St. Albert school boards are celebrating after their resolution to pressure levels of government to ban ads promoting vaping to youth passed at the annual general meeting for the Alberta School Boards Association last week.
St. Albert Public, Greater St. Albert Catholic and Red Deer Public teamed up to put forward a joint resolution to encourage a ban on such ads. Their resolution was the only motion that passed with no amendments and with 100 per cent support from school boards across the province.
Greater St. Albert Catholic board chair Joe Becigneul and Cheryl Dumont, trustee for St. Albert Public, called the resolution a success.
“It was the only resolution that was 100 per cent,” Dumont said.
Becigneul said as he was walking back to his table, he heard other trustees call the vote a “no-brainer.”
All three boards were working on separate resolutions to take to the AGM, but once they realized they were all working towards the same goal, they decided to team up and put together one resolution.
The joint motion approved by the 61 school boards across the province calls on the province’s health and education ministers to conduct and share research on the health impacts of vaping, and calls on all levels of government to ban the advertisement, promotion and accessibility of vaping products to youth.
Becigneul said students are vaping in school and it is done so discreetly it’s sometimes hard to for staff to know it is happening.
“They can do it in the schools and blow it into their sweaters. Some of them don’t even produce a vape. Some of them blow it into their sleeves and the smell is a candy flavour,” Becigneul said.
“We know the junior highs are doing it."
The chair called the issue an "epidemic" and said they need to start combating the habit early so it doesn’t take as long to stamp out as smoking did.
Becigneul said the time to act is now and he feels there is enough research out there on vaping to start regulating it.
A University of Waterloo study released last June found vaping rates amongst Canadians aged 16 to 19 rose 74 per cent between 2017 and 2018 (from 8.4 per cent to 14.6), and cigarette smoking amongst youths had increased for the first time since 2008.
Dumont said kids can see ads for vaping at every corner store, while cigarettes are regulated differently and locked away so kids aren’t exposed to them when they go to the store.
The Alberta government is currently reviewing the Tobacco and Smoking Reduction Act.