Saskatchewan

Is your child vaping? Regina Catholic Schools educating parents as trend continues to rise

Vaping is on the rise among teens and local high schools want to educated them and their parents on the risks.

Canadian Cancer Society calling on province to adopt vaping regulations

Health Canada says youth vaping is on the rise. It's looking to reverse that trend and is currently holding a public consultation on the topic. (Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters)

Vaping is on the rise among teens and local high schools want to educate them and their parents on the risks.

In the next few weeks, each high school governed by Regina Catholic Schools will hold a vaping information session.

Savanna Briere, a Grade 11 student at Miller Comprehensive Catholic High School, said vaping is the new normal.

"If you don't you're kind of lame. Not lame, but people would be like, you've never done that before?" said Briere. "A lot of young kids have a nicotine addiction I would say. They just need their nicotine."

Savanna Briere, a Grade 11 student at Miller Comprehensive Catholic High School, says vaping is very common among her classmates. (CBC News/Matt Howard)

Briere said she doesn't vape, but that it's become a daily habit for most of her peers. She said most are hiding their vaping from their parents.

Vaping products are cheaper than cigarettes. It's about $50 CAD for a vaping device, which often look like a pen or a USB stick. Then you buy pods in flavours like mint and mango, which cost about $20 for four. Each pod has about as much nicotine as a pack of cigarettes.

Briere said most teens she knows go through pods very quickly.

'It's safer than smoking but so is juggling knives'

Bart Cote, vice principal at Michael A. Riffel Catholic High School, said students caught vaping have their vapes confiscated and the student is suspended.

Cote said teachers have been educated on what to look for, but that most parents are surprised to find out their kids are vaping.

"The parents aren't really aware of vaping," said Cote. "You know, we're all aware of cigarettes but e-cigarettes are new and I think that's the biggest thing is making sure that people are aware what is in a vape and how much nicotine is in those vapes, what they look like."

Juul is one of the leading vape brands and sells products that look like USB devices. (CBC News/Matt Howard)

Drug education counsellor Rand Teed will be leading the sessions. He said he hopes to educate youth on the risks and realities of vaping.

"They think it's cool and fun and don't really see the down side of it. It's really setting them up for a lifetime of nicotine addiction," Teed said.

Teed said nicotine interferes with dopamine levels in the brain, making it difficult for users to focus on tasks and control impulses and mood, especially when they're young.

The substances used to flavour the pods have been tested for oral consumption but not for lung inhalation.

"Assuming they're safe isn't really fair or smart," said Teed. "It's safer than smoking but so is juggling knives."

Health Canada says youth vaping is on the rise. It's looking to reverse that trend and is currently holding a public consultation on the topic. It is asking for comments on advertising, display and overall packaging of vaping products.

Vaping not regulated in Saskatchewan

Federal legislation says you have to be 18 to buy vaping products, but the provinces have jurisdiction.

Saskatchewan is one of two that has not adopted vaping regulations.

The Canadian Cancer Society wants that to change. It has given a list of recommendations to the Saskatchewan government regarding vapes. It's asking the province to ban sales of e-cigarettes and vaping products to minors, ban the use of vapes anywhere smoking is banned, prohibit the retail promotion and display of vaping products and limit where they can be sold.

Donna Pasiechnik is a health policy analyst with the Canadian Cancer Society Saskatchewam. She is calling on the province to regulate vaping products, which she says are now are easily accessible to minors. (CBC News/Matt Howard)

Health policy analyst Donna Pasiechnik said the products are easily accessible to minors.

"We've been calling on the Saskatchewan government for the last four or five years to address vaping and get some regulations in place," she said. "Now we see products all over convenience stores, right in front of kids, to see and try and purchase.

"We'd like to see these products out of convenience stores, period."

The Ministry of Health sent CBC a statement that reads, "We continue to monitor the effectiveness of federal legislation and the approaches taken in other provinces with the goal of protecting the health of Saskatchewan people."

About the Author

Alex Soloducha is a reporter for CBC Saskatchewan.

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