Experts say one of the main reasons for this trend is the advertising and promotion that has been allowed
Still, the Canadian Cancer Society has called for “immediate government action” to focus on a significant increase in youth vaping in Canada. The move comes after a 2019 study from the University of Waterloo showed vaping among young people hiked 74% in one year.
“As time went by, I was transitioning vape-smoke, vape-smoke... First when I was vaping I quit smoking for three months and I just vape. Then I realized that I felt I wanted something stronger, like cigarettes,” says Apolinario.
The World Health Organization has previously cited several health concerns associated with vaping, pointing out that the long-term effects are unknown. However, nicotine in e-cigarettes is shown to be addictive and some sweeter flavors of e-cigarettes are irritants, potentially causing inflammation of the airways.
An additional concern recently is the addition of other chemicals into some vapes, such as the vitamin E acetate. The sticky chemical has been found in samples taken from people who got sick or died from vaping-related illness in the US
“The introduction of Juuls and the other pod like nicotine delivery devices, the availability of new types of flavors, convenience stores, and sort of the advertising that has been allowed at convenience stores until about a year and a half ago. It has contributed directly to the increase in youth,” says Chaiton.
“I vape when I'm at school… so unlike cigarettes when you go inside the room you’ll smell like tobacco or something like that, but if you vape they only can smell like sweet menthol or whatever flavor you have when you vape,” says Apolinario.
Nova Scotia and PEI have moved forward with flavor bans. By April 1, no retailer in Nova Scotia will be allowed to sell any flavored vaping product besides tobacco or unflavored e-cigarettes. PEI is currently under consultations on vaping restrictions, and the province’s Health Minister has promised to ban flavored products in the upcoming months.
Under Ontario’s plan, convenience stores and gas stations would no longer be allowed to sell flavored e-cigarettes. The government also wants to limit the nicotine content of any vaping product sold by retailers to 20 milligrams a milliliter. This is the same level the B.C. government has proposed.
Jamila Apolinario supports this move, and stresses that an early approach to these kinds of devices could predispose youth to be addicted to nicotine and other types of drugs.
“We are in a situation where we have many kids starting to vape and very few adults stopping using vapes. So we need to correct that balance. Banning flavors from e-cigarettes is one of the best ways of doing that,” says Chaiton.