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Dangers of smoking and vaping

Commercial tobacco, lung cancer, and secondhand smoke

Smoking is the number one preventable cause of death in Canada. It kills more than 37,000 Canadians each year - six times more than vehicle collisions, suicides and murders combined.

E-cigarettes/vapes have exploded on to the market and have become popular with youth and young adults. There is a lot we don’t know yet about the long-term effects of vaping and the value of e-cigarettes as a quit smoking support tool. It’s important to get the facts and learn more about e-cigarettes, described as less harmful than smoking burning tobacco, but definitely not proven to be harmless.

Waterpipe, hookah, chew, dip, spit are all ways to use commercial tobacco industry products. All are harmful to your health, are addictive and increase your risk for cancers. They are not safe alternatives to smoking.

What you are inhaling

Cigarettes contain more than 4,000 chemicals, many of which can cause cancers and other diseases. (Research is still underway to determine the number and types of harmful chemicals and metals inhaled when vaping.) With every cigarette, you are inhaling:

  • Tar, Mercury, Lead
  • Acetone (nail polish remover), Arsenic (white ant poison)
  • Hydrogen cyanide (poisonous gas)

Leading cause of lung cancer

Smoking is related to more than 85% of lung cancer cases in Canada. The risk of getting lung cancer depends on how long you smoke, your age when you started and how much you smoke each day.

Secondhand smoke

Secondhand smoke (SHS) is the smoke created by the burning of a tobacco product. SHS is a main risk factor for lung cancer among non-smokers. Health Canada estimates that more than 800 non-smokers die from breathing SHS each year. There is no safe level of exposure and if you can smell it, you are breathing it.

If you live in an apartment or condominium and your neighbours smoke, you can be exposed to SHS through shared ventilation, coming in windows and balcony doors and through receptacles and other openings in the walls. The health unit helps landlords and tenants work to make their buildings No Smoking (anything) to protect the health of everyone who lives there.

Secondhand smoke is extra dangerous for women from the start of puberty until they have a baby, and increases their risk of getting breast cancer.

Secondhand smoke and children

Secondhand smoke contains toxic materials that can cause cancers. Our children are especially at risk because they breathe faster, so take in more for their body size than an adult. If you are pregnant, smoking robs an unborn baby of needed oxygen and other nutrients.

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