Tobacco and Vaping Products

About smoking

Cigarette-smoking and tobacco addiction is the leading cause of preventable death in Canada. Tobacco use not only ups the risk of lung cancer, it leads to COPD, and contributes to the early deaths of more than 37,000 Canadians every year.

Secondhand smoke is just as harmful and there’s mounting evidence that third-hand smoke—the fumes trapped in furniture, carpet and fabric—is dangerous.

The BC Lung Association is on a mission to reduce the number of people who smoke, particularly our youth, and to support individuals in their efforts to quit. For information on the harms of smoking, as well as help to quit, QuitNow can help! QuitNow is the FREE quit smoking program of the Government of British Columbia, delivered by the British Columbia Lung Association. 

About nicotine 

Nicotine is a highly addictive drug, and vaping nicotine could result in symptoms of dependence. It can harm adolescents’ brain development and affect learning, memory and concentration. Acute nicotine exposure can be toxic. Children and adults have been poisoned by swallowing, breathing or absorbing vape liquid. Nicotine may increase the risk of future addiction to tobacco and other drugs.

About vaping/e-cigarettes and other vapour products

Vapour products are battery powered devices that heat a liquid solution to deliver an aerosol that the users inhale. The liquid inside the cartridge is called e-liquid or e-juice which often contains a carrier solvent of propylene glycol and/or vegetable glycerol, nicotine flavours consisting of chemicals and other harmful substances.

The array of vapour products include: e-cigarettes, vapes, vape pens, mods, tank systems, e-hookahs and electronic nicotine delivery system (ENDS). These devices do not contain tobacco and do not involve combustion. Using a vapour product is commonly referred to as ‘vaping’ or ‘juuling’.

What are the health effects associated with using vapour products?

The long-term health effects of using vapour products are currently unknown and under scientific examination. However, several studies suggest that health effects of vaping can be similar to those of cigarette smoking. These include the development of lung disease, heart disease and some types of cancer.

Short-term health effects include coughing, sneezing, exacerbation in asthma symptoms and increased heart rate.

Vapour products often contain nicotine, even if they are labelled “nicotine-free”.

Defective vapour products batteries can cause fires and explosions and result is serious injuries.

Are vapour products a safer alternative to smoking traditional cigarettes?

There is a misconception among youth and adults alike that vapour products such as e-cigarettes alleviate all the harms associated with traditional cigarettes. Vapour products are in fact harmful and not safe for youth consumption, particularly during adolescence when the brain undergoes critical development.

For heavy smokers, vaping presents a safer alternative if used as a complete substitute for traditional cigarettes. While less harmful compared to traditional smoking, the use of vapour products still exposes the lungs to heavy metals such as lead, particulate matter, nicotine and other cancer-causing toxins.

There are also concerns that consumers of vapour products are more likely to transition to traditional cigarettes in later years.

Youth and e-cigarettes 

There is an increasing trend in the use of vapour products among youth. Vaping is becoming more prominent among this demographic due to a wide range of convenient devices, appealing flavours and loosely regulated marketing.  The 2017 Canadian Tobacco, Alcohol and Drug Survey (CTADS) indicated that 23% of Canadian youth, aged 15-19 years old, have tried e-cigarettes.

Other evidence-based resources we recommend: 

QuitNow

Health Canada on Smoking, Vaping and Tobacco

HealthLink BC 

Page Last Updated: 12/01/2019