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Professional Issues Supporting Your Practice

Youth and Vaping: Trends, Prevention, and Proposed Regulations

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This March, the Federal Government is holding public consultations seeking comments from health partners, the general public, and members of the industry concerning proposed measures to limit vaping product advertisements to protect youth and non-users. In the coming months, after consultation, the government will firm up rules and regulations about:

  • Where ads can be placed
  • The content of those ads
  • Health warnings to appear alongside permitted promotional efforts
  • Limiting the display of vaping products in retail locations

New rules and limits around vaping promotion will fall under the Tobacco and Vaping Products Act (TVPA) enacted in 2018. This act has created a new framework to regulate vaping products and protect youth and non-users.

Vaping statistics in Canada

The Canadian Tobacco, Alcohol, and Drugs Survey administered in 2017 to Canadians 15 and older found that:

  • 15% of Canadians have tried a vaping product (referred to as an e-cigarette in the survey).
  • Youth (15 to 19 years old) and young adults (20 to 24 years old) have the highest rates of trying vaping–this compared to adults 25 years and older.
  • Among Canadians who used a vaping product in the past 30 days, 65% are current smokers and 20% are former smokers (15% reported having never smoked cigarettes).
  • 32% of current or former cigarette smokers who had ever used vaping products reported using it as a quit-smoking aid.

When it comes to youth vaping habits, the Canadian Student Tobacco, Alcohol and Drugs Survey administered every two years to students in grades 7-12 found that:

  • 23% of students in grades 7-12 had tried a vaping product (referred to as an e-cigarette in the survey).
  • 10% reported using them within the last 30 days.
  • Most students who had tried a vaping product (such as e-cigarettes) had also tried a cigarette.
  • 53% of all students thought it would be “fairly easy” or “very easy” to get a vaping product such as e-cigarettes if they wanted one.

While vaping has been found to be less harmful than smoking it is not safe for use by youth due to its nicotine content and addictive properties.

Vaping liquids also contain glycerol, flavours, propylene glycol. When heated during the vaping process, these substances produce new chemicals like formaldehyde.

Curbing vaping among youth 

Dentists are in a unique position to talk with patients, parents, and caregivers about youth vaping and to add this to their existing smoking cessation efforts. Sharing resources about how to talk with kids about vaping and standing ready to answer questions about the health considerations and risks can help patients make informed decisions.

While regulations on promotion and advertising from the Federal Government are pending, some provinces have already acted and banned the promotion of vaping products in convenience stores. Students in highs schools in Alberta and Nova Scotia have taken actions within their schools to try and curb vaping among their peers and help parents and teachers better understand its prevalence.

Later this year, regulatory measures that limit where advertisements can be placed at points of sale, in public places, in broadcast and print media, as well as ad content and health warning requirements will be informed by the current public consultations.

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