Spreading vaping-related illness chokes up young people’s futures

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The recent outbreak of respiratory illnesses borne from what’s known as the “vaping crisis” has health officials concerned about the dangers of nicotine and cannabis vaporizers. 

Still, not enough is being done to keep the potentially life-threatening products out of young Canadians’ hands.

Several provinces across the country are working to implement tracking and reporting systems for suspected cases of vaping-related illness, but Canadians need swifter governmental action.

That’s why the vaporizing devices should be kept out of the hands of young people before the problem gets worse.

As of Sept. 19, the U.S. had tallied 530 confirmed or probable cases of lung injury and eight deaths linked with vaping. Canada’s now starting to see a similar health crisis. 

It’s clear from recent reports that vaping can lead to health problems which may be irreversible. Provincial and federal governments need to act fast rather than just evaluating the problem’s scope. 

Canadians deserve definitive conclusions about the dangers of vaping, and the demographic primarily targeted by e-cigarette advertising—youth—must be educated about those health risks. 

Although vapes gained popularity under the guise of smoking cessation, the devices have introduced nicotine addiction to many healthy non-smoking Canadians. Even without considering vaping-related lung damage, a young and susceptible demographic addicted to nicotine is inevitably a negative thing. 

Education has proven effective in combating smoking rates. The significant decrease in tobacco use in Canada over the last 60 years is largely attributed to massive federal anti-smoking campaigns. A similar campaign targeting vaping, specifically in young Canadians, would go a long way.

The potential health risks of vaping and associated products—particularly nicotine and cannabis pods—should have been better publicized before e-cigarettes were allowed to become a popular trend among Canadian youth. 

Canada’s lost its opportunity to proactively protect Canadians from the adverse health effects of vaping. The only appropriate course of action moving forward is an extensive Health Canada study to determine just how dangerous these vaping products are. 

If the products are found to consistently trigger lung damage and be a subsequent burden on the healthcare system, e-cigarettes and related paraphernalia should be banned nation-wide.

In the meantime, stricter regulations and deterrents would go a long way toward protecting current vape users from dangerous products and discouraging vulnerable populations from starting up the habit. 

It’s becoming clearer that vaping threatens respiratory health, particularly that of youth, which is why determining the breadth of this issue is only the start of a solution. 

The federal government needs to combat the vaping epidemic head-on through research, before the damage to Canadians’ health can’t be undone. 

—Journal Editorial Board

 

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