In an act of cosmic irony, Ontario’s Minister of Health issue official concerns about vaping-related illnesses Wednesday morning just hours before officials at the Middlesex-London Health Unit announced that they may have the first case of severe pulmonary illness linked to vaping in Canada.
“While we aren’t able to say conclusively that the respiratory illness that occurred in this young person was the result of vaping, there is no other identifiable cause in this case,” said Dr. Chris Mackie, Medical Officer of Health and CEO at the Middlesex-London Health Unit in a media statement. Follow-up reporting by the CBC said that the teenager was put on life support follow his diagnosis, though he has since been sent home to recover.
“We know very little about the long-term health effects associated with e-cigarettes, but our findings so far are enough to convince us of the need to advise the public,” added Mackie.
This news came on the heels of a statement from Health Minister and Deputy Premier Christine Elliott Wednesday morning, where Elliott issued a minister’s order to require hospitals in the province to give the Chief Medical Officer of Health statistical information related to incidences of vaping-related illnesses.
“In light of the growing evidence, I have become increasingly concerned about the prevalence and possible health consequences of vaping, particularly as they affect our youth,” Elliott explained in the statement. “At the same time, it has become abundantly clear that we do not have access to sufficient data and information to understand the potential scope of this issue.”
Vaping, and the potential side effects of vaping, have become an increasing point of concern. Wednesday saw the announcement of the seventh death relating to vaping in the United States. This time, it was a 40-year-old who died last weekend from what’s being described as complications related to using e-cigarettes, according to CNN.
In the U.S., governments at the state and federal level are moving to ban or increase taxation on vaping and e-cigarette products arguing that the nature of the business, and it’s marketing, targets teens. “Let’s just dispense with any niceties, you don’t have any bubblegum-flavored, mango-flavored tobacco products unless you’re trying to target an audience that you were losing — that’s young people,” said California Governor Gavin Newsom.
Newsom isn’t alone in seeing a pattern. A study of youth in Canada, the U.S. and England led by University of Waterloo Professor David Hammond found that the use of vaping products had increased by 74 per cent in just one year between 2017 and 2018.
“The use of these products is escalating at a rate we’ve never seen. Our Enforcement Officers have seen an exponential increase in the number of people who vape, particularly high school-aged youth, which is a major concern for us,” said Linda Stobo, who’s in charge of the Middlesex-London Health Unit’s Chronic Disease and Tobacco Control.
“We’re not only worried about the way these products are being marketed aggressively to youth, but also about the high concentrations of nicotine found in some of these products, making them very addictive,” Stobo added.
Nearly 400 confirmed and probable cases of lung-related illness have been recorded by the U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, which doesn’t count the now seven confirmed deaths.
UPDATE – SEPT 19: The Canadian Vaping Association, a registered non-profit founded in 2014 to represent the vaping industry, has released a media statement calling on the provincial, territorial and federal governments to ban the sale of vaping and e-cigarette products from non-age restricted businesses and remove all visible marketing.
“Our concern here is that these locations are not age-restricted and, in many instances, are a common congregation point for youth,” the statement reads. “The false premise is that flavours are enticing youth to ‘experiment’ with vaping products, whereas the aggressive promotion of these products in non age-restricted environments has had a far greater impact.”
CVA affirms that their products are still safer as compared to cigarettes, and have helped many people quite the habit of cigarette smoking.