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All Sask hospitals now monitoring for vapingrelated illness

TROY FLEECE / Regina Leader-Post Health Minister Jim Reiter has asked the province’s health officials to monitor for any potential vaping related-illness and is calling on parents to talk to their children about the risks associated with vaping.“I am concerned with the recent incidents of vaping related illnesses, as well as the high rates of vaping we are seeing among Saskatchewan youth,” said Reiter in a statement issued to media on Friday.“Although Saskatchewan has not recorded any instances of pulmonary illness associated with vaping similar to the recently reported cases in the United States and Ontario, earlier this week I directed Saskatchewan public health officials to monitor all cases as they present in intensive care units.”Saskatchewan’s chief medical health officer Saqib Shahab said he has notified all the province’s hospital intensive care units that all cases of non-infectious severe respiratory disease potentially due to vaping must be reported to local medial health officers by phone immediately.The number of severe lung illness cases believed to be caused by vaping across the United States has risen to 530, including seven deaths, and the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention is still searching for a specific cause. On Wednesday, Canadian health officials confirmed one possible case, which wasn’t fatal, had surfaced in Ontario.Story continues belowThis advertisement has not loaded yet,but your article continues below.Shahab said that monitoring will continue in Saskatchewan until there is a better understanding of exactly what is causing these illnesses. Symptoms of the illness include coughing, shortness of breath, vomiting, fatigue and fever. He noted that in many of the U.S. cases, the patients had tampered with their vape liquid, adding substances like cannabis, but that this was not for all cases.“The key message right now is that if you’re not already a smoker, don’t start vaping. There’s no reason to vape,” Shahab told reporters on FridayEven for people who do smoke and are considering vaping as a healthier option, he warned that the health impacts of vaping are not fully known. He also voiced concern over the high rate of youth vaping in Saskatchewan. BRANDON HARDER / Regina Leader-Post A sign in the window of a Regina service station indicates vaping products are sold in the store. lgiesbrecht@postmedia.com Vaping products in Regina. U.S. President Donald Trump said last week he planned to ban all flavours of vape juice except tobacco in an effort to make vaping less attractive to youth. The Government of Canada has not yet committed to any decisive action, but in an online update Friday Health Canada said: “The Government of Canada will continue to monitor all available data sources and surveillance systems for signals in Canada and will take action, as appropriate.”Imperial Tobacco Canada — which launched its first vaping product in Canada in May 2018 — is calling on the federal and provincial governments to look for “a balanced regulatory approach to vaping products” rather than a ban like the U.S. is planning, it said in a release issued Thursday.“The reported cases of acute respiratory illness highlight the importance of effective regulation and enforcement to ensure product safety,” said Eric Gagnon, the company’s head of corporate and regulatory affairs, in the statement.“We believe in balanced, reasonable regulations that offers adult smokers and vapers the confidence that the product they are using meets safety standards, is tamper resistant and is tested in accordance to consumer protection norms.”Instead of proposing a ban on vaping products, Imperial Tobacco Canada wants to see the Canadian government mandate that all vapour products sold in the country be tamper-resistant so that users cannot mix the purchased vape liquid with any other substance.Shahab said the Government of Saskatchewan is looking at implementing legislation to treat vaping products like tobacco products — including restricted marketing — and expects to see some kind of vaping legislation come into effect this fall.The provincial government is encouraging anyone with questions about non-severe symptoms they may be experiencing due to vaping to contact the Healthline at 8-1-1 or talk to their health care provider. read more

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