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Vaping rate among Ontario teens doubled in 2 years, survey shows

A man is seen vaping in this file photo. Robert F. Bukaty / AP Photo

The vaping rate among Ontario teens more than doubled in just two years, a new survey shows.

Around 23 per cent of teens reported using an e-cigarette within the past year when asked in 2019, up from 11 per cent in 2017.

The results were released by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) on Thursday after the completion of the long-running Ontario Student Drug Use and Health Survey.

Over 14,000 students in grades 7 to 12 were asked about drug use habits and responded anonymously.

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The survey also found that vaping is more prevalent as grades progress, with around 35 per cent of students in Grade 12 reporting that they vaped within the last year.

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“This surge in vaping in some young people who would never have smoked is troubling,” said Dr. Peter Selby, chief of medicine in CAMH’s psychiatry division.

“Currently, the products on the market are also not regulated in any meaningful way to prevent harm from exposure. Some of vaping’s long-term effects are still unknown, although it is safe to say that in the short term the exposure to chemicals is a lot less than that from cigarettes.”

The survey also found that tobacco cigarette use among the demographic surveyed decreased by two per cent, with five per cent reporting past-year use in 2019 compared to seven per cent in 2017.

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Meanwhile, students were also asked about other past-year drug use, including alcohol and cannabis.

The survey found that use has been declining over the past two decades, with around 42 per cent of teens reporting alcohol use in 2019 compared to 66 per cent in 1999.

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Cannabis use also decreased in that time, down to 22 per cent from 28 per cent. However, consumption of cannabis edibles has increased recently, up to 14 per cent from 11 per cent in 2017.

Students were also asked about use of other drugs, including cocaine and LSD.

While use of both those drugs has decreased in the past two decades, 2.6 per cent of respondents in Grade 9 to Grade 12 reported using cocaine within the past year in 2019 and two per cent reported using LSD.

Full results of the survey, which is conducted every two years, can be found here.

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