The Government of Saskatchewan has taken a significant step in safeguarding the health and well-being of its youth by passing Bill 147 and amending The Tobacco and Vapour Products Control Act.
The legislation increases the minimum age for the purchase of tobacco and vapour products from 18 to 19.
Health Minister Everett Hindley said the Government of Saskatchewan is committed to ensuring tobacco and vapour products are inaccessible to school-aged youth and that Saskatchewan youth are not targets of advertising for these products.
“Tobacco and vapour products should have no place in Saskatchewan schools,” he said, “That is why we are taking steps to protect students from being exposed to these products.”
The amendment aligns age restrictions for smoking and vaping with the existing regulations governing the sale of liquor and cannabis in Saskatchewan while also bringing the province in line with most other Canadian provinces.
Carolyn Cyr, the director of health systems and policy with the Heart and Stoke Foundation, said that the foundation and many other stakeholders and advocates are pleased that the government has taken action.
“We know that vaping amongst youth is an epidemic across the country and in particular in our province here,” she said. “We have been working with the government over the past year together with a group called Youth for Change, as well as Lung Saskatchewan Canadian Cancer Society to share recommendations of how to address this, so we’re really pleased to see them take action on this.”
Cyr said that she believes this is a step in the right direction for the province.
“Up until now, Saskatchewan was an outlier in the country where we were the only province that had a different minimum age for purchasing tobacco and vaping products compared to alcohol and cannabis products,” she said, “We think that this is a step in the right direction towards limiting accessibility to youth and helping to get it out of schools.”
Cyr noted that more work is needed nationwide and a continued push for the minimum age to be 21.
“We know that there’s still a lot more work to be done, but we really want to just limit the availability to young youth, knowing that youth who are vaping are about three times more likely to eventually start smoking.”
In addition to raising the minimum purchase age, Bill 147 introduces greater clarity to existing restrictions on the advertising and promoting of vapour products, particularly concerning their impact on youth.
“Vapour products are introducing Saskatchewan youth to the dangers of nicotine addiction,” Hindley said. “We appreciate the efforts of youth groups and health partners advocating for extra protections in the province.”
The legislative changes will come into force at a later date.