Vaping Among Young Canadians on the Rise

Edited by Admin
Vaping Among Young Canadians on the Rise

Vaping Among Young Canadians

A new 2021 national study, conducted by the Lung Association of Nova Scotia with financial support from the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada and other partners, contains some shocking statistics about vaping among Canadians aged 18 to 24. Using a sample of more than 3,000 young people, researchers learned the following:

  • Respondents began vaping at an average age of fifteen.
  • On average, an e-cigarette user vapes six days per week, with approximately thirty vaping episodes per day.
  • Respondents spent between $13 and $22 per week on e- cigarettes.
  • The overwhelming majority of respondents have both used someone else’s e-cigarette and shared their e-cigarette with others.
  • Around half of all respondents had experienced a negative health effect related to vaping, and more than half have tried to quit vaping, with many making several attempts.
  • Almost all users began by using a flavoured vape juice at initiation. In most provinces, berry, mango, and mint/menthol were the most commonly reported flavours.
  • More than 60% of users used vape juice containing the highest possible concentrations of nicotine (50-60 mg/mL).

When vaping was first introduced to the North American market, it was presented as a safer alternative to inhaling tobacco cigarettes; it provided a hit of nicotine without the related risks from burning tobacco, which made it beneficial for smokers who trying to quit. Unit per unit, vaping is, in fact, less risky than cigarette smoking. However, few activities are more dangerous to your health than smoking cigarettes, so simply proclaiming that vaping is “safer” doesn’t mean that it is safe.

Switching from cigarettes to vaping may indeed provide benefits for a heavy smoker. However, the availability of these products has led to large numbers of young people, who would not otherwise smoke cigarettes, engaging in vaping. In addition, cannabis can be delivered by vape, creating a second layer of risk for adolescents. Nearly 40 per cent of 16- to 19-year-old Canadian teens reported trying e-cigarettes in a recent survey, and nearly one in ten said they vape weekly. A study published in a pediatric journal last year found that the use of vape devices among Canadian teenagers doubled between the years 2017 and 2019, a shocking statistic. This rise in the incidence of vaping means that many of our young people are exposing their developing brains to both nicotine and cannabis, and their lungs to a variety of toxins.

Marketing to Our Youth
When vaping was legalized in Canada, federal laws were put in place to discourage the promotion of vaping products to people under the age of 18, such as those that taste like candy, dessert, or pop. However, many manufacturers seem to have flouted these regulations in order to target the youth market. In 2019, the Globe and Mail talked to David Hammond, a public health researcher at the University of Waterloo. “The products and the way they’re marketed is appealing to young people in North America. You don’t have to be a researcher or a rocket scientist to figure it out,” said Hammond. “I would say if [the industry’s] intention has been to target adult smokers, it has been a very poorly executed campaign.”
Despite the ban on flavours that appeal to children, it’s relatively easy to find high-nicotine vape liquids with flavours such as birthday-cake or cotton candy in Toronto stores. Marketers also reach into social media sites popular with young people, with Instagram influencers paid to run contests sponsored by the e-cigarette industry, for example.

The Effects of Vaping on Young People

As is now commonly known, the human brain continues to develop until the mid-twenties, and any substance that affects the brain during development can create lasting damage. Regular vaping of nicotine or cannabis can lead to negative impacts on key brain functions like memory formation and impulse control. Vaping is also associated with increased risk of mental health issues like anxiety and depression. Addiction is another danger for young people who vape, since many vaping liquids have high concentrations of nicotine and cannabis. Youth can quickly develop a tolerance to these substances and a dependency on them. Frequent users may develop withdrawal symptoms after only a few hours, which can interfere with learning, sleep, and other activities.
Vaping devices heat the liquid to produce an aerosol, which contains potentially toxic chemicals and substances that can cause damage to the lungs. These include fine particles as well as flavouring chemicals like diacetyl, volatile compounds such as benzene, and even heavy metals like nickel, tin, and lead. While vaping is still too recent for us to have much information about the long-term effects of vaping on the lungs, it has been shown that these chemicals can lead to chronic cough, bronchitis, asthma exacerbation, pneumonia and an increased risk for Vaping Associated Lung Injury (VALI).

It’s not yet known whether vape manufacturers can be held responsible for their actions, although a lawsuit is currently before the courts in Canada. If you have suffered a vape-related injury or illness, contact a personal injury lawyer today.