Calling for a comprehensive tobacco and e-cigarette strategy

The Board of Health for Public Health Sudbury & Districts is calling on the provincial government to adopt an expert-informed comprehensive tobacco and e-cigarette strategy to address flavoured e-juice, online sales to minors, treatment programs for youth cessation, and public education.

“We support the Ontario government’s decision to ban the promotion of vapour products in corner stores and gas stations, and we see this is an important first step in reducing exposure and accessibility to vapour products,” said René Lapierre, Board of Health Chair for Public Health Sudbury & Districts. “A comprehensive strategy would go much further to protect the health of our communities,” said Lapierre.

The rapid proliferation of e-cigarette use is fuelling mass recruitment of new consumers to an established industry, which profits from nicotine addiction. Many e-cigarette users are unaware of the potential harms of regular or occasional use, and there is evidence that e-cigarette use increases youth uptake of tobacco.

“We need a provincial strategy that firmly addresses vaping and tobacco use as issues that go hand in hand,” said Dr. Penny Sutcliffe, Sudbury & Districts Medical Officer of Health and Chief Executive Officer. “Many e-cigarette users have never smoked tobacco, they are not using the product to quit smoking, and they are putting their health at risk,” said Dr. Sutcliffe.

Nicotine is a powerfully addictive chemical, and its use is not without risks. The evidence of e-cigarettes’ effectiveness in quitting smoking pales in comparison with proven methods of cessation that can be used in combination, like nicotine replacement therapy, medication, and counselling.

Quick facts:

  • 23% of Canadian youth (15–19) and 29% of young adults (20–24) reported having tried an e-cigarette (2017). In 2018, the youth number increased by 74%. There is no reason to expect a different trend for 2019.
  • Forty-four (44) Ontarians die every day of tobacco-related causes or 16 000 deaths every year.
  • Nearly one in five Ontarians smoke. There are 1.8 million daily smokers in Ontario, and over 1 million Ontarians try to quit each year. Quitting is a long frustrating journey with many false starts.
  • Tobacco costs Ontario nearly $7 billion annually ($2.7 billion direct health care, $4.2 billion indirect costs).

The message is clear—If you don’t smoke, don’t vape. If you do smoke, consider quitting with the help of proven methods (nicotine replacement therapy, medication, one-on-one support, etc.). If all else fails, and with medical advice, people who are struggling to quit could carefully consider trying e-cigarettes: they may be safer than cigarettes, which kill half of all their long-term users. And finally, if you do vape, don’t also smoke.

The Board of Health considered and approved the motion at its meeting on November 21, 2019. Additional information about the motion and vaping is available online at phsd.ca or by calling Public Health Sudbury & Districts at 705.522.9200 (toll-free 1.866-522.9200).

This item was last modified on December 5, 2019