Across Canada underage youth are legally restricted from purchasing alcohol, marijuana, cigarettes and vaping products. But according to recently released data in a study published yesterday in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), they are using them anyway.

Provincial tobacco control coalitions and physicians’ groups immediately reacted to the results of the study and the media headlines say it all: a recent report in the British Medical Journal, shows that Canada has experienced a “massive”, “staggering”, “whopping” increase in teen vaping.

The provincial government of British Columbia and the Canadian Cancer Society used the data from the BMJ Report to publicly demand that the Federal Government immediately introduce vaping regulations that would restrict nicotine content, device design and flavours. Their failure to do so, the BC government implied, would result in BC introducing more restrictive provincial regulation.

“What’s not mentioned is that both federal and provincial vaping legislation already exists which restricts sales to anyone under the age of 18, promotion, display advertising and communication and limits features like certain flavours and designs thought to be appealing to youth,” said Dr. Chris Lalonde, Academic Research Advisor for Rights 4 Vapers. “Is this single set of data enough to justify the hasty introduction of more draconian regulatory measures that could simultaneously reduce the appeal of these products to adult smokers that rely on vaping to reduce or quit smoking?”

What’s more concerning is that the same report shows that teen cigarette smoking in the past 30 days increased 45%. The use of alcohol in the past 12 months by teens actually decreased by 3%, but cannabis use went up by 19%.

The important question then is which of these numbers should we be worried about? According to the study, 60% of youth used alcohol and 27% used cannabis in the past 12 months, 16% smoked cigarettes in the past 30 days, and 15% vaped.

If what we hope is that teens who already smoke might be tempted to switch to vaping, then the report contains some good news. Among current teen smokers, 44% are also vaping. Even “experimental smokers” are also vaping (29%). Are they on their way to fully switching from cigarettes to vaping (likely, and a good thing), or from dual-use to just smoking (unlikely, and a bad thing)?

And what about teens who have never smoked? Are they being lured into a lifetime of addiction by vaping? Here the news is good from a public health perspective.

It turns out teens are not being lured into a lifetime of addiction by vaping – they are not very keen on vaping or smoking, according to the data in the study published in the BMJ. Most of the teens surveyed have never vaped, and among those who have tried it (20%), just 3% have vaped in the past week, and only 0.6% vaped on more than 15 of the last 30 days. That’s just 14 teens out of the 2,441 surveyed.

Cigarette smoking and drinking carry far higher health risks than vaping or cannabis. If, as health authorities all agree, vaping is safer—not ‘safe’ but safer—than smoking cigarettes, then, perhaps, we should think clearly about what we hope to accomplish by battling teen vaping through introducing provincial regulations that go even further than regulations for smoking or drinking.

About Rights 4 Vapers

Rights 4 Vapers is an organization of vaping advocates dedicated to the advancement of Canadian-based research on vaping. Dr.Chris Lalonde is an academic advisor.

For further information: Media inquiries: Info@rights4vapers.comRead release here.

Rights 4 Vapers – June 21, 2019.

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