Measures should include raising the minimum age for vaping and tobacco products to 21
Saint John, New Brunswick –
The Canadian Cancer Society released a new video campaign today (see here), with a clear message for all members of the Legislative Assembly on behalf of New Brunswick students: increase the minimum age to 21 to be sold tobacco and e-cigarettes to protect youth from becoming addicted to nicotine.
“Vaping rates in this province are reaching epidemic levels,” says Lana Randell, Senior Advocacy Coordinator in New Brunswick. “We need government to continue to address growing concerns related to youth vaping and smoking by increasing the minimum age to 21 for tobacco and e-cigarettes to reduce youth access to these products.”
We recognize and applaud the New Brunswick government’s leadership for implementing legislation to restrict e-cigarette flavours. However, action should not stop there to protect our youth from nicotine addiction. The Government has an opportunity to highlight the ongoing tobacco epidemic and continue to create effective policies and programs that will promote healthier lifestyles and protect the next generation of Canadians.
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%. Youth e-cigarette usage in New Brunswick exceeds national averages and we must act now to improve addiction outcomes.
The overwhelming majority of smokers begin as teenagers so increasing the legal minimum age to 21 is essential to help prevent youth from ever starting to smoke or vape. In 2019, Prince Edward Island adopted legislation to increase the minimum tobacco and e-cigarette age to 21. In the US, there are at least 30 states and D.C. with a minimum age of 21 for tobacco and e-cigarettes in addition to a national minimum age of 21. It is time New Brunswick joined the movement.
Tobacco is the leading cause of preventable disease and death in Canada, killing 48,000 Canadians annually, including about 30% of all cancer deaths. “Tobacco use places a significant burden on our overwhelmed healthcare system,” adds Randell. “We know the vast majority of smokers begin smoking by adolescence or young adulthood, so if we can curb tobacco use at that age, we can not only alleviate the burden it puts on our healthcare system but help Canadians live longer and healthier lives.”
A report by the Institute of Medicine concluded that increasing the minimum tobacco sales age to 21 in the US would reduce smoking rates among 15- to 17-year-olds by 25%, and among 18 and 19-year-olds by 15%. In Canada, modelling projections by the Ontario Tobacco Research Unit in January 2019 found that implementation of age 21 would reduce smoking prevalence by 3.7 %, from 16.9% in 2018 to 13.2% in 2035.
We know increasing the minimum age to 21 works. Delaying the age when young people first experiment or begin using tobacco can reduce the risk that they transition to regular tobacco users and become addicted.
You can watch the video here (Video)
About the Canadian Cancer Society
The Canadian Cancer Society works tirelessly to save and improve lives. We fund the brightest minds in cancer research. We provide a compassionate support system for all those affected by cancer, from coast to coast and for all types of cancer. As the voice for Canadians who care about cancer, we work with governments to shape a healthier society. No other organization does all that we do to make lives better today and transform the future of cancer forever. Help us make a difference. Call 1-888-939-3333 or visit cancer.ca today.
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