Canadian Spotlight on Advocacy
My respect this week is hands down for a lady who exemplifies the best qualities in personal character. All while fighting a battle against reason, logic and for modern science.
We learn determination, individual class and what it means to lead by example all while knowing she’ll be there to help us do our best when we decide to stand out and speak
My hats off to Marion Burt and her tenacity to soldier on.
A recent letter by Marion;
Governments at all levels in Canada are anxious to protect youth from smoking via experimentation with vaping. Throughout its discussions of Schedule 3 of Bill 174, the Ontario government cited a study done by Dr Baskerville at the University of Waterloo that purported to prove that vaping youth were 2.5 times more likely to start smoking than non-vapers. Some weaknesses in the structure and in the interpretation of this study have been reported to Dr Baskerville, but he has made no reply.
The Ontario Student Drug Use and Health Survey for 2017 was issued recently, and its results would appear to contradict Dr Baskerville’s conclusions. This survey by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health is considerably larger and more detailed than his and also reflects reality rather than clairvoyance. For these reasons, it should be given more weight in consideration of the regulations to be applied to vaping in Ontario.
The surveys for 2015 and 2017 show the following data for young people’s use of vapes and tobacco:
Electronic Cigarettes 11.7 10.7%
Tobacco 8.6% 7%
Notice that the usage for tobacco dropped to its lowest recorded level in 2017. This would indicate that, rather than being a gateway to smoking, vaping probably served as a deflection away from smoking.
Notice also that the level of vaping has also dropped. This would indicate that vaping attracts young people through its novelty, but not through addiction.
The survey also reports that, in 2017, at least 40% of students vaped with no nicotine. Although nicotine may not be good for young brains, the nicotine involved in vaping (if used) is at a lower level than that of tobacco, so the young people undoubtedly gained some harm reduction through vaping instead of smoking!
Also, the study reported that most vaping youth used devices and other supplies borrowed from friends or given by family members. This is not surprising, because it costs more to start vaping than to start smoking. It reinforces the testimony of vapers and vape shop owners that they do not encourage young people to start vaping and do not sell to people under 19. One can also assume that family members who encourage children to vape may be doing so in the hope that vaping will allow them to stop smoking!
The conclusions that one can draw from this run counter to the intentions of the legislation just passed in Schedule 3 of Bill 174. Instead of trying to hide vaping and its devices and equipment and make it difficult for people to use it, the focus should be on characterizing vaping as a form of harm reduction for smokers who want to switch to a safer alternative. It should not punish vapers for having chosen this way of escaping from smoking — on the contrary, it should reward them with acceptance and support.