Saskatoon

Canadian Cancer Society says e-cigarette rates for Sask. teens a 'wake-up call'

Along with trying e-cigarettes, Sask. teens have a high rate for tobacco use.

Health Canada finds 8.2 per cent of Sask. teens have tried e-cigarettes

In Saskatchewan, 8.2 per cent of teens surveyed said they had tried e-cigarettes, compared to 5.7 per cent nationally. (Associated Press)

The Canadian Cancer Society hopes new numbers from Health Canada will serve as a wake-up call to the provincial government when it comes to electronic cigarettes.

On Wednesday, Health Canada released the results of its Canadian Student Tobacco, Alcohol and Drugs Survey done in the 2014-15 school year. It found nearly 27 per cent of Saskatchewan teens surveyed said they had tried using tobacco, compared to 18 per cent across the country.

When asking specifically about e-cigarettes, 8.2 per cent of teens surveyed in Saskatchewan had tried them, compared to 5.7 per cent nationally.

"Eight other provinces were concerned enough that they passed laws to regulate e-cigarettes. Saskatchewan has not. So I'm hoping that will be a wake-up call to this government," said Donna Pasiechnik with the Canadian Cancer Society in Saskatchewan.

Pasiechnik explained that right now, there is nothing preventing kids from buying e-cigarettes in Saskatchewan.

Donna Pasiechnik with the Canadian Cancer Society in Saskatchewan said she hopes the numbers released by Health Canada serve as a wake-up call to the provincial government.

"Nicotine is nicotine," Pasiechnik said.

"It's not much of a switch to go to tobacco products, right? Or use one when you can't use the other. And really the whole point about regulation around tobacco products and e-cigarettes is to prevent another generation from becoming addicted."

In an emailed response, the provincial government told CBC News that while it continues to focus on targeting youth tobacco rates, it is not considering further legislation regarding e-cigarettes at this time.

"A federal parliamentary committee has studied the potential risks/benefits of e-cigarettes and provided a report with recommendations to the federal government.  It is hoped that the federal government will respond to the report with any necessary actions," said Dr. Saqib Shahab, the province's chief medical health officer.

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