Vaping could be gateway to cigarettes for teens, VCH says


VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – With vaping products landing in the hands of teens in recent years, Vancouver Coastal Health is concerned today’s young e-cigarette users could end up tomorrow’s tobacco smokers.

May 31 is World No Tobacco Day, and doctors in Vancouver are worried about teenagers taking up vaping.

Dr. Meena Dawar says since e-cigarettes that include nicotine became widely available, VCH has heard from many schools about concerns surrounding use by students.

A survey done in 2018 found more than a fifth of grade 7 to 12 students in British Columbia had vaped in the previous month, and that was before e-cigarettes containing nicotine became widespread.

Dawar says in the long run, nicotine can affect memory and concentration.

“There’s certainly some evidence that it may alter brain development, particularly for youth – or the growing brain.”

Vaping products with nicotine have only become widely available over the last eight months, and the long-term effects are not yet known. But there are some warning signs.

RELATED: Vancouver doctor wants to raise legal smoking age to 21

“There’s increase in heart rate, there’s increase in respiratory rate, there’s increase in physiological markers that may, over [the] long term, lead to [an] increase in respiratory disease and heart disease,” Dawar says.

Sue Dorey with the Burnaby School District says a Health Canada tour on vaping came through her schools this week.

“A lot of the kids are pretty well educated about vaping but all of them were like ‘I didn’t’ know that piece.’ So there’s little pieces that they learn,” she says. “Giving them information about the other vaping products as well because they have trace levels of nicotine in them – they don’t know the long-term health effects.”

Dorey says with students, vaping can be an entry point to smoking cigarettes.

“A lot of people view vaping as a way to quit smoking, but we’re seeing a population who are using vaping before they’re smoking,” she says.

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