Nova Scotia

Smoke Free Nova Scotia says vaping survey results are 'alarming'

Smoke Free Nova Scotia is calling on the provincial government to adopt stricter rules around vaping after what it calls "alarming findings" in a survey of Nova Scotia youth and young adults.

Organization says current legislative framework ineffective at reducing vaping among youth

A man uses a vape device in this illustration picture on Sept. 19, 2019. (Adnan Abidi/Reuters)

Smoke Free Nova Scotia is calling on the provincial government to adopt stricter rules around vaping after what it calls "alarming findings" in a survey of Nova Scotia youth and young adults.

The group said the results suggest the current framework that governs the sale and consumption of vaping products is ineffective when it comes to reducing vaping among youth.

"We need comprehensive policies to prevent youth from using these products and becoming addicted to nicotine," said Mohammed Al-Hamdani, executive director of Smoke Free Nova Scotia.

The organization is made up of representation from the Heart and Stroke Foundation, The Canadian Cancer Society and the Lung Association of Nova Scotia.

The group surveyed 670 youth: 369 youth ages 16-18 and 301 young adults ages 19-24.

Most surveyed use vape juice with nicotine

Invitations to participate in the survey were posted on Facebook and Instagram.

Among the most alarming findings, Al-Hamdani said, is that young people in Nova Scotia who are vaping typically spend $25 a week on three pods.

The majority, 90 per cent, use nicotine vape juice in their e-cigarettes and more than half of those opt for the 50 mg/ml, or higher concentrations of nicotine.

"It's telling us there that we need to look at how we should cap nicotine levels at lower concentrations," Al-Hamdani said.

"About 55 per cent of youth, male specifically, say that the nicotine rush is the most-liked aspect for them about vaping."

Vaping may be gateway to cigarettes

The survey also suggests that vaping may be a gateway to smoking cigarettes.

Among those surveyed, 20 per cent of 16-24 year olds who vape say they eventually started smoking cigarettes.

Al-Hamdani said he wasn't surprised to learn of the correlation between vaping and cigarette smoking. What did surprise him was the way youth and young adults get their hands on vaping products.

"We suspected that online stores would be the No. 1 access point for vaping products, but we found that that's not true," he said. "It's actually retail locations, whether it's a convenience store or a vape shop."

This, he said, is a good argument for raising the legal age of purchasing vaping products from 19 to 21.

Flavoured vape juice preferred

According to the survey, 95.8 per cent of those surveyed stated that they prefer flavoured vape juice over unflavoured vape juice.

Furthermore, it found that if flavoured e-juice was to be banned, almost half of all young vapers would quit.

This statistic is sure to resonate with Nova Scotia lawmakers who are rethinking the legislative framework around vaping.

Their concern follows reports in the U.S. that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been looking into more than 200 possible cases in 25 states of severe illness associated with vaping.

PCs call for ban on flavoured vape juice

Nova Scotia's Progressive Conservatives are calling for a provincewide ban on flavoured e-juice.

Premier Stephen McNeil said the province is looking at the possibility of banning flavoured vape products through regulations.

Smoke Free Nova Scotia will present the results of the survey to the province's standing committee on health on Nov. 12.

MORE TOP STORIES

About the Author

Preston Mulligan has been a reporter in the Maritimes for more than 20 years. Along with his reporting gig, he also hosts CBC Radio's Sunday phone-in show, Maritime Connection.

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.