By Lyonel Doherty
School District 53 is sending a letter to B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix urging action to eliminate youth vaping.
At Wednesday’s regular board meeting, trustees agreed to press the minister to address this growing health problem.
Vaping is the act of inhaling and exhaling a vapour produced by a device, such as an electronic cigarette. This device heats a liquid into a vapour, which looks like cigarette smoke.
Local school trustees were prodded partly by a request from Kamloops-South Thompson MLA Todd Stone, who wants school districts to demand government action.
He noted that youth vaping rates are rising significantly, citing an article in the British Medical Journal that indicates vaping among Canadian youth age 16 to 19 is up nearly 75 per cent over 2018.
“Almost daily, we’re hearing stories about people getting sick, and in some cases, even dying as a result of vaping,” Stone said.
The MLA stated there appears to be an indisputable link between vaping and acute health impacts.
“Our kids are being drawn in and hooked to this unhealthy practice as a direct result of the efforts vape companies have made to deliberately target youth with kid-friendly e-cigarette flavours like fruit medley, gummy bear and mango.”
Stone introduced a private member’s bill banning flavoured vaping products and implementing tighter retail controls on the sale of these products.
Health Canada has issued an advisory to individuals who vape to monitor themselves for symptoms of pulmonary illness, such as cough, shortness of breath and chest pain.
In fact, an Ontario teenager was put on life support in what public health officials said was likely the first reported case of illness linked to vaping.
In September, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported there were 380 confirmed and probable cases of lung disease associated with vaping and the use of e-cigarettes. Six deaths in the United States this year have been linked to vaping.
In a letter to Dix, School District 53 chair Rob Zandee said youth vaping rates are surging among youth in B.C. In fact, it is estimated that 30 per cent of B.C.’s Grade 10 to 12 teens are regular users of vaping devices, he pointed out.
“The link between vaping and several harmful health impacts are evident now, and there is no doubt that there will be serious long-term health implications connected to this practice,” he said.
Zandee stated that more children are getting drawn into the unhealthy habit due to the efforts of vape companies that target kids with different flavours and hi-tech marketing.
Zandee urged the minister to take immediate action by implementing more awareness and prevention programs.
“The health and safety of our youth is of paramount importance and the time for action is now.”
In this district, students are not permitted to have vape products on school property.
Taylor, a 15-year-old South Okanagan girl, said she started vaping for fun and to look “cool.”
While some people are addicted to the nicotine, others just like the flavours in the juice, she noted.
“But most kids vape for the nicotine; to get sort of a high for a short period.”
Taylor acknowledged that she knows what’s in the vape juice (vegetable glycerine and propylene glycol).
“It’s the nicotine that makes people’s lungs bad; the concentrates of nicotine that you can put in vape juice is very high.”
The girl, who started vaping at age 13, said she’s not too concerned about the health impacts of vaping because she doesn’t do it as often anymore.