The Quebec government is pledging new regulations aimed at addressing vaping after at least three confirmed cases of severe lung illness have occurred in the province.
Health Minister Danielle McCann announced Monday she will put in place a plan to fight smoking and vaping by next spring.
Dr. Horacio Arruda, head of the province’s public health department, will lead the group tasked with proposing stricter restrictions. The group is expected to take a closer look at the accessibility of vaping products.
“It’s a very serious situation that is going on in the United States and probably everywhere in Canada,” he told Global News.
The task force, which is comprised of members from the Ministry of Health and the public health agency, will also seek feedback from various organizations, including the Canadian Cancer Society.
“This special intervention group will help us to determine the best measures to implement in a way that is well adapted to the current reality while effectively consolidating the fight against smoking,” said McCann in a statement.
In November, public health officials declared Quebec’s third confirmed case of severe pulmonary disease in the Outaouais region. Two Montrealers have also fallen ill after using legal nicotine vaping products.
As the number of cases continues to grow in Canada, Arruda advises young people and pregnant women to refrain from vaping.
“Vaping is a new thing,” he said. “We don’t know what the effects are long-term.”
Authorities also say people who choose to vape must monitor themselves for symptoms of lung disease, including coughing, shortness of breath and chest pain. If they have symptoms, they should immediately consult a doctor.
The group is expected to submit its recommendations to the health ministry by April 2020.
— With files from Global News’ Raquel Fletcher and the Canadian Press