"A regulatory process would take two years or more, resulting in tens of thousands more kids addicted to nicotine"
OTTAWA, Feb. 5, 2019 /CNW/ - While Canadian tobacco control organizations welcome the federal government's recognition of the public health threat of rapidly increasing youth consumption of nicotine vaping products, they are calling on parliamentarians for a more urgent remedy than the regulatory approach proposed today by Health Canada.
"We are asking Health Minister Petitpas Taylor to take immediate legislative action to restrain the rampant, flagrant and reckless marketing of nicotine vaping products" says Neil Collishaw, Research Director for Physicians for a Smoke-free Canada (PSC), referring to the marketing of e-cigarettes that was unleashed after Bill S-5 passed on May 23rd 2018 despite repeated warnings from health groups. "Passing a bill can take as little as a few weeks if the political will is there."
"Regulations would take two years or more, especially given the upcoming federal elections. In fact, the time it would take to adopt regulations would be at least twice as long as the amount of time pro-vaping marketing has been legal in Canada. By being too late, it will be too little. Tens of thousands of more kids will become addicted to nicotine by the time new regulations will come into effect," adds Mr. Collishaw.
"The current youth vaping debacle was entirely predictable," adds Michael Perley, Executive Director of the Ontario Campaign for Action on Tobacco. "Indeed, tobacco control groups insisted from the get-go that promotion should be limited to those who could benefit from nicotine vaping products: smokers. They have been warning legislators of the risks of widespread marketing visible to non-smokers and youth ever since the law was introduced in early 2017." During the process leading up to the adoption of Bill S-5, concerns raised by tobacco control groups were echoed by some parliamentarians (including Conservative Senator Judith Seidman, NDP health critic Don Davies and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health John Oliver), who may have nevertheless been swayed by Health Canada's assurances.
After barely eight months of advertising on TV, billboards, points of sale and through the Internet, the damage is similar to what the Surgeon General qualified as an "epidemic" in the US. In fact, new data recently presented by world renowned researcher David Hammond reveals that past 30-day vaping among 16-19 year-olds in Canada has increased by 74%, with youth smoking possibly increasing as well. Research has found that vaping increases the risk of future smoking by as much as 400%.
According to Les Hagen, Executive Director of Action on Smoking & Health, "the current approach of essentially giving free reign to manufacturers to advertise while taking a 'wait-and-see' approach to the public health implications is absolutely irresponsible. Now that the negative repercussions of this strategy are becoming obvious, Canadians are supposed to wait another two or three years before the flaws in the law are actually fixed? On the contrary, parliamentarians should intervene on an urgent basis and change the law to prevent even more damage to our youth, instead of relying on a much slower regulatory process. Where there is a will, there is a much quicker way."
"While we appreciate today's announcement implicitly acknowledging the government's ill-advised decision to allow e-cigarette marketing aimed at the general public, protection delayed is protection denied. We are talking about kids facing a lifelong addiction and a four-fold increase that they will become cigarette smokers. We are calling on all parliamentarians to show leadership by coming together and passing urgent legislation to protect our children from further damage," concludes Flory Doucas, co-director of the Quebec Coalition for Tobacco Control.
SOURCE Action on Smoking & Health
For further information: Neil Collishaw: 613-297-3590; Flory Doucas: 514-515-6780; Les Hagen: 780-919-5546; Michael Perley: 416-349-2992 or 416-709-9075 (cell)