Hamilton youth unaware of vaping’s potential health impacts: report

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Published October 28, 2019 at 2:51 pm

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A recent report shows that a significant number of Hamilton youth are vaping without realizing there could be significant adverse health outcomes.

A recent report shows that a significant number of Hamilton youth are vaping without realizing there could be significant adverse health outcomes.

According to a report from Public Health services dated Oct. 24, 2019, and addressed to Hamilton’s Board of Health and the Mayor, one of the top reasons youth in Hamilton are using the products is because they aren’t aware of the potential for health impacts.

Last week, the province announced plans to ban the promotion of vaping products in convenience stores and gas stations in an effort to curb consumption among Ontario’s youth.

The regulations, Health Minister Christine Elliott said at the time the announcement was made, are a response to reports from health experts that warn there’s a growing number of youths across Ontario using vape products.

In that report, according to the available data, in 2017, there was a 74 per cent increase in people ages 16 to 19 vaping in Ontario. Additionally, 66 per cent of young people who vape use products with nicotine.

“Vaping is not without risk, and the potential long-term effects of vaping remain uncertain,” Elliott said last week. “As we continue to engage with experts and families to identify further action we can take to protect our youth, this first step will help begin to curb the alarming increase in young people vaping.”

In response, Hamilton’s Board of Health questioned at a meeting last week what the numbers looked like in the city and now there’s a report before them that outlines vaping trends here at home.

Here are some of the highlights from the report:

  • In Hamilton, 7.8 per cent of the population (age 12 years+) report using any alternative tobacco product in the past month (30 days), which is similar to Ontario’s estimate.
  • Small cigars/cigarillos and electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) were the most common alternative tobacco product used locally.
  • In 2015-2016, an estimated 15,000 individuals, or 3.2 per cent of Hamiltonians (age 12 years+) used an electronic cigarette in the past month.
  • Further analysis shows that males and young adults (age 12-24 years) are twice as likely to report using electronic cigarettes compared to females and adults (age 25-64 years), respectively.

The report also points out that middle school students say they picked up the habit for a variety of reasons including: seeing friends or family members vaping; not knowing that there is a health impact from using vape products; and the availability of flavours, such as mint, candy, fruit or chocolate.

Most notably, the report says that there have been no known cases of vape-related lung injuries in Hamilton so far.

In the rest of Canada, however, as of October 17, 2019, there are five confirmed or probable cases of severe lung illness related to vaping (two confirmed cases in Quebec; three probable cases in New Brunswick and British Columbia).

Since September, all Ontario hospitals are required to report any suspected vape-related lung injuries to the Chief Medical Officer.

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