Kamloops MLA says no delay needed to start anti-vape programs in high schools | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Kamloops MLA says no delay needed to start anti-vape programs in high schools

MLA Todd Stone wants to see stricter regulation on vape sales as well as preventative measures taken in high schools.
September 19, 2019 - 6:30 PM

KAMLOOPS - Kamloops South-Thompson MLA Todd Stone has been advocating for a change of policy around the sale of vapes, and introduced a private member's bill five months ago that he says has seen no advancement. After news of the first Canadian case of vaping-related illness, he wrote an open letter demanding action.

He challenged Premier John Horgan and Minister of Health Adrian Dix over the increase of young people who vape. He suggested the number of young people vaping has grown significantly. In addition, a teen from London, Ontario, has been confirmed as the first confirmed Canadian case of a vaping related illness, though reasons for that illness are still not confirmed. Stone says the lack of information around vaping will likely lead to many negative health effects and hopes the provincial government acts quickly to protect youth.

Although Stone says passing legislation could be a lengthy process, he says that the Ministry of Health could implement preventative programs in schools without waiting for a government go-ahead.

“We’re not talking about tens of millions of dollars, for several hundred thousand in each school district you could roll out a comprehensive awareness, prevention, and support program that would get the job done,” Stone says. “That doesn't require passing any laws, that doesn’t require any regulation, and that doesn't require any support from the federal government. That's a decision that the provincial government could make right now.”

Stone says he has two daughters in high school and has heard first-hand the effects of vaping addiction from his daughter’s friends. He says it is ‘heart-breaking’ and notes there is a multitude of in-school programs available to help curb teen vaping. He references Preventure, a pilot program in Vernon where youth are screened for four high-risk personality traits. They are placed under the categories of impulsiveness, anxiety sensitivity, sensation-seeking and hopelessness. The students are then offered two 90-minute workshops to help better understand how they may be affected by those traits and how to make healthy decisions. Stone says Preventure is one of many programs that could be used throughout B.C. schools.

Stone put forth the private member's bill in April outlining his suggestions for vape regulations and repercussions for illicit sales. He believes a multi-tiered approach is necessary to keep youth from vaping.

“There is no silver bullet here, but it’s why I think we need a comprehensive approach that includes a series of actions, like banning flavoured vape juice… tougher retail controls, tougher enforcements and penalities, better online retail restrictions and this education program,” Stone says.

According to Stone, the reason why people under the age of 19 are able to use these products is because of a lack of regulations in stores, which he believes could be combatted by more enforcement check-ins, higher penalties for unlawful sales, and restricting any vape-related marketing and advertisements.

He notes there are ways in which high-school students are getting their hands on vapes that may prove to be a tougher issue to solve.

“Older siblings that are over the age of 19 in many cases are purchasing these products and then providing them to their younger siblings, who are then taking them into schools and reselling them,” Stone says. “This is happening and teachers, principals, and school district officials know this is happening, but no one really knows how to combat it.”

Stone believes a multi-faceted approach similar to an anti-smoking campaign could lead to a decrease in vape usage among teens.

“We did such a great job as a society for a decade and a half driving down smoking rates, especially youth smoking rates,” Stone says. “And just in the last 24 months, we've seen this whole vaping practice come in out of nowhere, and it’s sucking in and hooking young people in big numbers.”

Stone notes that his proposed bill could be considered once the federal election is over on Oct. 7. He hopes that a discussion will lead to a change in provincial legislature as quickly as possible.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Jenna Wheeler or call (250) 819-6089 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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