Vaping: A Health Epidemic

Talk to your teenager about risks

Author: Matthew Wild

August 20, 2019

Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in Canada and the U.S. - and is rising due to an exponential increase in youth vaping.

One in five deaths in Canada and the U.S. are smoking-related - that’s 45,000 Canadians and 480,000 Americans needlessly dying each year.

In addition, for every death there are at least 30 people struggling with serious smoking-related illnesses: chiefly cancers, cardiovascular diseases and respiratory conditions.

Knowledge of the range of smoking-related health problems has grown since the 1950s, publicized by government health campaigns. As the Centres for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention now states "smoking leads to disease and disability and harms nearly every organ of the body."

So who on earth would take up the habit in this day and age?

Teenagers are...

A June 2019 study led by Professor David Hammond of the University of Waterloo in Ontario found a 74 per cent increase in youth vaping in Canada the previous year, from 8.4 per cent to 14.6 per cent of all teens (this percentage could be higher, with the Durham Region Health Department stating 17 per cent of high school students are vaping in Oshawa, Ontario).

One in Five Teens Vaping

Possibly as many as one in five Canadian teens are using vapes (or e-cigarettes), and evidence suggests they are becoming addicted to nicotine and far more likely to smoke cigarettes.

Hammond’s study, published by the British Medical Journal, also found a corresponding rise in cigarette use among youth aged 16 to 19 - it’s up by 45 per cent!

Meanwhile, a similar study in the U.S., conducted by the CDC in 2018, found that vaping by high school students had jumped 78 per cent over the previous year, to 20.8 per cent of all students.

FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D. subsequently issued a statement that the agency will forcefully address “the rising use of e-cigarettes” among teens.

A Health Epidemic

"I now have good reason to believe that it’s reached nothing short of an epidemic proportion of growth," stated Dr. Gottlieb.

"I use the word epidemic with great care. E-cigs have become an almost ubiquitous ‒ and dangerous ‒ trend among teens. The disturbing and accelerating trajectory of use we’re seeing in youth, and the resulting path to addiction, must end."

The epidemic is not slowing. In January 2019, a National Institutes of Health study of more than 44,000 students in Michigan found that more than 37 per cent reported vaping within the past 12 months.

Vaping by teenagers is disturbing for a number of reasons. In the first instance, youth cigarette smoking had been steadily declining in Canada until 2017, when vaping took off. Although marketed as an aid for adult smokers to transition away from cigarettes, vapes appear to be introducing teenagers to nicotine addiction, and with it, cigarette smoking.

Chemical Aerosol

E-cigarettes produce vapour which looks like cigarette smoke, but is actually an aerosol or fine mist generated when an e-liquid is heated. This chemical aerosol contains a list of highly dangerous components, from flavour chemicals to metal contaminants from the vape unit, which travel deep into the lungs.

These ultrafine particles include formaldehyde (a known carcinogen), lead (a neurotoxin), diacetyl (a flavoring linked to an irreversible disease known as popcorn lung) and heavy metals.

The vast majority of North American teens are vaping nicotine, which in addition to being highly addictive, can harm adolescent brain development and may contribute to heart disease.

In other words, vape smokers are drawing in chemicals linked to cancer, lung and heart disease. And more likely to smoke regular cigarettes.

There is no safe smoking. And if you - or your teenager - are hooked on the habit, there is no time to quit like right now.

Quitting the easy way

According to the CDC, seven in 10 adult smokers want to quit.

Provincial and territorial governments across Canada run quit smoking programs, and the CDC in the States is also a useful resource. The Mayo Clinic provides useful information. Also check out Allan Carr’s approach for removing smokers’ fear of quitting, which removes the desire to smoke - outlined in this brief video documentary:

For more on this, visit the Allen Carr’s Easyway commercial site, which claims to be the world’s number one smoking cessation program



Matthew Wild

I wanted to be happier and more productive. After much searching, I found the key lay in focusing on my health – everything builds from there. I write to share best practices that can guide others on the journey to health, happiness and success.