Vaping among Canadian teens is a crisis, say doctors
Health experts and anti-smoking groups are hoping the federal government to do more to keep young people from taking up a dangerous habit.
Teen vaping is on the rise in Canada, and Quebec is no exception.
“The product is attractive. It's very easy to use. You've got a very high dose of nicotine. And they taste good. This is the cocktail you need to make the product attractive and popular among youth,” said Flory Doucas of the Quebec Coalition for Tobacco Control.
As many as one in four Canadian teens have tried vaping, and those numbers are rising.
“Vaping has almost erased all the gains we've made over the past 20 years with reduction in cigarette consumption amongst adolescents and amongst the population as a whole,” said Dr. Julius Erdstein of the Montreal Children’s Hospital.
Doctors are calling it a crisis.
Health Canada recently launched a campaign warning young Canadians about the potential health risks associated with vaping. It has also announced stricter regulations in November to ban vapes with exciting shapes and sounds, and restrict the promotion of flavours like candy and soft drinks.
Too little, too late, said Erdstein.
“Cannabis is dangerous to teenage brain development; nicotine is dangerous to brain development and some of the other substances that are in the vape that we really don’t know that much about probably have health risks as well,” he said.
Quebec's rules around marketing vaping products are stricter than in other provinces, but manufacturers are also using social media and that's more difficult to control.
Teens themselves are hyping vape products online, by sharing videos of vaping tricks.
Many high schools are struggling with the matter: Last week, College Citoyen, a private school in Laval, expelled six students who were involved in selling e-cigarettes on campus. Students used Snapchat and Instagram to market the products they were selling.
A product that was designed to help adults quit smoking may be causing a whole new generation to get hooked, said Doucas.
“That's come at the expense of Canada's youth and really the collateral damage here is youth,” she said. “It's come with a huge price.”