It may be illegal for teenagers to buy vapes, but a recent study suggests over a quarter of Canadian high school students have vaped in the past month.
Advocates say a major appeal is the thousands of flavours available, which is why Quebec announced a ban on them on Wednesday. No flavours other than tobacco may be sold in that province.
Anti-smoking advocates, like Hailey Coleman, a tobacco educator at the Manitoba Lung Association, want to see similar measures in Manitoba.
“Vapes in general have been geared towards youth – the sleekness, the colour, the advertising,” says Coleman.
Quebec is also banning vaping products shaped like toys, characters, or “any other form, appearance, or function which may be attractive to minors.”
Advocates say kids who vape get addicted to nicotine, and are more likely to try cigarettes. According to Coleman, peer pressure and the discreteness of vaping are also major factors in why kids seek it out.
“When it smells like peaches, no one really questions you twice.”
Since vaping is still new, its long-term effects are not clear. That lack of knowledge is concerning to educators.
“A kid might actually not even know what’s in it, if they got it from a buddy or whatever,” says Dionne Potapinski, principal of Glenlawn Collegiate. “Lots of that stuff is bought online.”
Flavoured vapes are also banned in PEI, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Nunavut, and the Northwest Territories. Rob Cunningham, a senior policy analyst for the Canadian Cancer Society, wants to see action from the Manitoba government.
“Three years ago, the premier, in a mandate letter to the minister of health, asked that the minister explore measures to reduce youth vaping,” says Cunningham. “But since then, nothing has happened in terms of a tax measure, a legislative measure, or a regulatory measure. That’s of concern.”
Cunningham also wants to see federal laws similar to provincial ones. The federal government drafted a ban on flavours back in 2021, but it has not been adopted.
Global News asked the provincial government if there were any plans to implement similar measures, or other efforts to deter minors. No one answered our questions before deadline.