CBC NEW How E-Cigarettes Helped Hook Teenagers On Nicotine Vaping Products

Well new in-depth reporting by CBC News is uncovering how the federal government
ignored early warning signs about the health risks from vaping now this is a part of a series of stories we are launching for you this morning and that reporting also shows how a government decision to allow vaping devices and products to be sold in Canada was made without any scientific evidence that would help people quit smoking so now
millions of Canadians especially teens and young adults are exposed to potential harm from vaping our Kristine Barak begins our coverage this morning the latest numbers show an alarming increase in the use of nicotine vaping products among teenagers nearly one in three high school students in Alberta and Quebec say they baked in the past month it's one in four in Ontario and about one in five in British Columbia in
vaping we're seeing more and more you say that they feel that they're addicted
to vaping so essentially it's bad news on all fronts in terms of youth a public health professor David Hammond tracked smoking and now vaping among high school
students he thought east cigarettes are vapes could be a less harmful tool to help smokers quit we still have 5 million adults smokers one out of every two or three are likely to die unless they quit but there has never been any firm evidence showing that vaping isless harmful or that it could help smokers quit still Health Canada became
convinced and in 2018 it legalized bait products but doctors say it failed to put adequate rules in place to control a growing vape industry and one wants to be polite but what sort of a hypocrisy between what we're doing with tobacco and what which contains nicotine is as the major in a psychoactive substance versus vaping which again guess what the same psychoactive substances is the nicotine and we're essentially hands-off and minimal regulation sweet flavors were allowed ads popped up everywhere and vape products were being sold next to candy in convenience stores all of it in an effort to appeal to adult smokers Hammond says the plan didn't work
Health Canada needs to act quickly and change course maybe the biggest losers in
this equation some of them are the adult smokers for whom this could have helped
and now we have a new generation of nicotine users to go along with them so yeah it's it's shocking and survey show the number of kids vaping in Canada is still rising christine Burak CBC News Toronto more now on our CBC News in-depth coverage on vaping and the health risks for users especially young people now in a moment we're gonna hear from a restaurant and experts do tell us that the number of young Canadians who feel addicted to vaping keeps rising so is the number of teens who are taking up the habit new reporting by CBC News shows how that rise comes out of a
decision by Health Canada and really behind it was this belief that vaping would help Canadians quit smoking but there was no scientific proof and Health Canada ignored early warnings about the risks including evidence that young people were attracted to vaping when the federal government legalized vaping products in 2018 sweet flavors were allowed in the products while they were sold right next to the candy in convenience stores not restricted like cigarettes and tobacco so now experts are urging the federal government to change the policy and tighten up regulations around vaping we've yet to reach the plateau for the increases in vaping among kids interestingly we haven't seen the same increases among adults so we're failing both target markets we're not protecting kids and
we're not actually doing a good job
getting the products in the hands of
people who could benefit which is adults
smokers to quit what does the future
market hold it can't look like it is
so here is a look at the rise in vaping
among Canadian teens new numbers showing
us that in the past month nearly 1 in 3
high schoolers have vaped nicotine well
for more on this we're now joined in
studio by dr. Samir Gupta here is a
restaurant also an associate professor
in the Department of Medicine at the
University of Toronto thank you for
joining us again dr. Gupta you know I
want to begin first and foremost with
what you are hearing from other
restaurants when you talk about vaping
what is the feeling what is the reaction
when you hear a number like one in
teenagers in this country are taking up
vaping it's I think for the respiratory
community it's really scary so if I'd if
I go back I'll say that a few years ago
I think there was some hope I remember
years ago at a medical conference there
was this formal debate and I debated a
colleague of mine about e-cigarettes and
I took the pro side and the argument I
made at the time was that we all have
these patients in our practice who are
addicted and who have suffered major
consequences from smoking you know some
of them have emphysema some have
developed lung cancer and they're
desperate to quit and they've tried
everything that's out there to help them
quit you know medications nicotine
replacement you know counseling you name
it but they can't and so many of us
thought that for that very narrow
segment of the population remember only
15 percent of smokers of Canadian smoke
to begin with so an even more narrow
segment we're talking about here some of
us thought yes this would be something
potentially effective for those patients
but I think naively we also thought that
like other therapies first it would have
to be shown to be effective it would
have to be scientifically studied and
proven to be safe and effective but
ultimately that hasn't been borne out
it's just out there and like you just
heard on the clip most of the people who
are using it or not in fact former
smokers so we've now all just taken a
step back in that there was the seed of
hope that was there and it's just kind
of withered away and and now there's
