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Canadian health officials scrutinize pot vaping illnesses in US

President Donald Trump wants to ban flavored e-cigarettes, it was learned on Wednesday – owing to a surge in underage vaping and more than 400 illnesses across 33 states associated with vaping, including six deaths.

To date, no vaping illnesses have been reported in Canada. Health Canada has asked vape users to report any symptoms. Doctors have been sent notices on what to look out for in the way of symptoms.

However, according to CTV News Canada, Dr. Bonnie Henry, British Columbia’s provincial health officer says it is only a matter of time. “There is no doubt in my mind that we will see cases pop up in Canada in the next few weeks now that we have started really looking for it.”

Youth use of electronic cigarettes has reached

Youth use of electronic cigarettes has reached “an epidemic proportion,” the head of the US Food and Drug Administration says

While Canada has already legalized the recreational marijuana market, the sale of pot edibles and vaping products is not expected to become legal until later this year. Megan McCrae, board chair of the Cannabis Council of Canada, an industry group for licensed pot growers says the illicit vape market in Canada is estimated to be worth about $1 billion.

Doctors in the U.S. are claiming the illnesses they are seeing in patients appears to be caused by inhaling a caustic substance. No cause has definitively been established, even though tests by the New York State Health Department identified vitamin E acetate – used as a thickener – in black-market THC vaping cartridges.

McCrae said this is all the more reason for Canada to legalize THC vaping products. “Most of these issues coming out of the U.S. are related to black market product and what black-market producers are doing to cut corners,” she said.

Maryse Durette, a top spokeswoman for Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada, said Canada has restrictions on e-cigarettes and vape products that contain tobacco, as well as a minimum age of 19 to buy them. There are also bans on lifestyle promotions and advertising that appeals to youth. But she said “it isn’t clear why no cases have appeared.”

Electronic Cigarettes

Electronic Cigarettes
Chris F (CC BY 2.0)

Canadian politicians speak out
While Trump has been blunt on the subject of vaping and e-cigarettes, Canadian politicians are taking a more sensible approach. So far, there have been no illnesses associated with e-cigarettes or vaping in Canada.

“All of our decisions, when it comes to any sort of product in the market, should be based on evidence and should be based on the science, and if we have some science and evidence that point to a problem, then we should respond,” NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said. “Right now, that science is unclear.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Health Canada has been consulting with experts for “many months… to determine the right path forward.”

“We’ve already taken a number of steps on vaping and harmful tobacco use and we’re always looking to do more to keep Canadians safe,” he said. “But our decisions will be made based on evidence, based on data and we will have more to say as Health Canada continues to do its work of keeping Canadians safe, including from the dangers of vaping.”

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We are deeply saddened to announce the passing of our dear friend Karen Graham, who served as Editor-at-Large at Digital Journal. She was 78 years old. Karen's view of what is happening in our world was colored by her love of history and how the past influences events taking place today. Her belief in humankind's part in the care of the planet and our environment has led her to focus on the need for action in dealing with climate change. It was said by Geoffrey C. Ward, "Journalism is merely history's first draft." Everyone who writes about what is happening today is indeed, writing a small part of our history.

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