Nickel Belt MPP reintroduces youth anti-vaping bill

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Nickel Belt MPP France Gélinas is taking another kick at the can with a bill she’s hoping will target youth vaping.

Gélinas tabled her ‘Vaping is not for kids bill’ on Wednesday, telling CTV News that kids and families are worried their children are being exposed.

If passed, the bill would bump the legal age of selling products to 21, prohibit the promotion of vaping products, restrict sale to vape shops and require Ontario Health to do an annual report on vaping usage.

“It’s been a few years now since vaping has been made legal and a lot of health-related organizations are keeping on eye on it,” said Gélinas.

“We’re starting to know more about vaping and the effects on youth. The effects are not good — some of them are terrible and we have no cure for them.”

Her bill has earned her praise from the Lung Health Association and the Canadian Cancer Society, which both say greater government oversight is required.

Both point to statistics from Health Canada that say the symptoms of vaping, or vaping-related illness, can include cough, fever, shortness of breath, chest pain, diarrhea and abdominal pain.

“We limit the sale of cannabis, we limit the sale to speciality stores only, we don’t sell cannabis in convenience stores or gas stations, but we sell cigarettes and vaping products in gas stations — that shouldn’t be done,” said Rob Cunningham of the Canadian Cancer Society.

Cunningham said the majority of new smokers and new vapers are under age 18 and if the government can increase the age, there would be a big impact.

He said these measures have already been put into place in Eastern Canada and said it’s time for Ontario to do the same.

“Selling tobacco to minors has been a long time, notorious problem,” Cunningham said.

“It’s been illegal for more than 100 years but it’s been real hard to enforce because kids know which stores will sell to them and that’s also the case for vaping products.”

“This is a very comprehensive set of measures and it is what an individual MPP could propose in the bill,” he added. “There could also be vaping taxes and that is something we recommend being done both federally and provincially.”

The Canadian Vaping Association however says not so fast. It said the measures that are being introduced are short-sighted.

Executive director Darryl Tempest said the problem is complex and the proposed legislation doesn’t target things like alcohol or tobacco.

Less harmful alternative

“Vaping is far more effective to get people off combustible tobacco and it’s been proven seven years in a row from the Royal College of Physicians to be 95 per cent less harmful than smoking — where is that consideration in this legislation?” said Tempest.

He said the one thing we need to understand is that smoking, particularly combustible smoking, is the largest form of preventable death in the nation.

According to his figures, there are more than four million smokers in Canada and 1.1 million have chosen a less harmful alternative.

“We need to get this conversation back to where it belongs and that’s adults do matter,” he said.

“Their harm reduction strategies do matter and out of the four pillars of Canadian society, harm reduction is one of them and yet in this proposed legislation, adults are completely ignored.”

Gélinas said her bill is about protecting young people. She also knows she’ll need some support from the Progressive Conservatives and has already started talking to some of her colleagues across the aisle.

Timing will be crucial if she wants to get it passed before the legislature is dissolved ahead of the spring election.

“Right now there seems to be a lot of informal support, I won’t know for sure until a little bit later on but right now informal conversations with people, it looks pretty good that everyone is on board,” she said.

Read full article here.

Ian Campbell – CTV News – 2022-02-25.

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