News release: Study confirms epidemic e-cigarette rates and increase in tobacco use among youth

Decades of successful tobacco control policy in danger of going up in smoke

(Ottawa) — Products that were once described as “cigarettes on training wheels” could unfortunately be living up to their description. According to new research from Dr. David Hammond at the University of Waterloo, youth vaping rates in Canada have increased significantly and, even more troubling, so have youth smoking rates. Heart & Stroke is calling on governments to take decisive action and quickly strengthen regulations.

In one year, vaping among youth skyrocketed by 74%, jumping from 8.4% to 14.6%. In the same timeframe, youth smoking rates escalated by 45%, from 10.7% to 15.5%. This is the first time that youth smoking rates in Canada have gone up substantially in decades and brings their rates to the same level as the general population (approximately 15% of people in Canada aged 15+).

“This study provides the disturbing evidence and confirms that vaping has become an epidemic among our youth. E-cigarettes are addicting a new generation to nicotine,” says Yves Savoie, CEO, Heart & Stroke. “We are very concerned that increased vaping will prove to be a gateway to smoking among youth and could reverse the hard fought advances made in tobacco control in Canada.”

“Nicotine is one of the most addictive drugs in the world; addiction occurs rapidly and once addicted, many people struggle for the rest of their lives to quit. The amount of nicotine delivered by vaping devices is higher than a conventional cigarette,” said Dr. Andrew Pipe, Professor in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Ottawa and Chair, Board of Directors for Heart & Stroke.

The findings, published in the British Medical Journal, examined vaping rates among youth aged 16 to 19 years in Canada, the U.S. and the U.K. between August 2017 and September 2018. After May 2018, when e-cigarettes with nicotine became legal in Canada, e-cigarette companies began to aggressively market their products which are appealing to youth. Youth vaping rates have not risen as dramatically in the U.K. where there are maximum nicotine limits and restrictions on marketing to youth.

Nicotine damages developing bodies and brains and increases the risk of heart attack. Tobacco remains the number one cause of preventable disease and death in Canada, despite decades of work on policy, public education and taxation changes. Tobacco kills an estimated 45,000 people in Canada annually.

About Heart & Stroke

Life. We don’t want you to miss it. That’s why Heart & Stroke leads the fight against heart disease and stroke. We must generate the next medical breakthroughs, so people in Canada don’t miss out on precious moments. Together, we are working to prevent disease, save lives and promote recovery through research, health promotion and public policy.

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Joshua Terry, Communications Manager (Ontario) 
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