E-cigarettes are being marketed as a less harmful nicotine product for smokers who are trying to quit, but many people have taken up vaping as a vice.

According to the Canadian Student Tobacco, Alcohol and Drugs Survey of 2016-2017, 23 per cent of students in grades 7-to-12 have tried vaping, with 10 per cent having done it in the last 30 days..

Vape pens have gotten much more concealable and inconspicuous in recent years, with many resembling USB drives or writing pens.

Though vaping is proven to be much less harmful than smoking of regular cigarettes, there are still health risks present, as well as the risk of nicotine addiction.

Brent Friesen, Medical Officer of Health with Alberta Health Services says nicotine products can be particularly harmful to teens and young adults.

"We know from research that our brains are developing until age 25 and youth that expose themselves to nicotine or use nicotine effect the wiring in their brains to make them more susceptible to nicotine in the future and the potential that they will start smoking regular cigarettes. Another risk of concern around the use of e-cigarettes is the gaps in terms of requiring good manufacturing processes to make sure that the e-liquids people are using are not contaminated with heavy metals or other compounds."

Friesen says a danger is also present when those who use vape pens turn up the power on the pens in order to "rip the fattest clouds." The problem is, these "fat rips" can cause a combustion effect which can be very harmful when inhaled.

Though vaping can present health problems and cause nicotine addiction in teens, Friesen says e-cigarettes can be effective when used for their intended purpose.

"There is a potential goal for e-cigarettes to be used as for as switching people to a less harmful form of smoking for those that are already smoking; there's no benefit for youth to start using e-cigarettes and there are harms associated with it."

Some legislation has been introduced to prevent the use of e-cigarettes in public.

Vaping is included in the recently implemented smoking bylaw in Okotoks, and many school districts have banned vaping on school property, including the Foothills School Division.

 

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