In recent years, vaping has gone from a phenomenon to a crisis among Canadian teens and young adults, say researchers.
Fifteen years after they were introduced in Canada, e-cigarettes made headlines in 2019 with a spike in vaping-related illnesses and soaring rates of youth vaping.
If 2019 was the year of the vaping scare, observers and critics are hoping that 2020 will be the year in which Canada gains some control over the issue.
Before the year was over the federal government began taking steps in that direction by announcing a ban on promotion of vaping products in spaces where young people could see them, including on social media. It also announced that e-cigarettes must carry mandatory health warnings and must be child resistant.
Critics want to see the government go much further when it comes to reducing teen vaping.
The mandate letter to newly appointed federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu suggests the government could go further. The letter, released in mid-December, tells the health minister to “tackle the rapid increase in vaping among young people,” in collaboration with other levels of government by taking regulatory action to “reduce the promotion and appeal of vaping products to young people and by educating the public to raise awareness of health risks.”
The federal government and others have their work cut out.
In recent years, vaping has gone from a phenomenon to a crisis among Canadian teens and young adults, researchers say.
In groundbreaking research, Professor David Hammond of the University of Waterloo found that between 2017 and 2018 vaping increased by a stunning 74 per cent among Canadian teens between the ages of 16 and 19. His ongoing research suggests there has been a similar increase in youth vaping in 2019 and Hammond believes numbers of youth vaping could go higher yet.
The Canadian Student tobacco, Alcohol and Drugs survey for 2018-2019 found e-cigarette use by students doubled between 2016-17 and 2018-19. Twenty per cent of students surveyed (approximately 418,000) had used e-cigarettes in the past 30 days, an increase from 10 per cent the last time the survey was done in 2016-17.
The figures are shocking, but likely no surprising to those who have been seeing the first-hand evidence in schools and other places teenagers frequent.
In Ottawa and elsewhere, schools have taken the doors off bathrooms to try to control vaping, without much luck. Teachers report students vaping in class — exhaling into the sleeves to try to hide it and vaping wherever they can.
The huge spike in teen vaping is likely related to high rates of nicotine in Juul e-cigarettes and other popular products.
Before Juul came along, there were almost no e-cigarette brands with more than 20 mg of nicotine for each millilitre of e-liquid. That is the limit in Europe. But in North America, Juul contains 57 mg of nicotine. The federal government only limits nicotine to 66 mg or below.
The biggest change in the market, said Hammond, is that Juul designed a product that could deliver higher amounts of nicotine while remaining smooth tasting. The result has been high rates of nicotine addiction, mainly among youth.
Along with spiking teen vaping rates, dramatic and deadly cases of vaping-related illnesses have been in the news, especially in the U.S. where 52 people have died and more than 2,400 have been hospitalized. In Canada, 14 cases of vaping related illness have been reported.
The acute illnesses and deaths in the U.S. have been linked to the additive Vitamin E acetate in THC in most cases.
A study published in December, found e-cigarette users were significantly more likely to develop long-term chronic lung disease than non-smokers.
The issues have occurred against a backdrop of weak or non-existent federal regulations in Canada, which has been consulting on tougher regulations. Some provinces have toughened their laws, including a ban on the sale of flavoured vaping liquid in New Brunswick and a reduction in nicotine levels in British Columbia.
Hammond said Health Canada has failed to properly regulate the product and as a result has failed both the adult smokers who could use them to quit cigarettes and the teenagers who have become addicted to nicotine.
E-cigarettes, he noted, are less harmful than cigarettes, but they are also highly addictive: “It might not make sense to sell them beside the chips and chocolate bars.”
Meanwhile, many of the adult smokers who could reduce their harm by switching to e-cigarettes are no longer interested. “Adults don’t want to go near them. Everyone sees this as something 15-year-olds grab on the way to a party.”
Ottawa’s Dr. Andrew Pipe said the federal government needs to step up with tougher regulations. The existing regulations are tepid, he said, and have left a regulatory vacuum. Even the changes announced at the end of the year do not come close to what he and others want to see — notably banning flavoured e-cigarettes.
Pipe, who is considered the country’s foremost expert on smoking cessation, was instrumental in developing the Ottawa Model for Smoking Cessation at the University of Ottawa Heart Institute. He wants to see flavoured e-cigarettes banned and limits on nicotine, in addition to the restrictions on where they can be sold and mandatory health warnings, which have been announced.
One of the sad ironies of the lack of regulation, Pipe said, is that the potential of e-cigarettes to be used as harm reduction “has now essentially been squandered. No responsible clinician is now going to entertain the use of e-cigarettes as a harm reduction aid. Their potential for harm reduction has gone out the window.”
Pipe urged the new federal minister of health to act strongly to turn around soaring youth vaping rates buy using emergency powers to expedite changes while longer-term regulations are being developed.
“We are dealing with an urgent, emergent public health issue which many have labelled a crisis.”
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The Key Role of Trustworthy Babysitters in Balancing Work and Family Life
Are you a busy parent in constant pursuit of the elusive work-life balance? We know firsthand how overwhelming and challenging it can be to juggle professional commitments while still having quality time with your children.
