Chatham-Kent's Board of Health will review a recommendation to demand Health Canada to further regulate vaping products.
Chatham-Kent’s board of health will review a recommendation to demand Health Canada to further regulate vaping products.
Dr. David Colby, the area’s chief medical officer of health, said medical scientists still have not determined what exactly is causing the severe pulmonary disease linked to vaping, which has caused seven deaths in the U.S. and more than 200 possible cases, including one in London, Ont.
“These are all young people that are having this problem and it’s certainly enough to raise some concern,” he said.
Colby said Chatham-Kent public health needs to continue enforcing existing measures, including issuing fines to people who vape where it is not permitted.
However, he said there is an “urgent need to regulate the composition of commercially available vaping solutions.”
“That is Health Canada that is responsible for those kinds of regulatory oversights,” Colby said. “They’re crossing the borders with absolute impunity because they’re not illegal here, no matter what is in them or what happens.”
Colby recommended the board take some action to ask Health Canada to add more oversight on this issue.
The board instead decided to direct public health officials to present a recommendation at the next board meeting and submit it to the federal government following the Oct. 21 election.
The discussion on severe pulmonary disease followed a presentation on youth vaping by youth engagement co-ordinator Jeff Moco.
Moco said, as of June, the health unit had issued 24 tickets for vaping on school properties this year. He said while vape products were originally marketed as a way to quit smoking, they are mainly used by people under 25.
In the 10 years since Moco and tobacco enforcement officer Nik Davidovic began working together on the smoking file, this is the first time it has reached the elementary level, said Moco.
He also noted youth tobacco use rates in Canada went up for the first time “in a long time” in 2017-18.
Colby said many aspects of the vaping issue have been puzzling and the information seems to change hourly.
“The secondary explosion in youth smoking, which is extremely distressing to me, is not being seen in the United Kingdom, where vaping has been embraced by the public health community to stop smoking,” he said.
“I’m extremely concerned because there is nothing that is so easily addressed that is so harmful to the public as tobacco smoking. We’ve made great strides in having this knocked back.”
Colby said it is also important to note the difference between e-cigarettes, which tend to contain a liquid solution, and heat – not burn – devices, which are used to inhale cannabis or tobacco and can remove some carcinogens.