Vaping and E-cigarettes

Contact(s)

Lung Injury Associated with Vaping

The North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit, with information from Health Canada (HC) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is advising individuals who vape to watch for signs of lung illness (e.g., cough, shortness of breath, chest pain) and to get medical help if these signs occur.

Individuals who vape are breathing in a mix of addictive chemicals, solvents, cancer-causing chemicals (e.g., formaldehyde), heavy metals and flavourings.  Flavourings may be safe to eat, but have not necessarily been tested for safety when inhaled. The long-term effects are unknown.

As of October 17, 2019, four “confirmed or probable” cases of lung injury associated with vaping have been identified in Canada: one in Quebec, two in New Brunswick and one in British Columbia.  Many more cases are suspected to be related to vaping in Canada, including one in London, Ontario.

In Ontario, hospitals are now responsible for reporting suspected or confirmed lung injury cases associated with vaping directly to the Chief Medical Officer of Health.

As of October 15, 2019, in the United States there have been approximately 1,500 cases of lung injuries associated with vaping and 33 deaths reported to the CDC. All patients have reported a history of using e-cigarette, or vaping, products. Many have indicated they were vaping cannabis. No consistent evidence of an infectious cause has been discovered. The injuries are likely related to a chemical exposure, but the specific chemical exposure is unknown at this time.

Health Unit’s recommendations:

  • While this investigation is ongoing, we recommend you think about not using e-cigarettes or vaping products, particularly those containing THC.
  • If you are an adult who uses e-cigarettes containing nicotine to quit cigarette smoking, do not return to smoking cigarettes.
  • If you have recently used an e-cigarette or vaping product and you have symptoms such as, cough, shortness of breath, or chest pain, see a healthcare provider.
  • Regardless of the ongoing investigation:
    • Anyone who uses e-cigarette, or vaping, products should not buy these products (e.g., e-cigarette or vaping products with THC or CBD oils) from informal sources (e.g. friends, family members) or “off the street,” and should not change or add any substances to these products that are not intended by the manufacturer.
    • Youth and young adults should not use e-cigarettes or vaping products.
    • Women who are pregnant should not use e-cigarettes or vaping products.
    • Adults who do not currently use tobacco products should not start using e-cigarettes or vaping products.
    • THC use has been associated with a wide range of health effects, particularly with prolonged heavy use. The best way to avoid potentially harmful effects is to not use THC, including through e-cigarettes or vaping products.

Quitting Smoking?

Although vaping is potentially less harmful than smoking, it still has health risks. Find resources to help you quit smoking.

For more information on vaping-related lung injury, please refer to these trusted sources:

Health Canada 

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 

Electronic cigarettes

Electronic cigarettes – also called e-cigarettes, e-cigs, vapes, mods and pens – are tobacco industry products. They are battery-powered devices that heat a liquid (known as e-juice, e-liquid or vape juice) to turn it into aerosol. Users inhale the aerosol.

How an e-cigarette works

Image from Health Canada

E-cigarettes come in many shapes and sizes. Some have refillable cartridges and others have pre-loaded pods.

Vaping products 

 Vaping and youth

 

Flavours hook youth

E-juices come in many different flavours. Flavours lower the perception of harm and are appealing to children and teens. Flavours also mask the harshness of nicotine to make it easier to consume.

Did you know…?

When compared to teens who do not use e-cigarettes, teens who use e-cigarettes are 4x more likely to start smoking tobacco cigarettes.

Nicotine affects the developing brain.

Many vape products contain nicotine. Nicotine is a highly addictive substance. Teens are at higher risk of addiction than adults. Nicotine rewires teens’ developing brains and can increase anxiety, mood swings and learning difficulties. Some teens are not aware that the e-cigarettes they use contain nicotine.

Other long-term health effects of vaping are unknown.

Vegetable glycerine (VG) and propylene glycol (PG) are the main liquids in e-juice. While considered safe to eat, these ingredients have not been tested to see if they are safe to breathe in.

When e-juice is heated, it can create new chemicals like formaldehydes. Other contaminants like nickel, tin, or aluminum can also get into the aerosol and be inhaled. Some of these chemicals and contaminants are linked to negative health effects.

However, since there is no burning during vaping, the amount of chemicals and contaminants is normally at much lower levels than in cigarette smoke.

Vaping on school property is prohibited.

Anyone who vapes on school property can be fined. Learn more about vaping regulations in Ontario.

What can you do to help your teen?

Being available is the most important thing you can do help your teen make positive decisions around vaping and other substance use. Find strategies in these tip sheets to start the conversation:

Teaching resources

Find classroom resources about e-cigarettes and vaping.

Youth Speaking Up!

Local youth-made PSA about vaping:

Youth talk about the importance of regulating flavoured e-cigarettes:

 

 

North Bay

345 Oak Street West
705-474-1400

Parry Sound

70 Joseph Street Unit #302
705-746-5801

Burk's Falls

17 Copeland Street (by appointment only)
1-800-563-2808