That’s why we’re here to discuss an essential ingredient that unlocks the secret to harmony: trustworthy babysitters.
What Characteristics Parents Should Look for When Choosing a Babysitter?
Parents should look for a few key characteristics when choosing a babysitter. A good babysitter should be patient, responsible, and reliable. They should also be comfortable with children and have prior experience caring for them.
Besides, the babysitter must be able to communicate effectively and follow directions well. The babysitter should be someone the parents can trust to care for their children in their absence.
Strategies for Parents to Establish Reasonable Anticipations
As a parent, finding babysitters you can trust to care for your children is vital. However, it is also important to establish reasonable expectations for your babysitters.
Some tips for establishing reasonable expectations for babysitters include:
- Set clear expectations: Sit down with your babysitter to discuss bedtime routines, dietary preferences, and any necessary medications.
- Allow flexibility: While clarity is vital, also provide room for your babysitter to use their judgment and feel comfortable in their role.
- Trust their expertise: Once expectations are set, trust your babysitter’s judgment as a professional caregiver to avoid undermining their authority and creating discomfort in their role.
Determining a Fair Payment Plan
Determine your babysitting budget, factoring in your income and family size, while researching local rates. Account for the babysitter’s experience and qualifications, giving preference to those recommended by trusted sources.
Engage in open negotiations with your chosen babysitter. This aims to find a mutually agreeable arrangement that accommodates both your budget and their needs.
Tips on Finding Trustworthy and Compassionate Caregivers
When seeking a caregiver for your child, to ensure you find the right fit:
- Seek recommendations from trusted sources such as friends, family, and neighbours who may have suggestions for caregivers in your area.
- Conduct online research to review feedback and check references to gauge candidates’ qualifications and experience.
- Request references and contact details from the caregivers’ previous employers or families they have worked with.
- Trust your instincts and ensure you feel at ease with the caregiver, ensuring they are someone you can entrust with your child’s well-being.
Being able to trust your babysitter means you can have peace of mind knowing your child is safe and cared for.
Spending some time researching online reviews or asking friends and family for recommendations will help you find the perfect fit so you can feel more at ease while juggling work commitments in today’s hectic world.
Facility-wide COVID-19 outbreak at Bethammi Nursing Home
THUNDER BAY — St. Joseph’s Care Group and the Thunder Bay District Health Unit have declared a facility-wide COVID-19 outbreak at Bethammi Nursing Home, part of the St. Joseph’s Heritage complex on Carrie Street near Red River Road.
The respiratory outbreak at the 112-bed facility was declared effective Sept. 15 but only announced publicly on Monday.
No details were provided with regard to the number of people affected to date.
Restrictions are now in place for admissions, transfers, discharges, social activities and visitation until further notice.
Alberta COVID hospitalizations up 73% since July: health minister
Three weeks after the start of the school year, Alberta’s health minister provided an update on the spread of airborne viruses in the province.
Adriana LaGrange also said more information about flu and next-generation COVID-19 vaccines will soon be released.
“Now that we will be spending more time indoors, we need to make doubly sure we are following proper hygiene protocols like handwashing and staying home when sick,” LaGrange said. “It also means respecting those who choose to wear a mask.”
Global News previously reported that influenza vaccines will be available on Oct. 16 with the new Moderna vaccine formulated to target the XBB.1.5 variant likely to be available at around the same time. On Sept. 12, Health Canada approved the use of the Moderna vaccine.
“More information on immunizations against respiratory viruses including influenza and COVID-19 will be available shortly,” the health minister said.
LaGrange said there have been 28 cases of influenza and five lab-confirmed cases of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) since Aug. 28.
“This is consistent activity for this time of the year,” the health minister said in a statement.
The end of August or the beginning of September has typically marked the beginning of flu season for provincial health authorities.
LaGrange also provided an update on the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic in the province.
From Aug. 28 to Sept. 8, there were a total 92 new hospitalizations and three ICU admissions, bringing the total to 417 in hospital and seven in ICU, a 73 per cent increase of COVID hospitalizations from the last reported info.
On July 24 – the last update to the province’s COVID data dashboard – there were only 242 in hospital.
“Sadly, five Albertans died during that period due to COVID-19,” LaGrange said.
LaGrange said the reporting dashboard is being refreshed to include RSV, influenza and COVID-19 data, work that was originally expected to be completed on Aug. 30. The latest data on the province’s influenza statistics dashboard is dated July 22.
“This work is currently underway and will be available in the coming weeks,” LaGrange said.
She said data for the dates between July 24 and Aug. 27 will be available when the new dashboard goes online.
Amid more hospitals continent-wide reinstating masking requirements in the face of increased hospitalizations, the health minister made no mention of any such moves for Alberta hospitals. Acute care COVID-19 outbreaks in Alberta jumped from Sept. 5 to 12, with 146 per cent more healthcare workers and 55 per cent more patients testing positive for COVID.
LaGrange stressed the “collective responsibility” to prevent the spread of airborne viruses like COVID and influenza.
“As a mother and grandmother, I understand the anxiety that comes with sending your children back to school. I want to reassure you that Alberta’s government has the health and well-being of all young Albertans top of mind,” the health minister said.
–with files from Meghan Cobb, Global News
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