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N.B. health minister says legislation pending, as opposition calls for clamp down on youth vaping

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WATCH ABOVE: Pressure is mounting on the New Brunswick government to introduce measures to crack down on youth vaping. Silas Brown reports – May 16, 2021

New Brunswick’s health minister says further legislation to combat youth vaping is on the way, as the opposition calls for more to be done.

Health Minster Dorothy Shephard tabled legislation this week that would create a registry of businesses selling vaping products, as part of the effort to crack down on the use of e-cigarettes by minors. Opposition parties have said the bill won’t actually address the problem of youth vaping, but Shephard says more is on the way.

“This is only the first bill that’s being brought forward and this is about regulation and licensing, so there is more to come,” Shephard said on Friday.

When asked if further legislation could impose bans on flavoured vape juices and raise the required age to purchase vaping products, Shephard was direct.

“Damn straight,” she said.

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Read more: New Brunswick reacts to federally-proposed vaping ad restrictions to deter youth

Liberal health critic Jean-Claude D’Amours introduced legislation in November that would ban flavoured vape juice, but the bill has sat on the order paper untouched for months. He says he wants to see the issue addressed by the government.

“If you look at many organizations, what they are looking for is really to eliminate the flavours,” D’Amours said on Thursday.

Nova Scotia recently banned the sale of flavoured vaping products. Prince Edward Island has gone a step further, increasing the legal age for purchasing any tobacco or vaping product to 21.

Green MLA Megan Mitton wants to see New Brunswick follow suit.

“These are the types of policies that are actually important to target youth vaping,” Mitton said.

The Canadian Cancer Society (CCS) is also calling for more serious actions to be taken to curb youth vaping.

In the 2020-21 Youth and Young Adult Vaping Survey, which was led by Dr. Mohammed Al-Hamdani of the Lung Association of Nova Scotia, found that 92 per cent of youth who vape use flavoured juices and 48 per cent would stop vaping if flavours were no longer available.

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Read more: Nova Scotia first to ban flavoured e-cigarettes and juices

The 2018-2019 survey of youth smoking, alcohol and drug habits conducted by the federal government found that 41 per cent of New Brunswick youth had tried vaping, compared to a national average of 34 per cent. The survey also found that 28 per cent had used a vaping product in the last 30 days, compared to 20 per cent nationally.

“Effective action on vaping must include key policy measures such as removing flavours from e-cigarettes, raising the minimum age for e-cigarettes and tobacco to 21, restricting e-cigarette sales to adult-only locations and implementing a tax on e-cigarettes, among others,” says a release from CCS.

Shephard did not say when additional legislation to combat youth vaping would be tabled.

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