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In this Aug. 28, 2019, file photo, a man exhales while smoking an e-cigarette in Portland, Maine. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty, File)

CALGARY ­– Headed by Calgary-Klein MLA Jeremy Nixon, the province is launching a review of Alberta’s vaping regulations, starting Nov. 1. 

The review is expected to be completed by the end of this year and changes to the province’s tobacco and smoking legislation will be proposed in the spring of 2020. 

“Like most Albertans, I’m concerned about the rising use of vaping products, especially among young people, and recent reports of severe lung disease associated with these products,” Health Minister Tyler Shandro said at a press conference in Calgary. 

“We need evidence-based regulation of tobacco and related products, including vaping products.”

Alberta has the second highest rate of smoking in Canada, Shandro said, and the number of smokers has tripled in the province since 2014.

Alberta and Saskatchewan are currently the only two provinces left in Canada without vaping legislation. Saskatchewan announced in late August it would plan to introduce laws in the fall, making Alberta the last province to do so. 

Alberta Health Services (AHS) continues to monitor the experiences of others provinces and has looked into recent reports of serious respiratory illnesses in the U.S. that been linked to vaping.

According to the U.S. Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, vaping-related illnesses have already affected more than 450 people and killed five.  As a result, AHS has now made it mandatory for doctors to report any cases of severe pulmonary disease related to vaping. 

AHS also has plans to combat the use of tobacco or vaping products in classrooms this fall. Online "escape rooms" and new lesson plans are part of an anti-vaping strategy in middle schools across the province.  The pilot program will launch in select schools in November.

The department said the strategies will focus on helping students develop social and competence skills such as problem solving, decision making, critical thinking, media literacy, and coping skills, which research has shown is the "strongest approach to tobacco."

After five weeks, teachers and students will be surveyed about the pilot and their feedback will shape the official program. AHS has not confirmed which schools will participate in the pilot.