The Lung Association recently partnered with Heart & Stroke Foundation and Canadian Cancer Society to study youth vaping in. The study looked at why youth and young adults start vaping and their experiences including quit attempts, and products they like best. The results show that further action is needed to prevent youth vaping in Saskatchewan.
The majority of youth interviewed have tried to quit four times without success and many have begun smoking after vaping. Saskatchewan had the youngest starting age in Western Canada - with most starting at around 15 years in age - influenced by friends. Nearly everyone surveyed was offered someone else's vape and had shared their own almost 23 times. Pod-based devices, such as JUUL, were preferred and nearly everyone used flavoured vape juice when they started and continue to do so.
The survey also showed nicotine-based products were the most popular. Youth were also more often choosing products with high nicotine concentrations, the amount of nicotine consumed each week who vape regularly equates to the amount of nicotine in three packs of cigarettes. Most respondents to the survey said they would quit vaping if flavours were removed.
E-cigarettes were found to be more affordable compared to combustible cigarettes. Around $14 was spent a week, on average. Youth are also buying vapes from specialty vape shops. The concerning find shows that youth are themselves purchasing vapes and vape juice through these outlets, or finding an adult to do so.
Youth and young adults vaped six times per week, 37 times per day, 6 puffs per episode on average, which is the highest in Western Canada. Of those who vape, many know of friends who started smoking after using e-cigarettes.
From a public health perspective, preventing youth from vaping is critical as their brains are still in development stages. Exposure to high concentrations of nicotine at such a young age is not only damaging to their developing brains, it predisposes them to a long-term addiction. While Saskatchewan has enacted legislation to prevent youth from purchasing vape products; policy measures including taxing vape products (as BC has done) and a ban on flavoured vapes (as in Nova Scotia and PEI) are needed.