Survey says Nova Scotian youth are vaping at 'alarming rate'
HALIFAX -- Smoke-Free Nova Scotia is calling on the provincial government to adopt stricter rules around vaping after what it calls alarming findings in a survey of Nova Scotian youth. The group surveyed 670 youth from the ages of 16-24 and found Nova Scotian youth are vaping at alarming rates.
"When half of those who are in grades 10 to 12 are trying this product – we've got an epidemic on our hands,” says Smoke-Free Nova Scotia executive director, Mohammed Al-Hamdani. “We need to deal with it immediately."
Of the 670 youth surveyed, half of them said they vape, and 96 per cent of those that do vape say they use flavoured vape juice.
Fifty per cent of the youth surveyed said they would quit vaping if flavouring was removed from vape juice.
"[For] people using e-cigarettes to quit smoking cigarettes, it's probably not that important to have fun flavours just to get that nicotine,” says university student, Kelsey Vahey. “So yeah, I think that banning flavours would probably discourage middle school and high school kids from starting in the first place."
In October, Nova Scotia's PC opposition called for a province-wide ban on flavoured vaping juice.
"By banning the flavours and discouraging youth from vaping, we're focusing on preventative health care," says Dartmouth East MLA, Tim Halman.
The Liberals say they will follow the lead of the federal government on a flavour ban but are looking at other regulatory measures.
The survey also found the majority of youth saying the rush of nicotine was their biggest reason for vaping.
"66.5 per cent of youth between the ages of 16-18 are using 50ml or higher doses of nicotine,” says Al-Hamdani. “Which is the highest available to them."
And others agree, noting the dosage, rather than the fun flavours, should face more regulation.
"People get more addicted to the nicotine because there's more of it,” says university student, Justin MacDonald. “So maybe restricting that more than restricting the flavour would help as well."
Al-Hamdani says the survey’s findings make it clear that wide-scale changes are needed to reduce the impact of vaping on youth.
"Taxation, flavour bans, capping nicotine levels, better enforcement at the retail level,” says Al-Hamdani of the changes he believes need to be in place. “Also, looking at increasing the minimum age of vaping and smoking to 21.”
Meanwhile, Smoke-Free Nova Scotia will present its survey results to the province's Standing Committee on Health on Tuesday.
Editor's note: A previous version incorrectly stated that 96 per cent of youth use flavoured vape juice. In fact, 96 per cent of the survey respondents who vape use flavoured vape juice. The article has been corrected to reflect this clarification.