EDITORIAL: Planet of the Vapes

Years ago, in that more trusting era when men wore hats and the planet was our smoking section, 20,679 physicians agreed that Lucky Strike cigarettes were less irritating to the throat. After all, they were toasted.

Dentists backed Viceroys, athletes touted Camels, and future U.S. president Ronald Reagan opted for Chesterfields as generations blackened their lungs, yellowed their teeth and made the air as ugly as their habit.

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We hoped that era was over but, much like virulent racism and junk science, it survived on social media. While Juul marketed vape juice on brand new platforms, they recycled very old cigarette ads featuring attractive young people who presumably never hack up anything awful in the morning or suffer shortness of breath.

The strategy, which emphasized kid-friendly flavours like cotton candy and pink lemonade and downplayed reports of impurities like formaldehyde, seemed to work as Canada’s vaping rate among young people shot up 74 per cent between 2017 and 2018.

Our province, finally, is acting. B.C. is tripling the PST on vape products and restricting advertising in public places like bus shelters. The regulations also limit nicotine levels, which may be chopped by as much as 60 per cent.

The province’s announcement follows news of a Michigan teenager who needed a double lung transplant after his lungs were severely damaged from vaping. The doctor who led the surgery called vaping: “an evil I haven’t faced before.”

But he has. We all have.

Let’s win this time.

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