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Pediatricians call for ban on flavoured vaping products — but Health Canada isn’t going there

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This is an excerpt from Second Opinion, a weekly roundup of eclectic and under-the-radar health and medical science news emailed to subscribers every Saturday morning. If you haven’t subscribed yet, you can do that by clicking here.


The Canadian Paediatric Society is calling for a ban on flavoured e-cigarettes after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) sounded the alarm on a rise in teen vaping, describing it as an “epidemic.”

The number of U.S. high school students who say they’ve used e-cigarettes in the last 30 days is 78 per cent higher this year than last year, according to the latest National Youth Tobacco Survey, a joint study by the FDA and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). For younger students in middle school, the increase was almost 50 per cent.

It all adds up to more than 3.6 million American minors using e-cigarettes in 2018 — 1.5 million more than in 2017, the FDA says.

“These data shock my conscience,” said FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb in a statement, noting that a big problem appeared to be “youth appeal and youth access to flavoured tobacco products.” 

The variety of candy, dessert and fruit flavours now available make vaping a sweet proposition for young people, says the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Like their Canadian colleagues, American pediatricians wanted a total ban on flavoured e-cigarettes. They were disappointed when, despite Gottlieb’s dramatic remarks, the FDA didn’t issue one.

“Flavours are really among the most compelling reasons that kids use these things. There have been some really robust studies,” said Dr. Rachel Boykan, a pediatrician in Stony Brook, N.Y., and member of the academy’s tobacco control executive committee.

Adolescents are especially susceptible to nicotine addiction through vaping, says Dr. Rachel Boykan, a pediatrician on the tobacco control executive committee of the American Academy of Pediatrics. (American Academy of Pediatrics)

Rather than an outright ban, the FDA said it is restricting where flavoured e-cigarettes can be sold. With the exception of mint or menthol, U.S. stores can only sell flavoured vaping products in areas where people under the age of 18 can’t enter.

So will Health Canada, which previously banned menthol cigarettes in an effort to curb tobacco use among youth, heed the call from pediatricians when it comes to e-cigarette flavours?

In short, no.

“While Canada and the U.S. have both recently regulated the vaping marketplace, the situation is not the same in the two countries,” Health Canada spokesperson Maryse Durette said in an email.

Health Canada bans “the promotion of flavours that may be appealing to youth, such as candy and dessert flavours,” Durette said.

But it will not ban the flavours themselves, she said. And it won’t implement restrictions on where those flavours can actually be sold, as the U.S. did. In addition to dedicated vaping stores, the products are available in Canadian gas stations and convenience stores.

‘Less harmful alternative’

Restrictions on flavours could hinder the point of approving vaping products in this country in the first place, Health Canada says — which is to reduce cigarette and cigar smoking.

“Flavours help make vaping liquids palatable to adult smokers seeking a less harmful alternative to tobacco,” Durette said. “Therefore, the use of flavours in vaping liquids is not prohibited under the TVPA [Tobacco and Vaping Products Act].”

The act prohibits retailers — in stores or online — from selling any kind of vaping products to youth under 18.

“Health Canada has a rigorous compliance and enforcement program in place to monitor vaping manufacturers’, importers’ and sellers’ compliance,” said Durette.

Not good enough, says the Canadian Paediatric Society.

“While we are pleased that several of our recommendations — specifically the bans on e-cigarette advertisements and merchandise that appeal to youth — are reflected in current Canadian laws, even stronger rules and enforcement are needed,” the society said in a statement.

Risk to teens

Whatever benefits e-cigarette flavours may offer adult smokers are outweighed by the harm they can do by attracting minors, argues Boykan.

Adolescents are more vulnerable than adults to addiction, Boykan said, and the e-cigarette “pods” that are popular now — such as those produced by vaping giant Juul Labs — have high concentrations of nicotine.

“They like this thing, they tried it, now they’re addicted,” she said.

In addition to the risk of addiction, nicotine is “really not safe for the adolescent brain,” Boykan said, noting that research suggests it has potential long-term effects on cognition and memory.

Another major concern is that once teens become dependent on nicotine, they may also turn to traditional cigarettes, threatening the trend that has seen youth smoking steadily decrease in both the U.S. and Canada.

“Health advocates have seen incredible success in curbing tobacco use and exposure to the harmful byproducts of smoking,” the Canadian Paediatric Society said. “Thoughtful legislation is needed to ensure that e-cigarettes do not undo much of that progress.”

