Vaping and Your Health
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Electronic cigarettes, also known as e-cigs or vapes, are battery-powered devices that heat liquid (e-liquid) into a vapour that is inhaled by the user.
Here’s what you should know about these products:
- Ingredients in the e-liquid vary from product to product, but are usually made up of propylene glycol, glycerin, flavouring, and in many cases highly addictive nicotine.
- E-cigarettes are available in many shapes and sizes, and simulate the act of smoking.
- They can also be used to vapourize cannabis.
- E-liquid can be produced in almost any flavour, these flavours can be attractive to youth and can attract non-smokers to try e-cigarettes.
The potential health risks of vaping are not yet known because these products have not been on the market long enough to study the short- and long-term health effects. People who do not smoke should not start vaping.
Some ingredients in e-liquid include propylene glycol and diacetyl which can irritate the lungs. The most common side effects of using e-cigarettes are:
- sore throat
- dry cough
The production of vapour products is not controlled, which means these products are not completely checked for safety and quality by Health Canada. Vapour from these products can contain formaldehyde and heavy metals like cadmium, nickel, zinc, and lead.
Vapour released into the air can result in second-hand exposure to vapour compounds. For more information on the risks of vaping visit Health Canada’s website.
Under the Smoke-Free Ontario Act, 2017 it is illegal to:
- Sell or supply of e-cigarettes to persons under the age of 19.
- Use of an e-cigarette to vape any substance in all enclosed public spaces and enclosed workplaces, as well as additional prohibited places, such as children’s playgrounds, on and within 20 metres from the perimeter of school grounds and recreational facility property, and on and within 9 metres of bar/restaurant patios.
It’s also important to be aware of local municipal by-laws that further restrict areas where vaping is permitted.
Since many e-juices contain nicotine, those who do not smoke, should not start vaping. It’s more important for some individuals especially youth, young adults, pregnant women, and those planning on becoming pregnant should avoid the use of e-cigarettes and exposure to second-hand vapour.
From August 2017 to August 2018 there was a 74% increase in vaping among youth aged 16-19 years in Canada, with vaping increasing from 8.4% to 14.6% in the past 30 days.1 Studies have shown that teens who use vapour products are more likely to start smoking tobacco and smoke more intensely.1,2,3
The young brain is still developing making it more at risk to nicotine. Using e-cigarettes that contain nicotine can lead to a nicotine addiction. Nicotine like cannabis can harm parts of the brain that help people learn, concentrate, and control impulses.
1. Hammond D, Reid JL, Rynard VL, Fong GT, Cummings KM, McNeill A, et al. Prevalence of vaping and smoking among adolescents in Canada, England, and the United States: repeat national cross-sectional surveys. BMJ 2019 Jun 20;l2219.
2. Boak, A. Hamilton, H. A., Adalf, E. M., & Mann, R. E. (2017). Drug use among Ontario students, 1977-2017: Detailed findings from the Ontario Student Drug Use and Health Survey
3. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. (2018). Public health consequences of e-cigarettes.Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.17226/24952
Do you want to talk to your teen about vaping? Try the following tips:
- Inform yourself about vaping products and their risks. Discuss the facts with your teens and correct any of their misconceptions.
- Don’t be afraid to get support. Ask a healthcare provider to talk to your teen. You can also encourage teens to talk to other trusted adults like family members, teachers, or coaches who are aware of these products and their risks.
- Don’t expect to have just one conversation. As your teen grows, conversations might change. You may find that they lead to other important discussions around alcohol, cannabis, tobacco, or other risky health behaviours.
Visit the following links for more information about vaping: