June 21, 2020
Youth advocacy group calls on Alberta Premier to let MLAs vote their conscience
SAAVE supports 68 Alberta physicians who seek Bill 19 amendment
to ban flavours and reduce nicotine levels
Calgary AB – An advocacy group devoted to preventing vaping-related nicotine addiction in children and youth is calling on Premier Jason Kenney to amend Bill 19 and then to permit United Conservative Party MLAs to vote their conscience.
Stop Addicting Adolescents to Vaping and E-Cigarettes (SAAVE) is a group of high school students, undergraduate students, graduate students, medical experts and health researchers who urgently appeal to the Alberta Government to amend Bill 19 to adopt the recommendations of public health medical professionals who have called for a ban on flavours and a reduction in nicotine concentration levels in e-cigarettes.
In demanding a vaping flavour ban and reduction in nicotine levels from 66 mg/mL to 20 mg/mL, the group cites the epidemic of youth vaping, the significant health consequences and long-term costs to the province of nicotine addiction and a recent doctors’ letter that affirms that vaping does not lead to smoking cessation – the false premise of Bill 19.
In calling upon the Premier not to whip the vote, the group asserts that MLAs know their respective communities’ children and youth, and are aware of their duty and opportunity to protect them from harm.
MLAs also know that 92 percent of Canadian parents consider vaping harmful, and that 60 percent of Canadians support a ban on vaping flavours. MLAs might also know that the European Union and United Kingdom’s low nicotine concentration levels have prevented a youth vaping epidemic there.
SAAVE is concerned also about allegations of UCP conflict of interest. Even if the UCP is beholding to the vaping and tobacco industry, MLAs still have a professional duty and moral obligation to represent the interests of all their constituents – especially those who cannot yet vote and who will be most affected for the longest time.
UCP leaders say that they have received many cards from adult vapers who want to retain flavours and nicotine concentrations. Those cards are probably initiated and even funded by the vaping and tobacco industry. The deck is stacked against children and youth interests because no group is funding cards from children and youth, or from parents who watch their children fail to fight nicotine addiction caused by vaping.
The vaping industry cannot afford to lose flavours and high nicotine concentrations and lobbied the Alberta Government against such change. According to the US Centers for Disease Control addiction expert, Dr. Brian King, all three factors are necessary to influence youth to vape: “the advertising will lead a horse to water, the flavours will get them to drink, and the nicotine will keep them coming back for more.”
SAAVE thanks the Government of Alberta for addressing the first factor (advertising), and urgently calls on it to address the remain two factors (flavours and nicotine levels).
Once Bill 19 is amended to protect children and youth, the UCP party leader must permit UCP MLAs to vote their conscience.