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A high-school-aged youth has been diagnosed with “severe respiratory illness,” and was on life support, but is now recovering, said Dr. Christopher Mackie, CEO of the health unit, in a press conference Wednesday. Mackie declined to specify the brand of the vape used and whether it contained cannabis. Seven deaths have been reported in the U.S., in cases mainly involving black-market vapes that contained THC, the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis. (The Logic, Gizmodo)

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Talking point: Health Canada issued a vaping warning two weeks ago amid reports of the U.S. cases, advising users to monitor themselves for symptoms of pulmonary illness, like coughing and shortness of breath. Canada legalized vaping in May 2018, and the usage of e-cigarettes among teens has risen by 74 per cent since then, according to a University of Waterloo study. Health Canada is currently considering new restrictions on advertising to curb youth vaping, including on social media and at checkout in stores. It’s also considering adding more flavours to its banned list, which currently includes confectionary, dessert, cannabis, soft drink and energy drink flavours. In the U.S., President Donald Trump has stepped into the regulatory process, ordering the Food and Drug Administration to ban all flavoured e-cigarettes.

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Fifteen per cent of people aged 15 to 19 reported having vaped in the preceding 30 days; 36 per cent of them said they’d tried vaping at some point in their lives, according to a Statistics Canada report. Among Canadians between 20 and 24, 15 per cent had also vaped in the last 30 days, and 48 per cent had ever tried it. The percentage of recent vapers dropped to less than three per cent among adults 25 and older; 12 per cent in that age group had ever vaped. (The Logic)

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Talking point: The study, conducted in 2019, reaffirms an increase in youth vaping in the past few years. A 2017 study from the University of Waterloo found that 8.4 per cent of Canadians aged 16 to 19 had tried vaping that year; by 2018, 14.6 per cent of people in that demographic had vaped. Though U.K. medical authorities are more bullish on vaping’s potential as a smoking deterrent for adults, North American lawmakers have started cracking down on e-cigarette companies, especially on marketing to young people. That’s included bans on flavoured vaping products, which tend to appeal more to teens. As more evidence emerges on the prevalence of vaping among young people, e-cigarette companies are under pressure to retool their business models. The Logic reported last month that industry leader Juul has applied for a patent on technology it claims can help wean users off nicotine, and the firm has said it plans to add a feature to its devices that would lock out U.S. users under the age of 21.

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After a rash of vaping-related illnesses and deaths in the U.S. and beyond, scientists at King’s College London have found that vaping adoption has stopped growing—with an increasing number of smokers believing the practice is more harmful than smoking. This contention is out of line with research showing the use of regulated nicotine vaping products is far less harmful than smoking cigarettes. (The Logic)

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Talking point: The vaping industry hasn’t fared well as of late. The valuation of Juul Labs, the industry leader, is collapsing under a mountain of lawsuits and regulation over health risks associated with vaping. It has pulled flavoured vaping products from some markets in an attempt to get ahead of changing public opinion. Yet this report, commissioned by Public Health England, suggests the worries about vaping are overblown when compared to smoking, from which about 78,000 British people die every year. It further delineates the difference in opinion between U.K. and North American medical experts on the subject.

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The tobacco giant now values the vaping company at roughly US$12 billion, down from the US$38-billion valuation that saw it pay US$12.8 billion in cash for a 35 per cent stake in the company in December 2018. Altria had already written down its investment by US$4.5 billion in October 2019. (The Wall Street Journal)

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Talking point: Altria CEO Howard Willard said he was “highly disappointed” in the performance of the company’s investment. Since it bought in, e-cigarette manufacturers have faced lawsuits and increased regulatory pressure amid public health concerns and worries about vaping’s attractiveness to young people. Juul has tried to get ahead of the backlash; as my colleague Murad reported earlier this month, its Canadian subsidiary has temporarily stopped producing most flavours of its vaping pods—believed to be particularly appealing to the teens—in an attempt at “earning the trust of society.” That decision came after the parent company’s removal of most flavoured pods from the U.S. market over the last two years, in the lead-up to a federal ban. Altria also announced it will stop providing Juul with marketing and retail distribution, offering assistance with regulatory wrangling instead. Its shares were down nearly five per cent in late-day trading.

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Fruit- and dessert-flavoured vaping products will be prohibited as the U.S. government tries to curb youth vaping and lung injuries linked to e-cigarettes. Menthol- and tobacco-flavoured products will still be permitted; so will open-tank vaping systems, which let users mix their own vaping liquids. Manufacturers, distributors and retailers will have to comply with the new rules within 30 days or face fines from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). (Reuters, The New York Times)

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Talking point: The president said in September 2019 that he planned to ban sweet-flavoured products, which tend to appeal most to kids and non-smokers, but walked back the proposed restrictions after advisers and lobbyists said it would hurt his popularity among voters. Evidence has been mounting since that e-cigarettes are harmful and attractive to young people who might otherwise refrain from smoking. Several jurisdictions—including Canada’s Nova Scotia, B.C. and Ontario—have introduced their own laws to address the problems linked to vaping. The new U.S.-wide FDA rules are the most sweeping regulations yet in the country. Health professionals in Canada have pressured the federal government to take similarly broad steps; Health Canada proposed banning vaping ads in December, but hasn’t gone so far as to restrict products.