E-cigarette health hazards remain unknown

E-cigarette health hazards remain unknown

Interior Health says vaping not safe alternative to cigarettes

Smokers seeking out vaping to reduce their nicotine fits may still be risking their long-term health, says tobacco reduction coordinator for Interior Health.

Cheryl Sidenberg says the health authority has concerns about exposure to vaping for adults and young people.

“It’s still a fairly new device and we are still learning a great deal about them,” said Sidenberg.

“It’s still an unregulated device, so whatever it says on the packaging, whether the vape or e-juice has this amount of nicotine or whatever, the bottom line is it’s still unregulated so we don’t know exactly what’s in it.

“Tests done by Health Canada on some (e-juice) products advertised as having no nicotine were actually found to have nicotine content.”

Related: Grieving parents of dead B.C. baseball player, 14, want answers

Vapes, also known as e-cigarettes, are growing in popularity with young people and those trying to quite smoking cigarettes, the belief being they are less harmful.

Vaping is the act of inhaling and exhaling the aerosol, often referred to as vapor, which is produced by an e-cigarette or similar device.

The term is used because e-cigarettes do not produce tobacco smoke, but rather an aerosol, often mistaken for water vapor, that actually consists of fine particles.

Many of these particles contain varying amounts of toxic chemicals, which have been linked to cancer, as well as respiratory and heart disease.

One reported case widely distributed across the Internet involved a Pennsylvania teenage girl working as a restaurant hostess who began using e-cigarettes. Within three weeks of starting, she developed a crippling medical condition called wet lung.

She noticed symptoms like excessive coughing, severe pain in her chest and being short of breath. So she went to a Pittsburgh hospital emergency room and doctors there were baffled by her deteriorating condition.

She was given antibiotics but she went into acute respiratory failure, having to be placed on a ventilator with tubes sticking out of her chest to drain the liquid from her lungs in order to keep breathing.

Doctors ultimately diagnosed her with wet lung, a term for a sensitivity to pneumonitis triggered by ingredients evident in an e-cigarette. Treatment enabled her lungs to recover and she was administered a drug used for severe allergic reactions.

Vaping is also blamed for another condition called ‘popcorn lung,’ caused by breathing in a chemical called diacetyl, a flavouring additive found in e-cigarettes which can result in excessive coughing or wheezing.

Sidenberg said nicotine remains the addictive agent in cigarettes, so any nicotine content in e-juice or vape juice leaves the promoted health benefits as questionable.

She points to the multiple flavourings, from strawberry and other fruits to bacon or alcohols, coupled with attractive packaging as enabling these products, many which are produced by the tobacco industry, to entice buyers.

She called new legislation in Canada to restrict access of these products to youth under 19 and advertising limitations to youth as positive public health care steps.

Related: Ottawa ushers in new rules for e-cigarettes

She said it is discouraging to see smoke pits at local schools evolving into vaping pits when the potential harm from inhaling or exposure to the vapours remains a question with no definitive answer yet.

“Vaping is a way for the tobacco industry to keep marketing cigarette products, but nicotine is the additive element in both and is not good for anyone to use.”

She cited how IH has worked with more than 50 per cent of communities across the health region to develop smoke-free designation bylaws that also include vaping along with cannabis.

“It just makes sense to protect the public from second-hand smoke. There are many misconceptions about vaping but one in particular is that vapes release water vapours rather than smoke, so they are less harmful.

“But as we are getting to understand more, there are other chemicals substances and flavour elements released in a vapour rather than smoke that can irritate the lungs as well. We just don’t have the long-term impact use research over a 25-year period to reach definitive conclusions as we have with cigarette smoking. These devices have only been around since 2003.”

Related: Vaping device overheats, burns down Nanaimo home

Sidenberg said IH’s policy is to advocate for people to quit smoking altogether, and rely on the provincially approved programs in place to help alleviate nicotine addictions.

“The best alternative is to not start smoking in the first place. We can’t tell people what to do, but at the end of the day it’s safe to say only clean air is probably best for your lungs,” she said.

She said IH also warns adults to not leave e-juice containers accessible to children or pets.

“We are seeing an increase in the number of incidents where children or pets consum the contents which are poisonous because of the nicotine content. The product containers are not childproof like for prescription drugs so they need to be stored away in a safe spot and not left on the kitchen counter.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Pictured, left to right: Darren Brewer (City of Cranbrook), Bill Bennett (Bill Bennett Consulting), Councillor Ron Popoff, Mayor Lee Pratt, Councillor John Hudak, Josh Power, Peak Industries.
Economic activity picking up on Peak Industrial lands

Finger joint mill has begun production, while multiple companies are initiating or expanding operations.

At the library
What’s happening at the Cranbrook Public Library

Mike Selby The Library is now open with extended hours (with some… Continue reading

A member of the Avalanche Canada South Rockies field team gathers important snowpack data that is used to produce daily avalanche forecasts for the region. Photo by Jennifer Coulter.
Warming temperatures increase avalanche risk heading into the weekend

Warm temperatures impact conditions, human behaviour

The Ktunaxa First Nation has purchased the former Mega Deals Furniture buildings at 32 9th Avenue South in Cranbrook, and 1444 Columbia Avenue in Castlegar. (Inset — Google Street View. Cranbrook photo by Barry Coulter)
Ktunaxa buy buildings in Cranbrook, Castlegar

Nation takes over former Mega Deals Furniture in Cranbrook; expands West Kootenay presence

Art Gruenig at Turtle Day at Elizabeth Lake, May, 2014. Townsman file photo
Cranbrook naturalist receives national award

Art Gruenig awarded the Meritorious Service Cross for work with bluebirds, turtles

A sample of guns seized at the Pacific Highway border crossing from the U.S. into B.C. in 2014. Guns smuggled from the U.S. are used in criminal activity, often associated with drug gangs. (Canada Border Service Agency)
B.C. moves to seize vehicles transporting illegal firearms

Bill bans sale of imitation or BB guns to young people

BC Housing minister David Eby is concerned that Penticton council’s decision to close a local homeless shelter will result in a “tent city” similar to this one in Everett, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / Black Press file)
‘Disappointed and baffled’ B.C. housing minister warns of tent city in Penticton

Penticton council’s decision to close a local homeless shelter could create tent city, says David Eby

A recently published study out of UBC has found a link between life satisfaction levels and overall health. (Pixabay)
Satisfied with life? It’s likely you’re healthier for it: UBC study

UBC psychologists have found those more satisfied with their life have a 26% reduced risk of dying

A vial of some of the first 500,000 of the two million AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses that Canada has secured through a deal with the Serum Institute of India in partnership with Verity Pharma at a facility in Milton, Ont., on Wednesday, March 3, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Carlos Osorio - POOL
Federal panel recommends 4-month gap between COVID vaccine doses due to limited supply

The recommendation applies to all COVID-19 vaccines currently approved in Canada

A vial of Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a family doctor office, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021 in Paris. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP -Christophe Ena
Trudeau ‘optimistic’ that timeline for rollout of COVID vaccines can be accelerated

Canada set to receive more than 6M COVID-19 vaccine dose than initially expected, by end of March

Beginning late Tuesday, anti-pipeline protesters blocked the intersection of Hastings Street and Clark Drive in Vancouver. (Instagram/Braidedwarriors)
Demonstrators block key access to Vancouver port over jail for pipeline protester

They group is protesting a 90-day jail sentence handed to a fellow anti-pipeline protester

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Most Read