With teen use of e-cigarettes on the rise, and the Public Health Agency of Canada signaling an “alarming number of youth vaping in Canada”, the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) is calling for new restrictions on vaping advertising.
In its recent submission to Health Canada, the CMA called on the government to tighten its rules and ban advertising of vaping products from all public spaces and broadcast media.
We need to avoid the mistakes of the past with respect to tobacco regulations and move to tighten the rules around e-cigarettes now. - CMA President Dr. Gigi Osler
Evidence provided by health agencies in the US and Canada shows a marked increase in the number of young people vaping.
A recent US survey indicated that among high school students, e-cigarette use rose 78% (from 11.7% to 20.8%) between 2017 and 2018. Although Canadian data is still in the works, the Durham Region Health Department has reported that 17% of high school students in that region used an e-cigarette in the past year (2016-17), numbers that are similar for the rest of Ontario.
With flavours like mango and fruit medley, and prominent counter displays in convenience stores, many teens view vaping as a harmless habit. High-tech versions of e-cigarettes, such as the pod-based JUUL™, use nicotine “salts” to deliver higher concentrations of nicotine, with less bitterness.
Yet the long-term health impacts of vaping are not well-understood.
In April, the US Food and Drug Administration said at least 35 people reported seizures after using electronic cigarettes over the past decade. At the same time, numerous chemicals have been identified in e-cigarette liquids and aerosols, while researchers in Canada and the US have reported “strong evidence” that e-cigarettes lead to cigarette use amongst young people.
With these factors in mind, the CMA is also calling for warning labels on all vaping products similar to those found on tobacco packages.
Canada’s doctors see the devastating effects of tobacco on their patients every day. Since issuing its first public warning about tobacco in 1954, the CMA has been a strong advocate for strict measures to control its use. As Health Canada continues its review of the regulations governing e-cigarettes, the CMA will continue to ensure physicians’ voices and public health are considered.