Whether you accept the claims that e-cigarettes are a healthier alternative to traditional cigarettes or not, their popularity is increasing.
Photographs of movie stars like Leonardo DiCaprio and Katherine Heigl “vaping” are undoubtedly a contributing factor. In Canada, e-cigarettes containing nicotine and other dangerous substances are illegal, yet still widely available.
E-cigarettes that do not contain nicotine and do not make a health claim can be advertised and sold in Canada without restrictions. Some people who use these devices do choose the nicotine-free option. Although an alternative to inhaling tobacco smoke, they are not an approved smoking cessation device.
At Public Health, we are concerned that youth-targeted marketing has the potential to encourage a new generation to start smoking. After all of the work our society has done to reduce smoking levels, we could find ourselves pressing rewind.
In 2013, the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health reported that approximately 15% of Ontario high school students had used e-cigarettes without nicotine. Subsequently, 5% made the choice to switch to e-juice (the liquid in e-cigarettes) that contains nicotine.
Public Health supports the recently passed Making Healthier Choices Act, that will ban all flavoured tobacco and treat e-cigarettes like their traditional counterparts. The act will also ban their use throughout the province for anyone under 19 years of age. Regulations related to the act are expected to take effect as early as 2016.
What you need to know
- An electronic cigarette (e-cigarette or e-cig) is a battery-operated device that allows a user to inhale a vapour produced from cartridges filled with liquid (e-juice) that may contain nicotine, flavour and other chemicals.
- There is insufficient scientific evidence to claim that e-cigarettes are a safe alternative to traditional cigarettes or an effective smoking cessation tool.
Want to quit smoking? Contact Public Health for more information about smoking cessation programs.