Youth4Change Applauds The Saskatchewan Government for Amendments to the The Tobacco and Vapour Products Control Amendment Act
Youth4Change and their health partners from Lung Saskatchewan, Heart & Stroke, and the Canadian Cancer Society, applaud the unanimous passing of the Tobacco and Vapour Products Control Amendment Act by the Saskatchewan Legislative Assembly which will increase the minimum age to purchase tobacco and vaping products from 18 to 19 as well as cracking down on advertising and promotion of vapour products to help protect the province’s youth.
The proposed legislation comes after Youth4Change groups from across Saskatchewan, along with their health partners, had presented several recommendations to the government, including advocating for years to increase the minimum age for purchase. Edit (Nov. 10): We have received the update that Bill 147 was given Royal Assent!
“We are so pleased that the government is listening to the province’s youth in making this important change. This is a key step in protecting young people in Saskatchewan from the risks of smoking and vaping.” says Lydia, a Youth4Change ambassador. “After vaping for three years and going through some tough experiences and breathing issues, I knew something needed to change. I reached out to Lung Saskatchewan for support in quitting vaping. Now, I am advocating for Saskatchewan youth because I want to protect them from experiencing what I went through."
Saskatchewan has the highest prevalence of youth (Grade 7-12) smoking among Canadian provinces at 8.1%, compared to 2.8% of youth across the country. Similarly, youth vaping rates in the province have seen a dramatic increase, with 35% of students in Grades 10 to 12 vaping in the 2021-22 school year, compared with 15% seven years ago.
“We congratulate the Saskatchewan government for taking action to protect our young people from the epidemic of youth vaping and smoking,” says Carolyn Cyr, Director of Health Policy and Systems with Heart & Stroke. “These changes will help keep tobacco and vaping products out of the hands of Saskatchewan youth. As well, this brings the purchase age into alignment with alcohol and cannabis products in our province.”
Youth who use tobacco and vaping products generally get them through social sources. Given that there are relatively few 19-year-olds in high school, raising the minimum purchase age to 19 will help prevent older youth from buying tobacco and vaping products for their peers, and will help teachers and administrators with enforcement in schools. Most people who smoke start and become addicted to nicotine when they are teenagers. Vaping is also more common among younger people than older adults in Canada. Those who start smoking and vaping during adolescence are more likely to form severe nicotine addiction and experience greater difficulty in quitting.
“We praise the Saskatchewan Government for its leadership, and we thank all parties for their support of this crucial public health legislation,” says Jennifer May, Vice President of Health Promotion and Government Relations for Lung Saskatchewan. “Saskatchewan youth deserve protection from tobacco and vapour products and this legislation takes meaningful action to do so. We look forward to continuing this important work with the government in order to strengthen policy to protect Saskatchewan kids.”
Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable disease and death in the world, taking the lives of 46,000 Canadians every single year. In Saskatchewan that equates to over 1,500 residents dying from tobacco-related disease annually.
“Over the last decade we have made progress in reducing commercial tobacco use in Saskatchewan. The rise in youth vaping has the potential to undermine and reverse this public health success,” says Angeline Webb, Senior Manager of Advocacy for the Canadian Cancer Society. “Youth who vape are three times more likely to start smoking. It is essential we work together to prevent youth from ever starting to smoke or vape.”
For every premature death caused by smoking, there are at least twenty people who smoke who are living with a serious smoking-related illness. This suffering and premature death is entirely preventable.
The Youth4Change wanted to have some fun during the last visit to the legislature so they decided to challenge the MLA's to a "MLA Sock Contest"! Honourable Paul Merriman was declared the winner with over 50% of the votes with his 'selfie socks'!