London’s youth are troubled by the rising prevalence of vaping in public schools and are calling on local, provincial and federal governments to do something about it.
The HEAL Youth Advisory Council (HEALYAC) from London, Ontario informs youth-related health research conducted by the Human Environments Analysis Laboratory (HEAL) at Western University. It represents the diverse voices and perspectives of 14 teenagers from across the city.
“Vaping is a serious health issue facing teenagers, and we have put together a list of recommendations to address this complex public health issue,” said Aliana Manji, student on the HEALYAC.
The HEALYAC recommendations are based on a careful review of existing research and the students own personal experiences as teens.
“We believe regulations must be modified to introduce strict marketing rules, and new safeguards on the online purchase of vaping products for anyone under the age of 19, including prohibiting it on school property.” said Eleanor Park, another student on the HEALYAC.
The teenagers are also calling for additional research, immediate implementation of government regulation, improved detection and enforcement in schools, and cessation and coping support for youth.
The Middlesex-London Health Unit wants to collaborate with the HEALYAC and looks forward to welcoming the group to its Board of Health meeting on Thursday, October 17 to discuss its recommendations.
“The excellent work being done by the HEALYAC aligns closely with our own efforts in addressing the issue of vaping, but from a distinctly youth perspective and we look forward to hearing from them at our Board meeting,” said Dr. Chris Mackie, Medical Officer of Health with the Middlesex-London Health Unit. “There’s a great opportunity to collaborate with the HEALYAC to develop and implement a ‘by youth, for youth’ strategy to address the issue of vaping.”
Easy access to vaping products leaves all high school students, both those who vape and their peers, vulnerable to the risks and uncertain consequences of vaping.
“There is certainly a lack of scientific evidence available for young people to make informed decisions about e-cigarettes,” said Jason Gilliland, Director, HEAL. “The members of our teen advisory council are concerned that their peers are either unaware of the potential health effects of vaping, or that the lack evidence is leading to the assumption there are no negative consequences. Thanks to the youth, we are looking into conducting new research in this area.”
For more information about the HEALYAC and its position statement on vaping, visit: theheal.ca/YAC
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