Vaping has grown in popularity, and vaping products are available in convenience and specialty stores. They are often marketed as a safe and harmless alternative to smoking. However, are they really safe?
What is vaping?
Vaping is defined as the inhale and exhale of the vapor produced by an electronic cigarette or similar device.
How does it work?
Traditional cigarettes use combustion (fire) to produce smoke. However, e-cigarettes use battery power to heat the liquid and create vapors. There are three main components of an e-cigarette. They are the battery, a cartridge filled with fluid, and the atomizer which heats the liquid. The fluid typically contains propylene glycol, glycerin, flavoring, and nicotine.
Regulations in Canada:
These products are not adequately regulated and monitored for quality control. Additionally, the concentration of nicotine may be improperly labeled. Other harmful substances may be found in the vaping liquid as well.
E-cigarette products sold in Canada are not legally allowed to make any health claims. However, one common claim is that they help with quitting smoking.
Regulations on where e-cigarettes may be used vary across Canada. However, some cities have banned their use in some public places.
Ontario laws state that electronic cigarettes cannot be sold to anyone under the age of 19. Retailers must have an Electronic Cigarette Identification sign on display which indicates the legal age of sale.
The research is still divided on whether or not e-cigarettes are a useful quit smoking aid. They are currently not approved by Health Canada for this use. While they may be less harmful than cigarettes, more evidence is needed. There are concerns that e-cigarettes may be a gateway to nicotine addiction and cigarette.
Vaping and youth:
Studies show that use of e-cigarettes make youth more likely to try cigarette smoking. The vapor liquids can be purchased in a variety of flavors. These flavours are enticing for younger users. Efforts have been made to de-normalize smoking in Canada. However, the increased use of e-cigarettes may be counteracting that movement.
Most of the risks associated with e-cigarettes are due to the adverse effects and addictive qualities of nicotine. More research is needed to determine the long-term risks from inhaling substances such as propylene glycol. Additionally, better regulation and labeling is required to limit health risks to those using these products.
At this time, dental professionals do not encourage the use of e-cigarettes. This is due to the lack of scientific research to prove their safety.