At 10am today a coalition of public health advocates are meeting on Parliament Hill to put pressure on Health Canada to address youth vaping. This is in the wake of news that an Ontario teen has been hospitalized in the first reported case of vaping-related illness to hit Canada, and the recent announcement from Ottawa’s Chief Medical Officer and Ottawa Public Health to ban flavoured nicotine vape products. All based on a web of misinformation and confusion that could not only spell the end of the legitimate national industry, but also deny adult smokers looking for a less harmful alternative to smoking.
“The announcement of Dr. Etches and Ottawa Public Health about the safety of nicotine vaping products is not rooted in evidence,” said Maria Papaioannoy-Duic. “Before we jump to conclusions and start writing sweeping and damaging policies, we need to look at what is really going on.”
While Health Canada legalized vaping products as consumer products in 2018 and acknowledged them to be less harmful than cigarettes, it’s difficult to ignore the alarming American headlines highlighting nearly 380 reported cases of vaping illnesses and this week, a young Canadian was diagnosed with similar symptoms.
The American Center for Disease Control and the Food and Drug Administration investigations are analyzing nicotine and CBD/THC vaping liquid samples for cutting agents/diluents and other additives, pesticides, opioids, poisons, heavy metals and toxins. Preliminary findings link most cases to cannabis contamination and/or exposure to another chemicals, possibly vitamin E acetate which is an oil used to deliver THC and can be found in skin creams or dietary supplements. It has not been tested for inhalation.
The FDA has since issued the following public statement: “We encourage consumers to help protect themselves and avoid buying vaping products of any kind on the street, and to refrain from using THC oil or modifying/adding any substances to products purchased in stores.”
In legalizing vaping products, Health Canada had the foresight to prevent the inclusion of vitamins – like vitamin E in vaping ingredients.
“These individuals weren’t vaping as a means to quit smoking. They were getting high,” said Papaioannoy-Duic. “It’s like banning insulin to curb heroin overdoses because they’re both delivered by syringe. While the delivery method is the same, it’s the contents of the syringe that need to be examined and flavoured nicotine vaping liquids simply don’t appear to be the issue” said Papaioannoy-Duic.
For more than 10 years, flavoured vape products have been on the Canadian market and are credited with helping thousands of adult smokers give up harmful tobacco consumption without a single vape-related illness or death reported.
It’s irresponsible and naïve for governments to believe that by eliminating flavoured vape products they would prevent the actions for those looking to consume illicit THC products using the same delivery method.