Vaping: Gaining momentum or losing steam

Andrew Flinn vaping despite new health concerns linked to e-cigarettes (Alex Dascalu/AQ)

When she was 15, first-year St. Thomas University student Taylor Galbraith said she started vaping. She googled some of the effects vaping and thought it would help with her anxiety. She stopped in 2017 when she realized that wasn’t the case.

“I quit because I realized I needed to grow up,” Galbraith said.

Still, Galbraith believes vaping is better than smoking cigarettes.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed on Sept. 12 that six Americans died from a mysterious lung disease associated with e-cigarettes. The CDC said patients were hospitalized with abnormally low blood-oxygen levels and some experienced nausea, vomiting, abnormal pain, diarrhea, fever, chills or fatigue. Sometimes, patients experienced chest pains or shortness of breath before they were hospitalized. They reported 450 possible cases of vaping-related lung illnesses. 380 of these cases are under investigation by the CDC.

There are no reported deaths in Canada according to a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation article.

The World Health Organization said the number of global vapers increased from seven million in 2011 to 41 million in 2018.

Andrew Flinn, a third-year student at the University of New Brunswick, said the number of illnesses related to vaping was lower than he thought. 

“[Vaping] is not nearly as bad as smoking cigarettes if it’s only 450 people,” Flinn said.

As of Sept. 12, the World Health Organization confirmed six deaths in relation to vaping (Alex Dascalu/AQ)

The CDC said more than 480,000 Americans have died from smoking cigarettes.

Flinn began smoking eight months ago because the girl he was seeing at the time vaped. He said e-cigarettes are more popular than ever amongst his age group.

Flinn said he’s known people to start vaping before ever smoking cigarettes because it’s cheaper.

He said he enjoys vaping because he believes it helps relieve his stress, though notes it could be because he’s “addicted to nicotine.”

“I think you trick your brain into thinking it’s a stress reliever,” Flinn said. 

Stacey Taylor, a nurse practitioner at the UNB Student Health Centre said before health officials discovered the harm of cigarettes, companies made smoking seem cool and fun. One way companies do this is by introducing different flavoured e-cigarettes, a move that’s been criticized.

Taylor Galbraith stopped vaping in 2017 when she realized it didn’t help with her anxiety(Jacob Moore/AQ)

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Conservative Party Leader Andrew Scheer and New Democratic Party Leader Jagmeet Singh all said they would look into the data on flavoured e-cigarettes before they decide on what to do.

“They’re targeting younger people by making these things look like they wouldn’t be harmful,” Taylor said.

“How could something with a unicorn on the front [and] that smell like strawberries hurt you?”