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‘Don’t lose sight of this crisis’: Vaping concerns grow in N.B. as more youth partake

WATCH: New findings released by the New Brunswick Health Council show that almost a third of New Brunswick youth have tried vaping. As Callum Smith reports, the New Brunswick Lung Association says governments can’t afford to lose sight of what its calling a crisis.

New findings released by the New Brunswick Health Council show almost one-third of New Brunswick youth have tried vaping.

Earlier this month, the province’s chief medical officer of health confirmed there have been two suspected vaping-related cases of pulmonary illness.

The number of students between grades 6-and-12 who say they’ve tried vaping is up across the board in New Brunswick. More than 29 per cent of youth surveyed say they’ve tried a vape product or an e-cigarette, compared to 22 per cent three years ago.

READ MORE: Juul denies former exec’s claim that company shipped tainted vape pods

The New Brunswick Lung Association says governments can’t afford to lose sight of what it’s calling a “crisis.”

“My concern is of course that the young people today are the guinea pigs for those products,” says Barbara Walls, the association’s director of health promotion and initiatives. “It’ll take a while before there will be long-term studies, meanwhile you’re going to have people suffering and dying.”

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Barbara Walls, the New Brunswick Lung Association’s director of health promotion and initiatives, says some youth are unknowingly consuming the equivalent of 20 cigarettes in a day
Barbara Walls, the New Brunswick Lung Association’s director of health promotion and initiatives, says some youth are unknowingly consuming the equivalent of 20 cigarettes in a day Megan Yamoah / Global News

Health Canada says while long-term effects are unknown, there are health risks linked to chemicals that can be found in vaping products.

“The New Brunswick Medical Society is disappointed to learn of the growing number of New Brunswick youth that have tried vaping,” reads a statement from Dr. Chris Goodyear, the medical society’s president. “Physicians in New Brunswick are deeply concerned about the growing evidence that suggests vaping is far more harmful than we realize.”

And while the New Brunswick Health Council says it has been proven as an effective way to stop smoking, there are also some adverse effects.

“What some studies are looking at is the risk of, because of the nicotine found in some of this vaping product, that it can be a gateway to tobacco for some youth,” says CEO Stéphane Robichaud.

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“I know we’ve had a recent election,” says Walls. “But don’t lose sight of this crisis and keep moving on it. If possible, move it even faster.”

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Numbers from a New Brunswick Health Council survey show roughly one-third of students have tried vaping
Numbers from a New Brunswick Health Council survey show roughly one-third of students have tried vaping Submitted: New Brunswick Health Council

Walls says some vape producers use nicotine salts in their liquid pods, which can quickly become addictive.

“In one pod, is the equivalent of 20 cigarettes or 200 puffs,” she says. “One of them.”

Why Ontario is banning vaping ads at convenience stores
Why Ontario is banning vaping ads at convenience stores

Despite vaping concerns, several students who spoke to Global News in Moncton Wednesday said they started to try to stop smoking cigarettes.

“I smoked cigarettes and I wanted to quit cigarettes so I switched to vapes,” said Christina MacEachern, a Grade 12 student.

Mia Adair, another Grade 12 student, said “I don’t personally totally like it… It’s because I don’t smoke cigarettes anymore.”

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Recently, Health Canada reported a second confirmed case of vaping-related illness in Quebec. There are a few suspected cases across the country, including two in New Brunswick.

Health officials are encouraging parents to talk to their kids about the health concerns associated with vaping.