Vaping and e-cigarettes have only been around about a decade, but they’ve been growing in popularity among both adults and teens in Canada.
You might have seen recent reports about vaping-related lung illnesses and deaths in the United States and one confirmed vaping-related lung illness in Canada. There is speculation about whether it’s a certain product, substance or additive causing the effects, but it’s too early to know. Even former CEO of JUUL (a popular e-cigarette company), Kevin Burns, agrees the long-term health effects of vaping are unknown and says people with no preexisting relationship with nicotine shouldn’t be using his company’s product.
A recent study shows vaping (inhaling the vapour from an e-cigarette) increased from 8 percent in 2017 to 15 percent in 2018 among 16- to 19-year-olds in Canada. Although this is a big jump in the number of teens who vape, it’s important to note that most teens still don’t vape. Results from the same study show that 85 percent of Canadian teens aren’t vaping.
All the uncertainty can make it tricky to know the facts about vaping and your health. It’s important to check your view about vaping and make health choices using facts, not beliefs.
Although we don’t know what the long-term health effects of vaping are, here is what we do know about how vaping can affect our health:
The aerosol from e-cigarettes is not harmless water vapour
Vaping aerosol contains chemicals that can harm your health, including:
- Tiny particles that can reach deep into your lungs and increase the risk of heart disease, lung cancer, and asthma attacks, and interfere with lung function
- Heavy metals (e.g., lead, mercury, nickel, copper) that can result in a variety of negative health effects like brain damage and cancer
- Chemicals in e-juice (e.g., diacetyl) flavouring that can damage the lungs when inhaled
Vaping nicotine can impact teen brain development
Although there is limited research to show the health effects of all the chemicals found in e-cigarettes, we do know what the health effects of nicotine are. Nicotine is known to alter teen brain development and impact memory and concentration. Nicotine use at a young age can also make it harder to learn, concentrate or control impulses.
Vaping can lead to nicotine addiction
Most e-cigarettes do contain nicotine. Nicotine is a highly addictive substance and can lead to dependence and nicotine addiction. Did you know that some labelled “0% nicotine” have actually been found to contain it?
JUUL sells e-cigarette products that contain up to 59 mg/ml of nicotine. To help put this into perspective:
- The maximum amount of nicotine allowed in an e-cigarette product in Canada is 66 mg/ml.
- 1 JUUL e-juice pod contains the same amount of nicotine as a pack of cigarettes.
Help us encourage teens to rely on facts, not beliefs
To help communicate some of these health risks of vaping to high school students, we worked with 16 other health units to launch an awareness campaign called Use Your Instincts. Keep an eye out for it on social media, transit shelters and in convenience stores. You can see the campaign here.