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Health Canada launches campaign to educate teens on the health risks of vaping

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Health Canada is ramping up efforts to warn young Canadians about the potential risks associated with vaping, the agency said Thursday.
Spokeswoman Maryse Durette said the government body has launched a multi-phase campaign to tackle what it sees as an…


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  • Health Canada is ramping up efforts to warn young Canadians about the potential risks associated with vaping, the agency said Thursday.

    Spokeswoman Maryse Durette said the government body has launched a multi-phase campaign to tackle what it sees as an increasing problem among youth.

    “The vaping market is evolving rapidly, with the regular introduction of new products into Canada,” Durette said in a statement outlining the planned campaign. “We are aware of both anecdotal information and unpublished research showing increases in the rate at which Canadian youth are trying and using vaping products.”

    Durette said the first phase of the campaign got underway last month and featured paid and social media ads urging parents to start discussing vaping health risks with their kids.

    The next step, set to launch next month, is aimed squarely at the teens themselves. Durette said the campaign will feature both paid ads and hands-on learning events in high schools and community venues targeting youth between the ages of 13 and 18. Social media influencers will also be involved to help reach parents and teens alike, she added.

    Health Canada said much of the research around youth vaping is still in its early stages, adding it could not provide firm figures for Canadian vaping rates. But Durette said both unpublished research as well as international data paint an alarming picture.

    A study released in the U.S. last month prompted a warning from the country’s top physician amid reports that e-cigarettes and other vaping devices were undermining decades of declines in tobacco use.

    A federally funded University of Michigan study that’s been tracking teen substance use for more than four decades documented an unprecedented spike in the number of teens using e-cigarettes. The study, released last month, found the number of teens using the devices last year had doubled from the one before — the largest single-year increase in the survey’s 44-year history, far surpassing a mid-1970s surge in marijuana smoking.

    Separate U.S. government research found an estimated 3.6 million U.S. teens are now using e-cigarettes, representing one in five high school students and one in 20 middle schoolers.

    E-cigarettes and other vaping devices have been sold in the U.S. since 2007, growing into a US$6.6-billion business. Most devices heat a flavoured nicotine solution into an inhalable vapour.

    While research on the effects of vaping is still taking shape, officials in Canada and abroad have long cautioned that nicotine poses an elevated risk to youth.

    Durette said the Canadian government is prepared to take stronger action if necessary, saying it’s working on strengthening regulations around vaping and prepared to lend “scientific and policy support” for provinces or territories thinking of imposing restrictions of their own.

    “Health Canada has the authority to implement further measures to address the potential harms of vaping,” she said. “The department will not hesitate to propose further restrictions, should they prove necessary in light of the emerging data on youth vaping.”

    Several school boards report anecdotal evidence that vaping among students is on the rise, with one Ottawa-area institution recently making headlines for its efforts to address the trend.

    This week the principal of St. Joseph High School published a post on a school blog informing the community that bathroom doors would be removed in a bid to discourage vaping. Don Murphy also said the school will be issuing fines of up to $305 for those vaping indoors or visibly holding a vaping device.

    “I am extremely confident that the removal of washroom doors and the issuing of fines will discourage those tempted to vape, or smoke, indoors,” he said in the post.

    A spokeswoman for the Ottawa Catholic School Board said principals are entitled to establish “progressive discipline” to address issues at their schools.

    “The principal (Murphy) has been very open with his community, and his actions have received wide support from the students, staff, and parents,” Mardi de Kemp said of the new washroom door policy.

    School boards in Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver echoed the stance that vaping was barred on school property.

     

     

     

     

    Michelle McQuigge, The Canadian Press


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    Health

    ‘Dignity and wisdom’: Chief justice praises Gascon after final high-court case

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    OTTAWA — Supreme Court Justice Clement Gascon received a standing ovation Thursday after hearing his final case on the high court.
    Gascon graciously thanked his family and colleagues, saying it is an immense privilege to be a judge.
    Last month, Gascon,…


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  • OTTAWA — Supreme Court Justice Clement Gascon received a standing ovation Thursday after hearing his final case on the high court.

    Gascon graciously thanked his family and colleagues, saying it is an immense privilege to be a judge.

    Last month, Gascon, 58, announced plans to retire for unspecified personal and family reasons.

    He said this week he has long struggled with anxiety and depression, and while he has generally been able to manage the illness, it recently led to a difficult episode.

