Cancer Society calls on N.L. government to raise tobacco age to 21
The number of students who have tried an e-cigarette in N.L. is 14% than the national average
A new campaign launched by the Canadian Cancer Society is calling on the provincial government to increase the legal age to buy tobacco and vaping products from 19 to 21.
A video released Tuesday by the organization shows vaping from the perspective of youth. After talking about the spread of what it calls a vaping "epidemic" in schools, the video ends with students asking the government to change its policy on the selling of e-cigarettes and e-cigarette flavours.
"Raising the legal age to 21 is trying to get rid of the open access that youth have to these products," says one student in the video.
Amanda Mansfield, the society's public issues co-ordinator, said it's important to have students at the centre of the campaign, as they are the ones who see the impact of vaping in their schools.
"They've seen themselves how it can affect things like their performance in sports and their performance in school," Mansfield said.
According to a federal survey of tobacco, alcohol and drug use by Canadian students, about 47 per cent of students in Newfoundland and Labrador from grades 7 to 12 have tried an e-cigarette —13 percentage points higher than the national average of about 34 per cent.
The Canadian Cancer Society is asking the provincial government to take a legislative approach to address vaping, by raising the minimum age to 21, cutting access to flavour pods that can attract young people to e-cigarettes, and changing other sales regulations.
Other provinces have taken considerable action on vaping. We would like the government of Newfoundland and Labrador to follow the lead.- Amanda Mansfield
Other provinces across Canada have made changes to legislation. Mansfield points to Prince Edward Island, which raised the age of access from 19 to 21 last year.
"Other provinces have taken considerable action on vaping," said Mansfield. "We would like the government of Newfoundland and Labrador to follow the lead."
Mansfield said tobacco is the leading preventable cause of disease and death in Newfoundland and Labrador, and the country as a whole.
"So we need immediate action to address this, and that really includes responding to the dramatic increase in youth vaping," she said.
Provincial Health Minister John Haggie said vaping among students is a concern, and is on the province's radar.
"Obviously from our point of view it is a concern because it threatens the health of future generations," Haggie said.
With files from Janelle Kelly and Mark Quinn