New Brunswick lags far behind other Atlantic provinces in curbing youth vaping.
SAINT JOHN, NB -
The Canadian Cancer Society is calling on all political parties to immediately adopt legislation to target youth vaping and protect youth from becoming addicted to nicotine. This call comes from growing concerns about the rapid increase in youth vaping as reflected in the 2020-21 Youth and Young Adult Vaping Survey of New Brunswick, a survey of youth aged 16-24. The lead author of the Canada-wide survey is Dr. Mohammed Al-Hamdani of the Lung Association of Nova Scotia. The survey was conducted to better understand vaping behaviour, experiences, and product preferences of regular e-cigarette users among New Brunswick’s youth.
The survey results among New Brunswick youth indicate that 92% of participants currently prefer using flavoured vape juices, and 90% began vaping using a flavoured vape juice. Of New Brunswick youth participants who prefer flavoured vape juices, 48% reported they would not continue to vape if they could not purchase flavoured juices. Of those surveyed, 88.4% reported currently using vape juice containing nicotine and 61.1% of participants that consumed nicotine products used the highest permitted nicotine concentration (50-60 mg/mL). Survey results indicated 22.5% of participants reported purchasing their vaping device from a friend and 89.1% of participants reported offering their e-cigarette to someone else to use.
“Youth vaping in New Brunswick is reaching alarming levels and this survey has shown us very troubling trends that we need to address now. We need government to take strong immediate action by passing a suite of comprehensive measures designed to curb vaping amongst youth,” says Kelly Wilson Cull, Director, Advocacy, Canadian Cancer Society. “We know stronger e-cigarette regulations protect youth and benefit public health as high nicotine levels in these products has led to a new generation of young people becoming addicted.”
Effective action on vaping must include key policy measures such as removing flavours from e-cigarettes, raising the minimum age for e-cigarettes and tobacco to 21, restricting e-cigarette sales to adult-only locations and implementing a tax on e-cigarettes, among others.
“When the 60th Legislative Assembly in New Brunswick resumes tomorrow on May 11, the provincial government has an opportunity to highlight the ongoing youth vaping epidemic and create effective policies and programs that will promote healthier lifestyles and protect the next generation of Canadians,” adds Wilson Cull. “Adopting the private member’s bill to ban flavoured e-cigarettes tabled by New Brunswick Liberal Health Critic Jean-Claude D’Amours would be a strong start.”
In 2019, Prince Edward Island adopted legislation to increase the minimum tobacco and e-cigarette age to 21 and to restrict sales of e-cigarettes to adult-only specialty vape stores. In 2020, Nova Scotia implemented regulations to eliminate the sale of flavoured e-cigarettes, cap nicotine levels at 20mg/ml and implement a tax on e-cigarettes. Most recently, Newfoundland and Labrador implemented a tax on e-cigarettes.
In New Brunswick, results from the 2018-2019 Canadian Student Tobacco, Alcohol and Drugs Survey (CSTADS) indicate that 41% of grades 7 to 12 students in New Brunswick have tried e-cigarettes, compared with the national average of 34%. The number of New Brunswick students in grades 7-12 who reported using an e-cigarette in the last 30 days was 28%, much higher than the national average of 20%. For New Brunswick students in grades 10-12, e-cigarette use was 39%, compared with the national average of 29%. Youth e-cigarette usage in New Brunswick exceeds national averages and we must act now to improve addiction outcomes.
“The e-cigarette industry has designed a persuasive and enticing market for youth, and the growing use and popularity of vaping products is a direct threat to the progress made in tobacco control,” says Wilson Cull. “Governments have an opportunity to stem the tide of this growing crisis, and we urge them to act swiftly and decisively.”
Evidence indicates that youth who use e-cigarettes are more likely to become smokers. Tobacco is the leading cause of preventable disease and death in Canada, which is why CCS urges the provincial government to ban flavoured e-cigarettes and adopt a minimum age of 21. The vast majority of smokers begin smoking before the age of 19 and many of them get and stay addicted. A recent report by the Institute of Medicine concluded that increasing the minimum tobacco sales age to 21 in the U.S. would reduce smoking rates among 15- to 17-year-olds by 25%, and among 18 and 19-year-olds by 15%.
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