    Gascon said he suffered a panic attack before he briefly went missing May 8. He profusely apologized for the uncharacteristic absence, citing the effects of his difficult career decision and a change in medication.

    In the crowded courtroom Thursday, Chief Justice Richard Wagner praised Gascon as an exceptional person.

    “Our esteemed colleague has served Canadians with dignity and wisdom,” Wagner said. “His commitment and friendship will be missed.”

    Justice Sheilah Martin shed tears.

    Gascon officially steps down Sept. 15 but will continue to have input into judgments flowing from cases he has heard, as long as they are released within six months of his retirement date.

    Judgments released after mid-March will note that Gascon had no input into the decision.

    “My work as a judge is far from complete,” he said. “I can assure you that I will continue.”

    The Canadian Press


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    What are panic attacks and what causes them? A look at the issue

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    TORONTO — Supreme Court Justice Clement Gascon, who briefly went missing in Ottawa last week, recently explained that his disappearance was caused by a panic attack. Here’s a look at the science and the stigma around the issue:
    WHAT IS A PANIC ATTACK?


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  • TORONTO — Supreme Court Justice Clement Gascon, who briefly went missing in Ottawa last week, recently explained that his disappearance was caused by a panic attack. Here’s a look at the science and the stigma around the issue:

    WHAT IS A PANIC ATTACK?

    Andrew Jacobs, a psychologist with the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre, said panic attacks are “a sudden surge in anxiety or an uncomfortable feeling that go from zero to 60 within a few minutes.” Panic attacks are defined by a certain set of symptoms that can include increased heart rates, nausea, dizziness, shortness of breath, sweating and a fear the person is dying. Jacobs said a person must experience four out of 13 symptoms as defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

    WHAT CAUSES AN ATTACK?

    The Canadian Mental Health Association says panic attacks can be brought on by stress, fatigue or even excessive exercise. Jacobs says there are two types of panic attacks: cued and uncued. “Cued attacks happen as a result of someone already being very worried or fearful of something that can escalate into panic,” he said. “Uncued, which feels like the panic attacks come literally out of nowhere — it can even happen in the middle of sleep.” Gascon said in his statement that on the afternoon he went missing, he was affected by both a change in medication and a “heart-rending career decision.” He announced in September he plans to retire.

    HOW DOES A PERSON COPE WITH A PANIC ATTACK?

    There are many options for treating anxiety and panic attacks, including medication and counselling. One in particular is called cognitive behavioural therapy, or CBT. According to St. Joseph’s Healthcare in Hamilton, CBT can include such methods as confronting a feared situation, as well as breathing techniques and replacing anxious thoughts with realistic ones. In Gascon’s case, he said his recent episode had been “taken care of and treated with the necessary medical support.” 

    CAN YOU RETURN TO WORK AFTER A PANIC ATTACK?

    Gascon said in his statement that he is “fully capable” of performing his duties as a judge, and Chief Justice Richard Wagner said in his own statement that Gascon continues to have his “full support and confidence.” Jordan Friesen, the national director of workplace mental health at the Canadian Mental Health Association, said it should be “relatively simple” for Gascon to return to work, given that panic attacks tend to be time-limited. “I think the question becomes, for him and for his employer, is to understand what to do if a situation like that happens again,” said Friesen. “My hope would be that if he’s experiencing symptoms of a panic attack again that he’s able to go and identify this to his employer and seek appropriate support — much like you would if you were at work and started feeling ill with the flu.”

    HOW HAVE ATTITUDES TOWARD MENTAL HEALTH IN THE WORKPLACE CHANGED OVER THE YEARS?

    Last year, the family of late Supreme Court justice Gerald Le Dain went public with the story of his departure from the court in 1988, saying then-chief justice Brian Dickson forced Le Dain out after he was hospitalized with depression. A former top aide to Dickson had previously written that the decision was made because the Supreme Court had a heavy load at the time and could not handle being short a judge, but Le Dain’s family told CBC he would have returned after a short time off to recuperate. In contrast to the way Le Dain was allegedly treated, the response to Gascon’s public statement has been overwhelmingly positive. Wagner said Gascon’s explanation took courage, while Independent MP Jody Wilson-Raybould thanked him for sharing his struggle. Doron Gold, a former lawyer who now works as a psychotherapist with Homewood Health, said the response illustrates the way attitudes have shifted — though he added there’s still much work to be done. “Things are so much better than they used to be, and they’re so far away from where they should be,” said Gold.

    Adam Burns, The Canadian Press


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