The facts about vaping and health
This past summer, news media began reporting on a series of acute and severe lung illnesses in the United States linked to the use of vaping products, and more recently vaping-related illnesses have been reported in Canada. While public health authorities are examining possible risk factors for these illnesses, the exact cause is still under investigation.
Vaping devices come in many shapes and sizes and can have attractive flavours that appeal to youth. Some devices resemble small everyday items like USB sticks and pens. Vaping devices are known under a variety of names such as:
- vape pens
- tank systems
- electronic cigarettes / e-cigarettes
- electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS)
E-cigarettes and vaping products are not harmless. By heating a liquid they produce an aerosol which may contain substances such as nicotine, cannabis, heavy metals, volatile organic compounds and some cancer-causing agents which have negative effects on your health. Nicotine is a highly addictive substance, and while not all vaping products contain nicotine, the majority of them do and the levels of nicotine can vary widely. Youth are especially vulnerable to its negative effects, as nicotine can alter their brain development, memory and concentration and lead to nicotine addiction. Moreover, vaping can affect the respiratory and cardiovascular systems.
Studies have shown increasing rates of vaping among youth, which is a major public health concern as it is linked to initiation of smoking in this population. Health Canada acknowledges that vaping is a less harmful option than smoking when vaping products are used to quit smoking tobacco. However, the effectiveness of vaping products as a smoking cessation aid is still being researched.
Vaping is not without risk.
- Non-smokers, people who are pregnant and young people should not vape.
- People who vape should seek support to quit.
- People who use vaping products are advised to avoid any products from illegal or unregulated sources and should never modify vaping products or add any substances to these products that are not intended by the manufacturer.
- While the cause of severe pulmonary illnesses related to vaping is still under investigation, legal products are not considered risk free.
Individuals who use vaping products should monitor themselves for signs of respiratory illness and seek medical attention if they develop symptoms such as cough, shortness of breath and chest pain.
For further information on vaping, please visit:
Health Canada, Vaping & Awareness Campaign