P.E.I. Lung Association targets adults in battle against youth vaping

The P.E.I. Lung Association has launched a new toolkit to help parents, teachers and coaches talk to young people about vaping.

Association focuses on 'adult influencers' to get message about vaping out

A high school student uses a vaping device in the U.S. in 2018. A new toolkit created by the P.E.I. Lung Association is aimed at adults, rather than the young people it wants to convince to quit. (Steven Senne/The Associated Press)

The P.E.I. Lung Association has launched a new toolkit to help parents, teachers and coaches talk to young people about vaping.

The association, in partnership with the Home and School Federation and Sport P.E.I., has created a toolkit with different modules for teachers, parents and families, and coaches.

"We're trying to work with adult influencers that are in the youths' lives to get this information out to them," said Julia Hartley, the association's co-ordinator.

Hartley said the P.E.I. organization decided to target adults because Health Canada already has an anti-vaping campaign aimed at youth and because surveys had shown them that many adults have misconceptions about vaping.

'Trying to meet the kids where they're at'

The toolkit covers what vaping is, why it's popular with youth and how to have a conversation about it with young people.

The information was still crafted with children in mind — focus groups this fall in Charlottetown and Stratford with youth ages 12 to 14 showed they wanted to hear personal stories from other youth, which is reflected in the material.

"We were trying to meet the kids where they're at and see the kinds of issues that would resonate with them," Hartley said.

"Often children aren't as affected by something that might happen to them in 20 years, but when they see someone else that's their age with an issue ... resulting directly from vaping, then I think that that's something that might connect with them a little better."

95% prefer flavoured juices

Aside from the toolkit, the association is lobbying for P.E.I. to follow in the footsteps of Nova Scotia, which is banning the sale of flavoured e-cigarettes and juices as of April 1. 

We completely support a ban on flavouring— Julia Hartley, P.E.I. Lung Association

The non-profit group Smoke Free Nova Scotia recently conducted a survey that showed 95 per cent of youth who vape in Nova Scotia said they prefer flavoured juices, and more than 48 per cent said they would quit if flavours were banned.

The only types of e-cigarettes and juice that will be available in Nova Scotia after the ban comes into effect are bland and tobacco. Hartley said the association wants the same rules in P.E.I.

"These flavours are created to directly target youth and to get them vaping and ... we completely support a ban on flavouring," she said.

P.E.I. restricting certain flavours

In November, the P.E.I. Legislature unanimously passed a private member's bill that aims to restrict where vaping products are sold, raises the age limit on e-cigarettes and tobacco from 19 to 21 and restricts the sale of certain flavours.

The Canadian Vaping Association has said banning flavoured products may protect youth from purchasing e-cigarettes and other vaping products, but limits options for adults looking to stop smoking cigarettes.

The Vaping Industry Trade Association said that vaping is much less harmful than smoking, but also stresses that minors should not have access to vaping products.

More P.E.I. news

With files from CBC Nova Scotia


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