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Letter: We can protect youth from harmful effects of vaping, Port Moody–Coquitlam MP says

With one in five teens now reporting having tried vaping, the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada has shared serious public health concerns, writes Bonita Zarrillo.

The Editor,

Vaping amongst teens is on the rise in Canada and recent research suggests that vaping is particularly harmful to young people whose bodies are still developing.

In the past five years the number of Canadian students who have tried vaping has doubled and that is not good for their long-term health.

While e-cigarettes were initially marketed as a safer alternative to smoking traditional cigarettes, there was little thought about how it might introduce a new generation of teens to nicotine addiction.

With one in five teens now reporting having tried vaping, the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada shared with me the serious public health concerns.

Those concerns include addiction, harm to brain development and increase in the risk of heart and lung disease. Overall preventing youth from starting to vape is now critical to protecting their long-term health and well-being.

While vaping products do not contain tobacco, they still contain nicotine which is highly addictive.

This is a growing concern for our youth because after 50 years of successful, anti-smoking initiatives, that helped reduce the rates of smokers, vape appears to be reversing the trend in young people.

While the Canadian government has already taken steps to regulate e-cigarettes and vaping products, more needs to be done.

For example, not enough has been done to regulate menthol flavours that appeal to young people. The Canadian Lung Association warns that the use of menthol-flavoured vaping products by young people is concerning because it can mask the harsh taste of nicotine and make it easier to start and continue using these products.

A study published in the journal Nicotine & Tobacco Research found that youth aged 16–19 who used menthol-flavoured e-cigarettes were more likely to become daily e-cigarette users and to report symptoms of nicotine dependence than those who used non-menthol-flavoured e-cigarettes.

The federal government recognized the negative impacts of menthol in tobacco and banned the sale of menthol cigarettes many years ago, but menthol-flavoured vaping products are still available.

As we celebrate Youth Week this week, let’s consider the well-being of youth and encourage the federal government to take the actions needed to protect the next generation of Canadians from nicotine addiction and get serious about legislating all flavours of vape that appeal to teens.

- Bonita Zarrillo, MP for Port Moody–Coquitlam

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