The Ford government says it is “actively looking” to find solutions to rising health concerns around vaping products.
In a statement to Global News, Travis Kann, a spokesperson for Health Minister Christine Elliott said, “Minister Elliott is increasingly concerned about the prevalence and health consequences of youth vaping.”
The news comes just a few days after a sixth vaping-related death was reported by officials in the U.S. and as public health officials in that country investigate 450 cases of vaping-related lung illness across 33 states and one U.S. territory.
On Wednesday, the Trump administration announced the U.S. government was looking at a potential ban on all e-flavoured cigarettes amid the rising concerns.
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As of early this week, Health Canada has not reported any similar cases but is advising Canadians who vape to be aware of symptoms like coughing, shortness of breath and chest pain, which it says could be an indication of illness.
It is unclear exactly what the Ford government could change with regards to vaping laws in Ontario, though, in the statement provided to Global News, the health minister’s office highlighted current laws that allow some businesses to advertise vaping products.
“The ministry is actively looking to partner with leading experts through informal roundtables to better understand these challenges and begin (to) identify practical solutions that would meaningfully improve health outcomes,” Kann said.
“Currently, under the Smoke-Free Ontario Act, non-specialty stores (such as convenience stores or gas bars) can promote, but not display, vapour products, as long as the promotion complies with the Tobacco and Vaping Products Act.”
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Under current regulations, vaping ads are not allowed to appeal to youth through the promotion of certain flavours, testimonials or giveaways, among other restrictions.
Despite the regulations, a recent Health Canada survey showed nearly one in four Canadian teens has tried vaping.
Many of the vaping-related illnesses reported involved products that contain vitamin E acetate, an oil derived from vitamin E that can be dangerous if inhaled. Some reported illnesses have also been linked to illegal cannabis products, according to U.S. health officials.
The vaping industry, meanwhile, has blamed the illnesses on a surge in black-market products.
— With files from Reuters