Calgary students, doctors push federal government for change to e-cigarette laws

A group of students and doctors are hoping to do more to stop people from smoking, and they’re targeting e-cigarettes and vaping.

SAAVE (Stop Addicting Adolescents to Vaping and E-Cigarettes) is a group of students and doctors created to petition the government to strengthen its regulations by banning all advertising as well as flavoured e-cigarette juice. They’re also asking that e-cigarette sales only be permitted from behind pharmacy counters.

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According to Dr. Eddy Lang with the Canadian Taskforce for Preventative Healthcare, teen use of e-cigarettes is skyrocketing.

“The use of e-cigarettes is rising exponentially,” he said. “Eighty per cent rise just in the last several months.

“We’re creating a new generation of youth and adolescents that have an addiction to nicotine products.”

It’s illegal for minors to buy and smoke e-cigarettes, but Health Canada reported in 2017 that nearly one-quarter of all teenagers in Canada have tried it. Now, officials believe, the situation is much worse.

“People skip class to vape,” said Grade 10 student Sophie Verbake. “People vape while they’re driving, even to go bed vaping. It’s huge, everyone does it.”

“We know that adolescents can make their own decisions but we also all know they don’t make the wisest choices all the time,” said Zoe Hahn, a member of SAAVE.

“We need to put more focus on the companies and government on protecting them.”

The regulation of e-cigarettes falls to Health Canada, which announced last week it was looking at new measures of restricting ads and limiting their visibility to youth.

It’s also taking a look at whether flavours of e-cigarette juice should be sold in the country.

“Some of these kids who presumably are just experimenting — which is a normal part of youth — have now been trapped and are locked into a very serious addiction,” Lang said.

“I don’t think kids realize how addictive it is and how damaging it is.”

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