On December 9, Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health will report to the Board of Health on the health risks associated with vaping products. Vaping is the act of inhaling and exhaling an aerosol produced by a vaping product, such as an e cigarette. Vapour products contain many toxic substances that are harmful to health.

Evidence shows that vaping can lead to sudden and severe lung injury. Additives to the vaping liquid used in e-cigarettes are being investigated as a likely cause of the condition. As a result, Health Canada recently advised that non-smokers, people who are pregnant and young people should not use e-cigarettes and other vapour products.

Use of e-cigarettes and other vapour products is also strongly associated with subsequent tobacco cigarette smoking. A review of local Canadian data shows that 15 per cent of Canadians have tried a vaping product. In addition, from 2017 to 2018, there was a greater than 70 per cent increase in the number of Canadian youth using vapour products. This is concerning because the use of these products may threaten the progress that has been made in reducing smoking rates over time.

In addition to the potential health harms from vaping products, cases of acute e-cigarette or vaping-associated lung injury continue to be reported in the United States and Canada. As of November 20, 2019, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 2,290 lung injury cases and 47 confirmed deaths associated with the inhalation of aerosols from these products. Canadian health officials have reported three confirmed cases in Quebec and one in Ontario.

In light of current evidence, Toronto Public Health (TPH) recommends the federal government take action to prohibit vaping product advertising and promotion where minors have access, prohibit the sale of flavoured products in retail stores accessible to minors and set a limit on available nicotine concentrations in these products. Toronto Public Health also recommends a report back to the Board of Health on an amendment to the existing City of Toronto bylaws that prohibit smoking to also include vaping products.

“I am concerned about the health effects related to vaping and we need to create environments that prevent people from using these products and reduce the appeal to youth. I commend the Ontario government for recently re-enacting regulations to prohibit advertising and promotion at retail stores that are accessible to minors. More actions are needed to further protect the public from the health risks associated with these products,” said Dr. Eileen de Villa, Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health.

More information about the report is available at app.toronto.ca/tmmis/viewAgendaItemHistory.do?item=2019.HL12.3.

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