By Lyonel Doherty
Local school board chair Rob Zandee is heralding the provincial government’s new restrictions on vaping in B.C.
“The board of School District No. 53 is pleased that the government has taken steps to curb vaping among youth,” he said, three hours after Minister of Health Adrian Dix made the announcement on Thursday.
Dix said the province will restrict vapour product access as well as flavours, nicotine content, packaging and advertising. It also intends to increase taxes (from seven to 20 per cent) on these products to protect youth from the risks. This would make B.C. the first province in Canada to introduce a specific tax related to vaping.
Dix said some vaping manufacturers are using flavours and advertising to entice and normalize vaping for youth, exposing them to very high levels of an addictive drug.
But the new laws will restrict the amount of nicotine in vapour pods and liquid to 20 mg/ml. Packaging will also have health warnings. In addition, advertising will be restricted in areas where youth congregate, such as bus shelters and community parks.
And the sale of vapour flavours will only be allowed in age-restricted shops.
The province has also partnered with the BC Lung Association to work with youth to build a vaping prevention toolkit that has been piloted in some schools.
Zandee said he is hoping that the federal government also steps in to enact legislation to protect youth.
He said the advocacy role taken by the school board and the B.C. School Trustees Association has resulted in some concrete actions to reduce harmful vaping among youth.
One mother whose young teenage daughter vapes said she worries about long-term health problems associated with the addiction.
“My worry is that I have known from the beginning that it is not healthy to be ingesting vapour into your lungs.”
The mother said it concerns her that companies are deliberately targeting youth to get them addicted to keep buying their products. But she said it’s great news that the province is bringing in new legislation.