Progressive Conservative backbencher Cory Deagle is hoping a bill restricting sale of vaping products to youth will address what he is calling an “epidemic".
The bill, introduced in the legislature by Deagle on Thursday, would ban the sale of electronic smoking devices that contain prescribed flavouring agents and would raise the legal smoking and vaping age from 19 to 21. The bill would also restrict the sale of e-cigarettes to specialty vape stores.
The Montague-Kilmuir MLA said he has seen a drastic increase in teens who are using vaping products in recent years. Although health research has begun to show negative health effects of vaping products, many still believe vaping to be a less harmful alternative to smoking.
"If you just take Montague high school, for example. They have a population of about 450 students. They figure that, possibly as much as 300 of them vape," Deagle said.
"It's students that are on student council, it's student athletes, students that are in band – it's everyone. It's not just a select group."
Deagle has been raising the issue in the Coles Building for months. During question period on July 12, 2019, Deagle directed questions at his own PC colleague, Health Minister James Aylward.
“Being around the rink and the soccer fields all the time, I’ve seen youth first-hand that have started vaping, and it really has become an epidemic, I believe,” Deagle said during question period on July 12.
On Thursday, Deagle said he brought forward his bill to make it more difficult for youth to begin vaping.
"The evidence shows that the majority of them get it through their peers. A 16-year-old would have a much more difficult time to get a 21-year-old to buy them a pack of cigarettes than what a 19-year-old would," Deagle said.
The bill, if passed, would make P.E.I. the first province in Canada to increase the permitted age for vaping to 21. Deagle says about 18 U.S. states have brought in increases to both the smoking and vaping age.
The bill would allow a phase-in for individuals, and if passed it would immediately only apply to individuals who become 19 after it is in effect.
The Canadian Cancer Society praised the bill on Thursday, saying that youth vaping increased by 74 per cent between 2017 and 2018.
We cannot afford to witness another generation succumb (to) this deadly addiction,” said Kelly Cull, director of public policy for the Canadian Cancer Society.
“Tremendous progress has been made to reduce tobacco use in Canada, but now the tobacco industry has its hooks in our youth through e-cigarettes.”
Deagle’s private members bill comes the same day as the B.C. legislature passed a bill that would increase taxes on vaping products from two cents to 29 cents. The B.C. bill also restricts the amount of nicotine in e-cigarettes.