The Nova Scotia Lung Association is sounding the alarm on vaping and e-cigarettes, claiming more and more youth are taking up the habit.
The association says it’s reached the point where an awareness campaign must come together in order to emphasize the risks associated with youth vaping.
“When you have a product that is tech-heavy, trendy, looks cool and delivers all kinds of appetizing flavours, then of course, you are going to get more youth attracted to that,” said Mohammed Al-Hamdani, director of health initiatives with the Nova Scotia Lung Association.
Al-Hamdani says they’ve been inundated with calls and concerns coming from community groups and schools, all seeking advice on how to deal with the number of youth vaping and smoking e-cigarettes.
“They (teachers) said, ‘I asked my students how many of you smoke and I’d get one or two hands up, but when I asked how many of you vape or tried vaping most hands go up so we know that’s an issue,'” said Al-Hamdani.
The struggle Al-Hamdani says is that scientific evidence around the dangers and long-term health effects of vaping isn’t available yet. It’s still too new, but they do know nicotine can be addictive and there are similar chemicals found in the vaping juice that are also found in cigarettes.
The Lung Association is concerned that vaping will push youth towards smoking cigarettes.
Students at Citadel High School say vaping is popular and many will vape inside the school in bathrooms, and even inside the classroom.
“It was a real epidemic,” said Grade 11 student Alenne Adekayode. “Our school newspaper wrote an article about it. It was a real big thing. But they’ve recently had a big crack down on it. So I don’t see as many people vaping.”
According to the association, 49 per cent of Nova Scotia students in grades 10 to 12 reported using an e-cigarette in the last 30 days.
The Nova Scotia Health Authority (NSHA) says they’re currently collaborating with other organizations and looking at ways to help prevent youth from lighting up.
“We’re looking back to the successes we had around tobacco control and we’re modeling some of those approaches going forward,” said NSHA health promoter Shannon ONeill. “We’re really thinking in-depth about the prevention of initiation into vaping.”
The Nova Scotia Lung Association wants students to think about the risks associated with vaping and then get a little creative. They’ve launched a contest asking students to create a 30-second short film explaining why they should avoid vaping and the contest is open until the end of the month with the winner taking home a $250 prize.