just this concern about the possibility
of you know what are we gonna see in
five 10 15 years what's the new epidemic
that's gonna emerge from this well it's
interesting when you talk about you know
only 15% of people were still smoking at
the time and now you're looking at
number where one in three teenagers are
taking a vaping that seems a whole other
kettle forms have been opened up here
but you know - the original argument
that you're making a is there a medical
reason for this does vaping actually
help smokers quit and that's you know
that's a question that we still don't
know the answer to and that's important
because that argument is often made that
well you know if only smokers could use
it it'll help them to quit what we have
are a number of what we call
observational studies so these are
studies where they're just looking for
patterns among smokers who have started
to use e-cigarettes and some of those
studies do show that those smokers are
more likely to quit but then there are a
whole bunch of studies that show that in
fact smokers who start using e-cigs
rats are less likely to quit and that
may be because e cigarettes are just
sort of a cleaner and easier way for
smokers to get that nicotine fix cleaner
because you don't have the smell around
you that you would do it cigarettes for
example and that might be perpetuating
their nicotine addiction now we have one
important randomized control trial that
people often talk about and it's a large
study where they actually randomly
assigned smokers to either get the
e-cigarette or to get the nicotine patch
and it did show that those who got the
e-cigarette were more likely to quit
smoking but a couple of caveats about
that is that first that you know the
nicotine patch is probably the least
effective therapy that we have to help
people to quit smoking so it wasn't a
great comparator to begin with and the
other is that even if you look at the
people who used e-cigarettes only 18
percent of them quit so over 80% of
people are then exposed to the
short-term and long-term risks of
e-cigarettes yet it doesn't help them to
quit smoking it doesn't help them to
quit so what does work so we have lots
of effective therapies and in fact the
you know what we have in our toolkit to
help people to quit are things that have
been studied and and these are things
that are regulated by Health Canada as
drugs and and that's the you know the
the food and drugs act and what we have
are some pills we have some pills that
are tailor-made
to help people to quit and we have
nicotine replacement we add therapy to
that counselling is an important part of
how we help people to quit but I think
the really important piece there is that
once something is approved it means it's
reached a point where it's been studied
for years it means we have data on
scientific sort of how effective it is
but also how safe it is and it passes
that regulation and the difference with
e-cigarettes is that it came in with
that premise that this is a therapy to
help people to quit but it never faced
that scrutiny that scientific scrutiny
on safety and efficacy so there's this
this notion out there that oh this is a
therapy and it's on shelves yet it
hasn't gone through that scrutiny so
patients kind of walk by a convenience
store and we'll say well if it's there
and it's freely available it must be
safe and it must be effective and that's
just a fallacy mm-hmm so a fallacy but
to that young people who see flavors
like cherry bomb or some cute name with
a flavor and we're seeing young people
taking it up it makes me wonder about
what we don't know yet about vaping
because there are these cases through as
you know very well through Canada
through the United States where young
people are showing up in hospitals
they're trying to figure out what is
wrong with them they believe it is tied
to vaping what don't we know yet about
this practice there's just so much that
we don't know there are so many
important questions first let's start
with short-term so we have this epidemic
of people who are many people are dying
people are getting really sick so there
are lots of questions around you know
what is causing this short-term epidemic
we've just heard about this case in
Canada of bronchiolitis this other
severe illness which is quite different
than what was reported mostly in the US
and so that raises questions about for
example what are what are the effects of
these flavorings that are being used
there are also questions around is this
a gateway drug so in these young people
who are starting to use this is it
creating a new nicotine addiction that
from in a few years from now will
translate into them graduating to
cigarettes so it is is it a gateway to
actually smoking cigarettes and then I
think the biggest question which will
take time to answer is what are the
long-term effects you know when we had
when people started smoking cigarettes
initially it was thought to be harm
reduction compared to chewing tobacco
because we knew that chewing tobacco
caused all sorts of oral cancers and so
this must be better only long-term did
we realize what all the health
consequences were and so this idea that
just because cigarettes conventional
cigarettes have thousands of toxins in
the smoke and east cigarettes have
hundreds of toxins well it must be less
dangerous it must be less toxic that's
really just something we don't know it
still has hundreds of toxins many of
those are not found in cigarette smoke
so the real question is what's the
effect of regularly doing this in our
young people in five 10 15 years and
what are the kinds of you know pulmonary
diseases cardiac diseases cancers what
else might we see in a generation from
now that's the real question
yeah really scary when you think about
what we don't know in terms of long-term
impacts dr. Gupta thank you for this my
pleasure and that is dr. Samir Gupta a
respirometer also associate professor in
the department of medicine at the
University of Tehran