The Canadian Cancer Society (CCS) is calling on the Canadian government to increase vaping and e-cigarette regulations after a new medical study discovered a massive increase in youth vaping across the country last year.

Between August 2017 and August 2018, the study found that vaping among Canadians under 19-years old increased a whopping 74%, up from 8.4% to 14.6% in just one year.

Additionally, regular cigarette smoking increased among teenagers aged 16-19 years old by a dramatic 45% during the same time period, up from 10.7% to 15.5%.

See also: Health Canada releases new packaging requirements for cigarettes

The CCS is growing increasingly worried about the connection between e-cigarette and cigarette smoking, as prior surveys leading up to 2017 had shown a consistent decline in cigarette smoking among youth.

“E-cigarettes are supposed to be for adult smokers who have been unable to quit,” said Rob Cunningham, Senior Policy Analyst at CCS in a release.

“But the results of this new study regarding youth trends are of tremendous concern. Given the progress that has been made to reduce youth smoking, we must avoid a new generation of teenagers becoming addicted to nicotine through vaping products.”

Acting on recommendations

While the international study, Prevalence of vaping and smoking among adolescents in
Canada, England, and the United States, presented some disheartening statistics about youth vaping in Canada, researchers also offered several recommendations for governments to follow, which the BC Health Minister has agreed to endorse.

“As B.C.’s Minister of Health, I strongly agree with the call to action by the Canadian Cancer Society (CCS) to address the increase in youth vaping,” said Adrian Dix in a statement.

Earlier this year, the BC NDP government recommended four new federal regulations and endorsed the implementation of six measures put forth by a recent federal consultation paper.

The six measures that BC endorsed are:

  1. Requiring that online retailers post information advising prospective customers that the sale of vaping and tobacco products are restricted to persons of legal age;
  2. Requiring two-step age verification for online retailing, like the age verification system in place in B.C. for online cannabis ordering;
  3. Requiring that packages containing vaping or tobacco products bear a prescribed label that reads ‘Age verification required at delivery’;
  4. Requiring a signature upon delivery and prohibiting packages from being left on doorsteps;
  5. Restricting delivery to prescribed carriers; and
  6. Restricting online retailing to retailers that utilize third-party age-verification services.

Following the release of the international study, Health Minister Dix also added that BC was ready to unroll its own policies if federal action did not begin soon.

“B.C. also stands ready to introduce its own initiatives should federal action be delayed,” he said in a statement.

“Obviously, it is our preference to work with other jurisdictions and the federal government on joint action.”

While BC has committed to taking future action on reducing vaping among youth, the Canadian Cancer Society (CCS) stresses that current prevention methods are failing this urgent health concern.

“Current measures to prevent youth vaping are clearly not working,” said Cunningham. “Governments need to take action now to reduce both youth vaping and youth smoking.”

Tobacco use continues to be the leading preventable cause of disease and death in Canada, killing nearly 45,000 people each year and accounting for roughly 30% of all cancer deaths in the country, according to the CCS.