Sudbury board pushes for tobacco and e-cigarette strategy

Turning to vaping to quit tobacco is not the best approach, health officials warn

Vapes, also known as e-cigarettes, were created with the intention of helping people stop smoking. They contain smaller amounts of nicotine than a regular cigarette to help wean the user off of it. Vaping has become popular amongst youth, unfortunately causing addiction to nicotine in the process. FILE PHOTO Jim Wells / Jim Wells/Postmedia

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The provincial government needs to get serious about smoking and vaping, especially among kids, Sudbury’s health unit board says.

In fact, the board of health for Public Health Sudbury and Districts is calling on the Ford government to adopt what it calls an expert-informed comprehensive tobacco and e-cigarette strategy to address flavoured e-juice, online sales to minors, treatment programs for youth cessation and public education.

“We support the Ontario government’s decision to ban the promotion of vapour products in corner stores and gas stations, and we see this is an important first step in reducing exposure and accessibility to vapour products,” Ward 6 Coun. René Lapierre, chair of the board, said in a release. “A comprehensive strategy would go much further to protect the health of our communities.”

The rapid proliferation of e-cigarette use is fuelling mass recruitment of new consumers to an established industry, which profits from nicotine addiction, the health unit said. Many e-cigarette users are unaware of the potential harms of regular or occasional use, and there is evidence that e-cigarette use increases youth uptake of tobacco.

“We need a provincial strategy that firmly addresses vaping and tobacco use as issues that go hand-in-hand,” Dr. Penny Sutcliffe, the medical officer of health and CEO of Public Health Sudbury and Districts, said. “Many e-cigarette users have never smoked tobacco; they are not using the product to quit smoking and they are putting their health at risk.”

Nicotine is a powerfully addictive chemical and its use is not without risks, health officials say. The evidence regarding e-cigarettes’ effectiveness in quitting smoking pales in comparison with proven methods of cessation that can be used together, including nicotine replacement therapy, medication and counselling.

The message is clear: if you don’t smoke, don’t vape. If you do smoke, consider quitting with the help of proven methods (nicotine replacement therapy, medication, one-on-one support, etc.), the health unit said.

If all else fails, people who are struggling to quit could consider trying e-cigarettes, but seek medical advice first. They may be safer than cigarettes, which kill half of all their long-term users. And finally, if you do vape, don’t also smoke, Public Health Sudbury and Districts said.

The board of health considered and approved the motion at its meeting on Nov. 21. Additional information about the motion and vaping are available online at phsd.ca or by calling Public Health Sudbury and Districts at 705-522-9200 (toll-free: 1-866-522-9200).

 

sud.editorial@sunmedia.ca

@SudburyStar

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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