Dear Minister Elliot,
Recently, Student Trustee Ivy Deng introduced an important motion that expresses her concerns with the sale of e-cigarettes and vaping products (i.e. vapes, mods and juuls) and calls for your government to make changes to protect our youth. On behalf of the Toronto District School Board, I am writing you in full support of her motion and the action she is calling for.
According to 2019 National Youth Tobacco Survey data, vaping among youth has drastically increased from 3.6 million in 2018 to 5 million in 2019. This is a major concern as e-cigarettes and vaping products contain harmful substances, such as high concentrations of nicotine, cancer-causing chemicals and heavy metals, which can lead to serious lung disease and other health problems. These harmful chemicals can also stunt brain development and negatively impact a person’s memory and concentration levels. These skills are crucial for learning and therefore, I believe it is our responsibility as leaders of education and elected officials to do everything we can to protect our youth.
The Canadian Cancer Society is urging the province to increase the minimum age to 21 to purchase both tobacco and vaping products. We are in full support of this action as it has been proven most effective in other parts of the world. For example, the Finnish Government saw a drastic decrease in smoking in people aged 14 – 16 after raising the minimum age and requiring tobacco companies to develop and execute a plan to prevent sales to under-aged consumers.
We ask that you take the following actions to protect the health, well-being and learning capabilities of our youth:
- raise the minimum age to buy vape products containing nicotine from 19 to 21 years; and;
- urge vape companies to restrict advertising campaigns that are targeted toward teenagers.
I also want to bring to your attention my previous letter, which further outlines our concerns with e-cigarettes and vaping products and how we are playing our part in educating our students about the harmful effects of these products.
As always, I am happy to discuss this with you further at a later date.
Robin Pilkey, CPA, CA, ICD.D
Chair, Toronto District School Board