October 11, 2019
We are increasingly concerned by the substantial rise of vaping among Canadian youth. As nicotine in any form is highly addictive, non-smokers who vape products containing nicotine are at risk of going on to use tobacco products such as cigarettes.
As we stated in April 2019, Canada has seen the rates of youth smoking decline significantly in recent years, but youth are now turning to vaping in large numbers. We are very concerned that a new generation of youth addicted to nicotine will lead to a resurgence in smoking—reversing decades of progress and creating new public health problems.
Youth are particularly susceptible to nicotine’s negative effects, which can include altering their brain development and affecting their memory and concentration.
While the harms of vaping products are starting to emerge, researchers are still gathering data on their potential effectiveness as a means of helping smokers quit smoking. What we do know is that, regardless of a person’s age, vaping can lead to nicotine addiction and can increase exposure to harmful chemicals for people who are non-smokers.
Individuals who use vaping products breathe in a mixture of chemicals, which include harmful and potentially harmful substances such as nicotine, solvents, cancer-causing chemicals (e.g., formaldehyde), heavy metals and flavourings. It is also not clear what underlying risk there may be from inhalation of ultra-fine particles created by the mechanism of vaping technology that permits inhalation deep into the lung.
Some chemicals (e.g., flavourings) in vaping products may be safe to eat, but have not necessarily been tested for safety when inhaled. Limited information is available on the health effects of inhaling glycerol (a common vaping diluent) and the majority of flavourings used in vaping liquids.
We cannot stand by and watch a new generation of Canadians become dependent on nicotine or be exposed to products that could have significant negative consequences for their health.