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B.C. government moves to tax and restrict vaping products to protect youth

Health Minister Adrian Dix said youth vaping rates are increasing

November 14, 2019  The Canadian Press

VICTORIA—The British Columbia government introduced a 10-point plan Thursday to protect youth from health risks of vaping, including reducing nicotine content in vapour pods, increasing taxes on vaping products and supporting youth-led anti-vaping campaigns.

Health Minister Adrian Dix said youth vaping rates are increasing, putting young people at risk of serious illness, prompting the government to introduce the most comprehensive vaping plan in Canada.

“In a short number of years, vaping has shifted from being a smoking cessation tool for adults to an addictions trap for our youth,” he said during a news conference.

Dix cited data from a British Medical Journal report that youth vaping rates have increased 74% between 2017 and 2018.

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Vaping-associated illness cases have been reported across Canada, with three suspected cases in B.C., said Dix.

He said the government will introduce new regulations that take effect in the spring of 2020 that restrict the amount of nicotine in vapour pods, require health warnings on vapour products and prevent advertising of vapour products in areas where youth spend time, including bus shelters and community parks.

Finance Minister Carole James said the government will introduce legislation this month that boosts the provincial sales tax on vaping products from seven per cent to 20%.

“Yes, it is a big tax jump and one that really signifies the urgency of this problem. We all know that youth are particularly price sensitive, and so when you make a product more expensive and harder to access, youth will decline,” James said.

Education Minister Rob Fleming said the plan includes youth-led campaigns in schools to help young people steer away from vaping.

“It will unleash the power of young people talking to young people, youth to youth, peer to peer,” he said. “We will be working with students to de-normalize vaping.”

The B.C. School Trustees Association has asked the government for help, saying many districts in B.C. are spending too much time monitoring and addressing the problem of vaping in schools.

Health Canada has issued a warning to people who vape to monitor themselves for symptoms of vaping-related pulmonary illness following hundreds of such cases in the United States and a few in Canada.

Dr. Meena Dewar, Vancouver Coastal medical health officer, said the government campaign is a positive step towards fighting increases in vaping health and addictions issues for youth. She said nicotine content in vaping products has increased and those products contribute to a “ chemical cocktail.”

“Recent data indicate that one in five youth, grades 7 to 12, use vaping products or have used vaping products in the previous 30 days,” she said.


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