Vaping is not harmless, according to Northern Health.

“There are metals found in vaping that are being inhaled into people’s lungs, and there’s nicotine, which puts people at risk of addiction,” says Lindsay Willoner, Northern Health’s Regional Nursing Lead, Tobacco Reduction. “Vaping has only been on the market in Canada for about a decade, so we don’t know the long-term effects on public health.”

According to the results of the 2018 BC Adolescent Health Survey conducted by the McCreary Centre Society, 21% of all BC students reported vaping with nicotine, and 19% without nicotine.

With vaping, there’s no burning. Instead, the vaping device heats a liquid and converts it to a vapour that the user inhales. This vapour is often flavoured and can contain nicotine.

“Because it looks like it’s smokeless and might not give off any odor, people may think there’s really no harm with it,” says Willoner. “But really, the e-juice or vape may have addictive substances in it, so it doesn’t come without harm.”

This month Health Canada issued a warning for Canadians who vape. They’re advising that users watch for symptoms of pulmonary illness following a spike in illnesses and death linked to vaping in the United States.

Northern Health said short-term effects of vaping include coughing, sneezing, increased heart rate, and worsening of asthma symptoms. Long-term effects can include lung disease, heart disease, and some types of cancer.

The BC Lung Association reports that children and adults have been poisoned by swallowing the e-juice or absorbing it through their skin.

There’s also “popcorn lung,” caused by the buttery flavouring found in some vaping products — it can cause bronchiolitis obliterans, a serious and irreversible lung disease.

So far, Health Canada has not had any reports of similar illnesses here.

(files by Cole Kelly, MyPGNow)