The Hamilton Spectator

Tackle vaping through higher prices


Growing up in southern Ontario in the 2000s, it was rare to see someone smoking.

We were very fortunate to enjoy a childhood where our air was mostly free from secondhand cigarette smoke, especially since one of us struggles with asthma. Unfortunat­ely, vaping changed all that.

As e-cigarettes grew in popularity among our fellow middle and high school students, so did our concerns around these new products.

A few years ago, e-cigarettes or “vapes” became extremely popular in high school. They became increasing­ly accessible and sold in appealing flavours such as “mango tango” and vanilla.

While there’s a mistaken perception among our generation that these products are harmless, many people who started years ago are still vaping to this day and some experience health issues.

Now, around our university campus, we see loads of students vaping, controlled by a habit they didn’t expect would become an addiction.

This addiction comes with real consequenc­es, which many young people are already seeing. Vapes can impact breathing, damage lung tissue and increase risk for cardiovasc­ular disease.

Because of what we’ve experience­d with our peers it is painfully obvious to us that, as a society, we should be doing everything in our power to prevent young people from starting down the road of vape addiction. We believe that our province should do more to keep young Ontarians from starting or continuing to vape.

There’s a simple but effective step for the province to take. Our government should participat­e in a federal vaping taxation plan, which would increase the price on e-liquids used for vaping. The federal government has set a vape duty which is in effect already, and this plan also allows the provinces to add their own tax of the same amount.

Research already demonstrat­es that taxes on harmful products limit consumptio­n because of the rise in price, which discourage­s use; that means fewer young people becoming addicted to nicotine and vaping.

As university students on limited budgets, we can attest that price matters. A tax can also signal to people that e-cigarettes are not simply harmless “vaporized water” but that they are addictive and carry real health risks.

Eight Canadian provinces have already introduced a vape tax or have signalled interest to opt-in to the federal vape tax collaborat­ion.

Ontario and Manitoba are the only provinces to date that have not.

We can’t understand why Ontario is delaying or even passing up a plan that not only would improve the health of young Ontarians, but also raise money that can be used to fund important services. Instead, the government of Ontario seems content to let both the money and young people’s health slip away.

Because of our concerns around vaping and our generation’s health, we decided to cofound the McMaster Cardiovasc­ular and Resuscitat­ion club, an initiative started this year which aims to promote ecigarette awareness and knowledge, increase CPR and automatic defibrilla­tor training, and support cardiovasc­ular research.

As young people with an interest in health care, we want to do everything in our power to help make Ontarians healthier and reduce the demand on the health-care system in the long term.

We need the government of Ontario to do the same, and one of the easiest and best places it can start is by joining the federal vape tax program.

We would all then breathe easier.

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