News / Edmonton

Edmonton doc gives thumbs up to vaping legislation

New federal rules will restrict sales to minors, stamp out candy flavours.

File / AP

An Edmonton doctor is applauding new federal e-cigarette legislation.

Dr. Michael Khoury, who worked on a study about teen vaping, said the government’s Tobacco and Vaping Products Act announced Tuesday takes a “very balanced” approach to regulating e-cigarettes.

The legislation would rename the Tobacco Act but place vaping products – which are generally marketed as tools to help smokers quit cigarettes – in a separate class.

New rules would regulate the manufacturing, sale, labelling, packaging and promotion of the products and restrict sales to youth – as well as restricting certain flavours that appeal to youth.

“It’s important to have these devices accessible to the people where it might serve a public health good, but also restrict the advertisement and sale of the devices to people that it may serve as a gateway toward cigarette use,” Khoury said.

Khoury has been pushing for the prohibition of e-cigarette sales to minors for months, after a study he worked on in Ontario showed some teens are drawn to the devices because they see them as “cool” and “fun.”

E-cigarette use has eclipsed traditional cigarette use among teens, and Khoury worries vaping could “renormalize” the smoking experience. A growing body of shows kids who take up vaping are indeed more likely to turn to cigarettes later. Back in June, one local vape shop owner told Metro that about a third of their customers were not previously cigarette smokers.

Khoury, who works in paediatric cardiology at the Stollery Children’s Hospital, acknowledged e-cigarettes play a legitimate role in harm reduction by helping adults quit tobacco.

He also expects some pushback from industry on the legislation.

He said the argument could be made that sugary flavours increase the incentive for cigarette addicts to switch to vaping.

“If you sell something with a nice flavour that’s appealing, then maybe they’re more likely to use a vaping device or an e-cigarette device over a cigarette,” Khoury said.

“That being said, a lot of the flavours they’re marketing are blatantly appealing to children – things like cotton candy and cola flavours.”

Alberta has no provincial regulations on e-cigarettes, though the province banned menthol cigarettes last year.

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