a little more alert. Your memory and mood might be a bit better. However, it also increases your heart rate, increases your blood pressure and then you become habituated to it."

From there, youth might transition to smoking cigarettes to feed their nicotine dependance, he said.

He's also worried about the lesser-known effects of vaping, with a string of illnesses and deaths connected to certain e-cigarette products in recent years.

"It's also been reported that smoking or vaping increase your risk of catching COVID and having a more serious outcome with COVID, so, you know, it's not innocuous."

Steeves said he's encouraging New Brunswickers who also want to see the limit reduced to sign an online petition as part of the Protect Canadian Kids Campaign. The campaign is supported by the Canadian Cancer Society, the Canadian Lung Association, the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, and Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada.

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