By Dima Kulakov
Last week, I interviewed Dr. Nicholas Chadi, a paediatrician specialized in adolescent and addiction medicine, based in Montreal, about the dangers of vaping, especially for teens, as well as the dangers of vaping during the pandemic.
Q – What led to the extreme rise in popularity in vaping over the past years, especially with teens?
A – 1. Vaping devices/e-cigarettes became much smaller, and thus far more discrete.
2. Vapes became much more widely available, through corner stores, etc.
3. Vapes are cheap.
4. There are all sorts of flavors, so they are appealing to teens.
5. They provide nicotine, which is addictive.
Q – What are e-cigarettes meant for/what is their purpose?
A – It is important to remember that there are, in a way, two intended purposes of vapes. Firstly, companies, such as JUUL, officially state that e-cigarettes were created for the sole purpose of helping smokers quit smoking. However, many people think that vaping was created for the purpose of “hooking” a new group of people/a new generation on nicotine to sell products, since less and less young people are willing to smoke cigarettes.
Q – Is vaping actually less dangerous than smoking?
A – Most people think so, as there are generally fewer toxic particles that can harm your lungs in the aerosol inhaled from a vape than the number of toxic particles inhaled from a cigarette (not to say that there are none). However, since e-cigarettes are relatively new, their long term health effects are not known.
So, compared to cigarettes, vapes are likely a safer alternative. However, the issue is that most teens would not smoke, and are thus not vaping in place of smoking, but rather, in place of smoking/vaping nothing at all.
Q – How do vaping companies take advantage of teens?
A – By using appealing colors, flavours, packaging, etc. vaping companies attract teens to their products. Since vapes contain nicotine, they are highly addictive, and thus get teens “hooked.” From here, corporations exploit this addiction for money.
Q – How have the dangers of vaping been elevated because of COVID and have there been any studies conducted to prove this?
A – There is currently research being conducted on this topic. So far, it has been deduced that one is more likely to contract COVID if they vape, in general. Though the reason for this is not yet clear, it could be because vaping weakens lungs, and thus makes vape users more susceptible to contracting the virus. Additionally, it is known that if a teen vapes, it is likely they are doing so with someone else, possibly sharing a device, etc., so in this sense, users of e-cigarettes are also more exposed to COVID.
Q – How can teens further educate themselves on the dangers of vaping?
A – Many resources such as the Health Canada website, doctors, etc. are information rich and highly useful. It is best not to get information from untrusted social media accounts or vaping companies, as they are looking to profit off of teens.
Overall, vaping/vape-addiction is a prominent issue in today’s world, especially among adolescents. It is important to be educated on the issue, and understand the dangers of vaping, so that you can make informed choices regarding vaping!