Editorial: Officials too slow to react to youth vaping epidemic

We can’t help but think it’s a little like closing the barn door after the horse has bolted, though.

The province has finally announced a bunch of new regulations to try to curb the epidemic of youth taking up e-cigarettes and vaping.

These are good initiatives and include higher taxes on the products, restricting access, limits on nicotine content and rules about packaging, sales and advertising to make them less appealing to young people.

We can’t help but think it’s a little like closing the barn door after the horse has bolted, though.

Why weren’t these regulations on what is really a new form of smoking brought in years ago when it first started to become apparent this was a crisis in waiting? Did we really have to wait until people were diagnosed with serious vaping-related respiratory illnesses?

The Citizen has been writing about the concerns around vaping and how it was being taken up by impressionable teens and youth (and even some kids in elementary school) for years. From day one it seemed obvious that e-cigarette popularity was spreading like wildfire, with very little information about its health and safety, among this vulnerable group who were mostly just looking for the newest fad. The parallel to smoking conventional cigarettes in generations past was so obvious it was like a flashing neon sign.

E-cigarettes were sold to health officials as a way for smokers to wean themselves off of conventional cigarettes, which contain acknowledged harmful chemicals. And they have been useful to some in doing this. What officials don’t seem to have foreseen was that a whole new generation who have often never smoked conventional tobacco products would become a vast new market to addict.

Regulations were too slow to come. It’s amazing how health and political officials seem to have been caught back on their heels on this issue, when it seemed entirely predictable from very early on. So while we’re all for trying to curb the now-existing problem, we also think that some questions should be asked about how slow officials have been to react and bring in regulations.

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