ASLEEP AT THE WHEEL AGAIN

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Last Friday, we touched on the very sensitive issue of school bullying and the lack of definitive steps by authorities to tackle it head-on. Bullying has been left to fester and has now seemingly become a matter that can no longer be controlled via simple means, much like crime. While it has always existed in schools, offices and everywhere else for that matter, nipping it in the bud, as they say, is the only possible way to prevent bullying from being carried over to adulthood where it manifests itself in other ways, including criminal activity. Why isn’t the Education Minister being more proactive in this matter that is clearly a huge problem in schools?

But the Minister of Education doesn’t seem to be the only one asleep at the wheel when it comes to matters affecting our youth. Where is the Health Minister’s voice on the very scary and deadly vaping issue that has been making headlines for the last few weeks in the United States especially? While there has been concern for several years now over the hidden effects of smoking these electronic cigarettes, things came to a head in August when hundreds of youngsters fell gravely ill with severe respiratory damage from using these devices. Six deaths have been recorded so far that are directly related to vaping. Recently as well, it was uncovered that a number of underground manufacturers of the vaping chemicals, referred to as e-juice, have started including dangerous chemicals in the concoctions causing serious health issues for many. THC, the active ingredient in cannabis is among the substances being used in the illegal trade, resulting in devastating damage to the very young especially.

There is no doubt that vaping and all of the paraphernalia that comes with it are targeted at adolescents. Concoctions with names and flavours such as cotton candy and various fruity titles are clearly in the ballpark of the teen population. The U.S. government has taken note of these developments and has taken stringent measures to control it. The Trump administration is moving to ban flavoured e-cigarettes, including mint and menthol flavours, that it knows are targeted at teenagers. Intensive investigations are also continuing into what is causing these youngsters to fall ill and die in some cases.

Now, here at home, where vaping among youngsters and the industry in general is mostly unregulated, like most other things, we are wondering if this potentially deadly issue is ever going to be addressed or even acknowledged. There are advertisements in the media claiming that vaping is safer than smoking cigarettes and all flavours of e-juice are pedalled without concern. Is the Education Ministry aware of how many children are smoking e-cigarettes at school? Are health authorities even aware that similar problems with vaping among teens exists here too or are they waiting for a few deaths before they wake up? Is the ‘Zesser Pill’ the only concern because of a viral video? Who exactly is awake at the wheel?