Vancouver, BC – With trendy devices and enticing flavours like gummy bear and cotton candy, it’s easy to understand why youth are attracted to vaping. Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) is concerned the young e-cigarette users of today don’t know the risks of vaping, and could become the tobacco smokers of tomorrow. Their gateway product is the e-cigarette.
“We’re seeing the classic signs of nicotine addiction in young people who vape; they can’t concentrate in school, they’re irritable, and they don’t recognize they are experiencing nicotine withdrawal,” says VCH Tobacco Reduction Coordinator Lindsay MacDonald. “We have a limited window of opportunity to reach young people who use e-cigarettes because studies show 99% of people who become addicted to nicotine do so before the age of 26, while the brain is still developing.”
World No Tobacco Day May 31 is a good opportunity to have conversations and seek out information about the health effects of e-cigarette and tobacco use.
“Data indicates youth who vape may be at higher risk of smoking,” says Dr. Meena Dawar, a Medical Health Officer at Vancouver Coastal Health. “Even youth who have no interest in smoking may find that vaping leads them to trying tobacco.”
Results of the 2018 BC Adolescent Health Survey found 21 per cent of BC students had vaped with nicotine in the past month. Preliminary results from the International Tobacco Control, Youth Tobacco and Vaping Survey show an increase in the number of 16- to 19-year-olds who are vaping. The Canadian Student Tobacco, Alcohol and Drugs Survey (CSTADS) from 2016-2017 found that 15 per cent of students in grades 10-12 used a vaping product in the past month, up 64 per cent from the previous year.
“The long term health effects of vaping are unknown,” says Dr. Dawar. “The chemicals in some products are not safe when inhaled.”
VCH’s Tobacco Reduction Team is active in schools, providing information to students and educators. Four North Vancouver schools recently participated in the Consider the Consequences tour, an interactive Health Canada awareness initiative that is travelling the country to educate youth on the facts about e-cigarette use so they can make informed choices.
Vancouver Coastal Health is responsible for the delivery of $3.3 billion in community, hospital and long term care to more than one million people in communities including Richmond, Vancouver, the North Shore, Sunshine Coast, Sea to Sky corridor, Powell River, Bella Bella and Bella Coola. VCH also provides specialized care and services for people throughout BC, and is the province’s hub of health care education and research.
Public Affairs Leader
Vancouver Coastal Health
Office: (604) 708-5340
Cell: (604) 312-1148