A campaign group called Vapor Advocates of Ontario has hit out at the public health lobby for spreading “misinformation and fear” about the effects of vaping.

A coalition of public health lobbyists has gathered on parliament hill in Ottawa today to pile pressure on Health Canada to clamp down on youth vaping.

It follows confirmation of Canada’s first publicized vaping illness, regarding a patient in London, Ontario. That is linked to a wider trend that has seen seven deaths and many more illnesses across the U.S.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control has activated its Emergency Operations Center in response. Researchers are looking into 380 cases of Americans falling ill as a result of using e-cigarettes to vape CBD, THC, or nicotine.

New York has banned flavoured e-cigarettes, the U.S. federal government is poised to outlaw them and India has just banned them. Public health lobbyists are now calling on Health Canada to follow suit.

Ottawa’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Vera Etches is asking Health Canada for stricter regulations on all vaping products. She wants to see the flavours that appeal to youth decreased, health warnings ramped up and more information on packs, following the approach taken with cigarettes.

The Board of Health is backing this stance, and Etches’ recommendations have gone to Health Canada for review. Lobbyists are putting pressure on it to uphold the recommendations, but the Vapor Advocates of Ontario have hit back.

“The announcement of Dr. Etches and Ottawa Public Health about the safety of nicotine vaping products is not rooted in evidence,” said spokesperson Maria Papaioannoy-Duic. “Before we jump to conclusions and start writing sweeping and damaging policies, we need to look at what is really going on.”

VAO argued that flavoured vape products have been on the Canadian market for more than a decade and they have helped thousands of adult smokers quit tobacco consumption, without any illnesses or deaths. It said it would be irresponsible for governments to believe a ban would have an impact on illicit vaping of THC products.

Canada is set to legalize cannabis vapes and other concentrates for recreational purposes by the end of the year.