Health Canada says it shares those concerns — but also issued a statement following the FDA’s findings this week that said “Canada has not seen a similar spike in the use of vaping products by youth.”

To back up that assertion, it cites the latest results of the Canadian Tobacco, Alcohol and Drugs Survey, saying that six per cent of Canadian youth between 15 and 19 reported recent use of e-cigarettes in 2017 — showing no increase from two years before.

A high school student in Cambridge, Mass., displays a vaping device that she has decorated with stickers. Schools and health officials across the U.S. are struggling to curb what they say is an ‘epidemic’ of underage vaping. (Steven Senne/Associated Press)

But that data was collected months before the vaping market opened up in Canada last spring, ushering in the recent arrival of Juul, which is a major U.S. supplier of sleek e-cigarette products.

Both the FDA and the CDC have specifically named Juul’s products as appealing to minors.

Is it possible that there’s been a dramatic increase in youth vaping that just hasn’t shown up in Health Canada’s numbers?

“Health Canada has a robust surveillance system in place, which will continue to closely monitor youth vaping in Canada as new products become available,” Durette said in response to that question.

The department started its latest round of data collection for vaping and tobacco use among students in Grades 7 to 12 in October, she said.

The Canadian Paediatric Society doesn’t want to wait for the results.

“The burden of clearly and accurately documenting the level of risk associated with e-cigarette use should be carried by the industry, and the government should not loosen or remove any precautionary restrictions until those risks are known,” it said.

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Post-vaccine surge? Michigan’s spring coronavirus case spike close to previous year’s autumn high

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(Natural News) The spike in new Wuhan coronavirus infections recorded in Michigan over the spring is similar to a spike seen during the 2020 fall season. According to a Wall Street Journal analysis, the state’s daily coronavirus case count averaged more than 7,000 for almost two weeks – before taking a slight dip to 6,891 on April 20. This echoed similar figures back in November and December 2020, which saw sharp rises in infections for those two months before plunging.

Back in autumn of last year, Michigan averaged more than 7,000 cases per day for a span of 10 days. New infections dropped slightly, then briefly spiked as the December holidays approached. It then fell to the low 1,000s for the succeeding two months – until ascending again in March.

According to University of Michigan internal medicine professor Dr. Vikas Parekh, the sudden increase in new infections could be attributed to several factors. Among the factors he cited was re-openings, which increased people’s interactions and mobility. Parekh said the loosened restrictions contributed to the spread of the highly contagious U.K. B117 variant.

“As the B117 variant spreads nationally, we will likely see other stats [with] their own surges – although I hope none are as bad as Michigan,” the professor remarked. He continued: “The milestone just tells us we are not yet in the clear, especially as we still have large portions of our population who are not vaccinated yet.”

Parekh also expressed optimism over the lower daily caseloads the Great Lakes State reported. He said he believes both cases and hospitalizations have plateaued and will likely decline soon. The professor commented: “[COVID-19] positivity has been declining now for one week, which is usually a leading indicator of case decline.”

Meanwhile, the state cited younger populations and youth sports, such as basketball, wrestling and hockey, to increase new COVID-19 infections. Because of this, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer called to suspend youth sports and indoor dining in the state. She also exhorted high schools to conduct remote class sessions for two weeks to curb the spread of the pathogen.

Michigan still experienced the spike in cases despite having one of the highest vaccination rates in the country

During the opening stages of the U.S.’s immunization drive against COVID-19, Michigan boasted of having one of the highest vaccination rates nationwide. A report by Bridge Michigan even noted the initial “frenzy for vaccines” that “far exceeded the state’s limited supply.” But things have appeared to turn around for Michigan, as it now struggles to reach the 70 percent vaccination rate needed for herd immunity.

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Scottish mom’s legs turn into a pair of “giant blisters” after first dose of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine

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(Natural News) Sarah Beuckmann of Glasgow, Scotland, felt a tingling sensation in her legs and noticed a rash flaring up around her ankles a week after getting her first dose of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine on March 18.

She also had flu-like symptoms right after the vaccination.

Beuckmann called her doctor to arrange an appointment the morning she noticed the rash, but by the afternoon her skin was already breaking out into blood-filled blisters. Blisters also appeared on her legs, hands, face, arms and bottom.

