Vapes need same restrictions as tobacco, medical groups tell federal parties

There’s an urgent need for vaping products to be given the same advertising and flavour restrictions as tobacco, a group of health organizations in Canada said in calling for immediate political action.

The appeal came Thursday at a news conference in Ottawa from representatives of:

  • Action on Smoking and Health.
  • Canadian Cancer Society.
  • Canadian Medical Association.
  • Canadian Lung Association.
  • Coalition québécoise pour le contrôle du tabac.
  • Heart & Stroke.
  • Ontario Campaign for Action on Tobacco.
  • Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada.

“We’ve just unleashed a torrent of addiction amongst young people in Canada through our thoughtless disregard of the need for effective regulation of these products,” Dr. Andrew Pipe, Heart & Stroke board chair and a smoking cessation physician in Ottawa, said in an interview. “Now we’re playing catch-up in Canada, and we’re in an almost unforgivable situation.”

On Wednesday, health officials in London, Ont., announced what’s believed to be the first case in Canada of a respiratory illness linked to vaping. The high-school-age individual used e-cigarettes daily, was initially on life-support and is now recovering at home.

In the U.S., there have been hundreds of cases of respiratory illnesses linked to vaping and at least seven deaths. Many of the deaths have been linked to vaping cannabis.

No single device, ingredient, additive or pathway to illness has been identified in the U.S. investigation.

During the current Canadian election campaign, the health groups involved in Thursday’s news conference called on all parties to commit, within 60 days should they form government, to stop promotions for vaping products on television, radio, billboards, public transit hubs, convenience stores, social media, newspapers and other mainstream media.

The groups said manufacturers are allowed to entice youth and non-smokers with attractive flavours, give the products away, and have no obligations for nicotine limits or health warnings on packages as in this case for tobacco.

In Ontario, advertising of e-cigarettes is currently permitted in convenience stores and gas stations.

“Once we understand what the concern is, then will look at any steps necessary in order to protect the health of our young people,” Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott said Thursday.

Keep on top of symptoms, Health Canada urges

The Canadian Vaping Association said it wants federal, provincial and territorial governments to immediately ban the sale of nicotine e-liquid vape products and all visible marketing outside of adult access environments.

“They must be removed from all convenience stores, gas stations or any retail location that is not age restricted,” the association said in a statement.

Health Canada has been urging people who vape to watch for symptoms such as coughing, shortness of breath, fatigue, diarrhea, vomiting and chest pain. It has also said health-care professionals should ask patients about their use of e-cigarette products if they have respiratory symptoms.

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