Vaping among Canadian teens spiked 74 per cent in one year: study

In May 2018, Ottawa formally legalized vaping, opening the door for international vaping brands

New research suggests vaping among Canadian teens skyrocketed by 74 per cent in a single year, and that new brands of e-cigarettes are gaining a foothold following federal legislation.

University of Waterloo professor David Hammond, who led the study of youth vaping in Canada, the U.S. and the U.K., said the findings reflect the risks of the “newest evolution of vaping.”

ALSO READ: B.C. MLA wants to ban sale of flavoured nicotine juice to stop teens from vaping

The researchers say an online survey found the number of Canadian participants aged 16 to 19 who reported vaping in the previous month rose from 8.4 per cent in 2017 to 14.6 per cent last year.

Rates of weekly use climbed to 9.3 per cent from 5.2 per cent over the same time period.

In May 2018, Ottawa formally legalized vaping, opening the door for international vaping brands — some backed by big tobacco companies — to enter the Canadian market.

Weeks after becoming available in Canada, some of these vaping brands ranked among the most popular with teens, along with similar high-nicotine products, said Hammond. In the U.S., researchers found parallels between the rise of these brands and a surge in youth vaping, he said.

The study also indicated that conventional cigarette use among participants increased from 10.7 per cent in 2017 to 15.5 per cent the following year, deviating from decades of research suggesting youth smoking in Canada was on the decline, Hammond said.

Hammond said he hopes the results are just a “blip,” but said it would be worrisome if other studies came to the same conclusion.

The research paper published Wednesday in the British Medical Journal is based on two waves of online surveys conducted in Canada, the U.S. and the U.K. in July and August 2017 and August and September 2018. Data was collected from a sample of 7,891 Canadians recruited through commercial panels.

The polling industry’s professional body, the Marketing Research and Intelligence Association, says online surveys cannot be assigned a margin of error because they do not randomly sample the population.

E-cigarettes can be an effective tool for adult smokers trying to quit, but Hammond said policy-makers need to be proactive in preventing young Canadians from picking up the habit.

“What the government and public-health authorities need to do is find some balance to allow adult smokers to have access to these products, without creating a new generation of nicotine users,” Hammond said. “We haven’t got that balance right yet.”

Rob Cunningham, senior policy analyst at the Canadian Cancer Society, said the government must take immediate action to level the scales.

“Clearly, the current situation is not working,” said Cunningham. “Therefore, we need to move quickly.”

Cunningham said Ottawa needs to tighten up advertising rules for vaping products to make them at least as restrictive as those for cannabis.

Federal legislation allows for some advertising of vaping products, but promotions targeted at youth are prohibited.

In January, Health Canada proposed new measures to bar these advertisements from venues where young people are likely to be exposed to them, including public places, retail stores and youth-oriented media. It also launched a multi-phase campaign to educate teens about the risks associated with vaping at a young age.

A spokesperson for Health Canada could not immediately be reached for comment.

Cunningham also urged federal lawmakers to strengthen regulations on the use of flavoured vaping products, and said provinces should ban their sale except in adult-only specialty stores.

Most provinces have legislation on vaping products, and Cunningham said the only two outliers, Alberta and Saskatchewan, must follow suit.

He also called on provincial governments to follow many U.S. states in raising the minimum age to purchase tobacco and e-cigarettes to 21. As it stands, anyone 18 and over can purchase vaping or tobacco products in Canada.

“We have made such incredible progress to reduce youth smoking, and now we have a situation whereby a new generation of teenagers are becoming addicted to vaping products,” he said. “We cannot stand still and allow that to happen.”

Adina Bresge, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Haida Nation reminds ‘select few’ fishing lodges that Haida Gwaii is closed to non-essential travel

‘Upholding Haida law amid COVID-19’ release comes one day before Queen Charlotte Lodge plans to reopen

PHOTOS: ‘Phengnominal’ gnome house constructed in Port Clements

‘Ms. Gnomer’s Home 4 Wayward Folk,’ created by Kelly Whitney-Gould, a hit for kids and loggers alike

Councillor resigns mid-term in Queen Charlotte

Richard Decembrini’s resignation announced at regular meeting on July 6

Feds announce $8.3M to deal with ‘ghost’ fishing gear in B.C. waters

Three projects on the North Coast awarded funding

Skidegate band members donate 400 pounds of salmonberries

More than 45 band members participated in first-ever Salmonberry Picking Contest on June 28

B.C. identifies 20 new COVID-19 cases, travellers specified in count

Pandemic total 3,028 cases, 51 people from outside Canada

Large rogue floating ‘island’ corralled by Lac la Hache residents

At least 60 feet wide, this large mass of plants is free-floating on the lake

B.C. residents can go to the Royal BC Museum for half price this summer

Museum reopening in phases, COVID-19 measures in place

Filing deadline in RCMP sexual-harassment class-action extended due to COVID-19

Plaintiffs now have until January 2021 to submit claims for up to $222,000

Jamie Bacon pleads guilty to charge in Surrey Six case

The plea brings an end to a complex legal case that has spanned more than a decade

Hefty undeclared driver charges piling up, ICBC warns customers

Average extra penalty $2,971 after an at-fault accident

Survey, hotline launched amid probe into racist blood-alcohol guessing game at B.C. hospital

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond has been appointed to lead an investigation by Health Minister Adrian Dix

B.C. appeals judge’s decision to leave three clubhouses in Hells Angels hands

The province has filed two notices of appeal related to the B.C. Supreme Court decision

Conservation officers relocate Spirit bear known to roam northwestern B.C.

Bear roamed valley north of Terrace for many years

Most Read