“I ended up asking my husband to take me to A&E,” said Beuckmann, referring to “accident and emergency,” the equivalent of an emergency room (ER). “When I got there, my heart rate was sitting at 160bpm, which they were very concerned about. I got put on an ECG machine.”

Doctors determine AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine triggers the rash

Medics carried out tests for HIV, herpes and other skin conditions to work out what triggered the rash, but all results came back negative. Doctors finally determined that the vaccine caused her rare reaction after carrying out two biopsies.

“Once they found that it was a reaction to the vaccine, they put me on steroids and that really seems to be helping my progress,” said Beuckmann. She had been advised by her doctor not to get the second dose of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine because of her reaction.

Beuckmann spent 16 days at Queen Elizabeth University Hospital. She was discharged to recover at home. The 34-year-old mother of one is currently wheelchair-bound due to the bandages on her legs and blisters on the soles of her feet. She may need physiotherapy to help strengthen her leg muscles.

“They are starting to heal and they’re looking a lot better than they were but as the blisters started to get worse, they all sort of merged together,” she said. “I didn’t know what was going on.”

With the blisters merging, her legs have looked like a pair of “giant blisters.” Beuckmann admitted that at one point she feared her legs might have to be amputated.

Dermatologist agrees COVID-19 vaccine causes the blisters

Dr. Emma Wedgeworth, a consultant dermatologist and spokeswoman at the British Skin Foundation, agreed that Beuckmann had likely suffered a reaction to the vaccine.

“Vaccines are designed to activate the immune system. Occasionally people will have quite dramatic activation of their immune systems which, as happened in this case, can manifest in their skin” Wedgeworth told MailOnline. “This poor lady had a very severe reaction, which thankfully is extremely rare.”

It is not clear why Beuckmann, who works in retail, was invited for a vaccine. Scotland’s vaccine rollout was focused on people over the age of 50 when she got vaccinated, although vaccines are available to those who are considered at risk from the virus, or live with someone considered vulnerable.

At least 20 million Briton have had AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine, which drug regulators say causes a rash in one percent of cases. They say rashes caused by the jab tend to go away within a week.

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Trojan labs? Chinese biotech company offers to build COVID testing labs in six states

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In 2012, BGI acquired Complete Genomics, a DNA sequencing company and equipment maker. The funds for the $117.6 million purchase were raised from Chinese venture capitals. The company has expanded its footprint globally. According to its website, BGI conducts business in more than 100 countries and areas and has 11 offices and labs in the U.S.

People are concerned about China’s access to American DNA data

Some said that with Complete Genomics providing an American base, BGI would have access to more DNA samples from Americans, helping it compile a huge database of genetic information. Some also worried about the protection of the genetic information’s privacy.

According to a 2019 report from the U.S.–China Economic and Security Review Commission (USCC), BGI “has formed numerous partnerships with U.S. healthcare providers and research organizations to provide large-scale genetic sequencing to support medical research efforts,”

There are three main reasons why many people in the biotech community and government have expressed concerns about China’s access to American DNA data.

In the “60 Minutes” interview, Evanina discussed the very likely scenario in which Chinese companies would be able to micro-target American individuals and offer customized preventative solutions based on their DNA.

Evanina asked: “Do we want to have another nation systematically eliminate our healthcare services? Are we okay with that as a nation?”

The second concern is that China may use DNA to track and attack American individuals. As the USCC report states: “China could target vulnerabilities in specific individuals brought to light by genomic data or health records. Individuals targeted in such attacks would likely be strategically identified persons, such as diplomats, politicians, high-ranking federal officials or military leadership.”

The third concern is that China may devise bioweapons to target non-Asians. Steven Mosher, president of the Population Research Institute, discussed it in his article “What Will China Do With Your DNA?” published by The Epoch Times in March 2019.

He wrote: “We know that the Asian genome is genetically distinct from the Caucasian and African in many ways. … Would it be possible to bioengineer a very virulent version of, say, smallpox, that was easily transmitted, fatal to other races, but to which the Chinese enjoyed a natural immunity? … Given our present ability to manipulate genomes, if such a bio-weapon can be imagined, it can probably – given enough time and resources – be realized.”

An article from Technocracy said: “China’s aggressive collection of American DNA should be doubly alarming because it can only spell one ultimate outcome: biowarfare. That is, genetically engineering viruses or other diseases that will be selectively harmful to U.S. populations.”

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