The Saskatchewan government is considering the possibility of introducing a bill to address youth smoking, according to provincial health minister Jim Reiter.
The statement comes after the Canadian Cancer Society (CSC) urged the province on Thursday to put in place measures to tackle the problem. The CCS critique of the followed the publication of a University of Waterloo study published in the British Medical Journal, which reveals a 74% increase in vaping among young Canadians. between 2017 and 2018.
In this regard, Jim Reiter expressed concern about the data in the study. He also admitted to having recently met with members of the CCS and the Saskatchewan Lung Association.
According to the latter, Saskatchewan is the province that spends the lowest amount per capita on tobacco control, or about 35 cents per person. For comparison, the national average would be $1.04.
Shocking data, says the CCS
The situation is particularly alarming in Saskatchewan, where the smoking rate of 18- to 34-year-olds was the highest among Canadian provinces in 2017, according to data from Statistics Canada. Indeed, it was 25% against a national average of 19.2%.
For example, CCS asking the province to put in place a bill that would increase the age of 21 to purchase vaping and tobacco products, as well as limit advertising of these products.
“We have a big problem in the hands. We have a plan that would cost virtually nothing to the provincial government. It only lacks the political will to act,” says the health policy analyst at the CCS, Donna Pasiechnik.
The opposition also wants a bill
Saskatchewan New Democrat Leader (NDP) Ryan Meili also urged the government to find ways to reduce youth smoking. It’s time to treat vaping as we treat cigarettes , he says.
NDP Member of Parliament and Health Critic Vicki Mowat sent a letter to Jim Reiter on Thursday in which the opposition made several requests. For example, the NDP wants the provincial government to ban vaping in places where smoking is already banned, as well as introducing a flavored tobacco law.
Saskatchewan and Alberta are the only two provinces in Canada that have not regulated vaping.