Amid calls from Kamloops-South Thompson B.C. Liberal MLA Todd Stone for action on teen vaping, the province’s health minister said plans are being formulated.
“The government of British Columbia will be taking steps to address teen vaping,” Health Minister Adrian Dix said during a visit to Royal Inland Hospital on Tuesday.
“As you know, the current regulatory system that deals with vaping, both in Canada and in British Columbia, is insufficient.”
He said a plan will be released in the next few weeks dealing with regulatory change, noting there are far more vendors of vaping products in B.C., compared to those dealing in tobacco products.
“That, to me, seems to be an unreasonable situation,” Dix said. “It was thought, originally, that licences wouldn’t be required for vaping products, but obviously our understanding has changed and we need to take some steps on that.”
This past weekend, Health Canada issued a warning to users of vaping products to monitor themselves for symptoms of pulmonary illness following the first confirmed case in Canada of severe pulmonary illness related to vaping products.
On Friday, Sept. 27, the province of Quebec notified the Public Health Agency of Canada about the medical case. The confirmed case comes after a possible case still under investigation in the London, Ont., area and a number of deaths reportedly linked to the use of vaping products in the United States.
Dix said the provincial government is hoping the federal government takes nationwide action on regulating or banning flavoured vaping products, but added Victoria will take steps to address the issue if Ottawa does not act.
Former health minister Terry Lake of the B.C. Liberal government took the same stance with respect to flavoured tobacco products, telling KTW in 2014 that the provincial government preferred a federal approach to the issue.
Dix said public education is also an important component of addressing the vaping issue.
“It’s an obvious statement, but if you’re a lifetime smoker, vaping may be harm-reduction, but if you’re not, then it’s principally harm,” he said.
Dix was asked why B.C. cannot enact a ban on flavoured vaping products when Washington state is poised to do so as of Oct. 9 via Gov. Jay Inslee’s executive order.
Dix said laws and regulations in Washington state differ from those in B.C. and Canada, noting the issue extends beyond flavouring and involves nicotine, access to vaping products by minors and the sale of vaping products.