The New Brunswick Lung Association is warning teens of the risks of using e-cigarette and vaping products in light of the New Brunswick Health Council’s (NBHC) report released this week that shows 28 per cent of N.B. students have tried one or more of the alternative smoking products.
“They are under the misconception that they are a harmless product and that they are a safer alternative to tobacco products,” said Barbara Walls, director of health incentives at the N.B. Lung Association.
Walls said she worries that the province’s youth have become the “guinea pigs” for the e-cigarette market.
“Certainly there is a number of chemicals in those products that are definitely proven to be there that have the potential to be cancer causing.”
New Brunswick’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Jennifer Russell said research is underway to determine the short and long-term effects of e-cigarette vapour.
“It has not been fully studied yet, we don’t have all the research right now,” Russell said. “So, can we say that e-cigarettes are safer than tobacco again as a smoking cessation aid with respect to harm reduction perhaps yes. But we would not encourage people to vape or use e-cigarettes.”
Yet there were several students using vaping products and e-cigarettes outside of a Moncton high school on Wednesday.
Ben Morrison, 17, said e-cigarettes and vaping products are becoming quite popular with his peers.
“Some kids, they may see it as a cool thing, but some people see it as a way to quit smoking,” he said. “I think it is honestly safer than smoking.”
But Walls said that may not be the case. She is confident that research now underway worldwide will eventually show that vaping products and e-cigarettes can cause cancer and other lung diseases. She is encouraging youth not to use the products at all, not even to help them quit smoking.
In July 2015 the province banned the sale of e-cigarettes and vaping products to people under the age of 19. But given the number of students using the products according to the NBHC’s report, teens are still finding a way to vape.