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Smoking and Vaping

Hey Parents, Let's Talk About Vaping

While many youth and young adults understand the dangers of smoking, their new-age counterparts, vapes (also known as e-cigarettes), have been marketed as a less harmful alternative. These devices appeal to technology-loving young people who are often curious to try them because of the thousands of fruit and candy e-liquid flavours. The result has been a rise in their popularity among this age group.

Between 2017 and 2019, past year vaping doubled among Ontario students in grades 7-12 (from 11% to 23%). Locally, over one third of students in grades 7-12 reported using an e-cigarette in the past year, with this number jumping to more than 40% when we look at only high school students.

It's clear that despite laws that make it illegal to sell or supply vapour devices and e-liquid to anyone under 19, teens still access these products, with over 50% reporting that friends are their most common source.

This page offers information about the addictiveness of vapour products, the industry behind the devices, and how parents and other caregivers can help prevent young people from becoming addicted to nicotine through vaping or support them to quit.

Nicotine, the same addictive drug found in conventional cigarettes is also found in the e-liquid used in vapour devices, but often at much higher levels. Many manufacturers of vapour devices are using new methods to turn nicotine into a salt. This change allows them to add more nicotine to e-liquid in a form that is more easily absorbed by the body and less harsh for the user.

This combination makes these products very addictive, and the consequences can be more serious for kids and teens for several reasons, such as:

  • Their developing brains become addicted to nicotine faster, with less exposure compared to adults.
  • Nicotine changes brain development and affects things like memory, concentration, impulse control, and can even cause behavioural problems.
  • Once addicted, youth who vape may be more likely to start smoking cigarettes.
  • Becoming addicted to nicotine at an early age may also make young people more likely to develop addictions to other drugs.

As if this isn't reason enough to help prevent young people from starting to vape, we also know that vaping has long-term health effects such as lung damage similar to damage caused by smoking cigarettes.

Smoking rates are the lowest they have been in almost 20 years, which is great news for everyone except the tobacco industry. They needed to reinvent themselves and vapour devices were the perfect product for many reasons, such as:

  • They appeal to people's love of technology (especially youth).
  • They eliminate the need to burn commercial tobacco (such as cigarettes).
  • E-liquids are available in 1000s of flavours.
  • They keep people addicted to nicotine.

Unfortunately, the tobacco industry has a history of lying about their products' addictiveness and health effects, as well as who they are recruiting as customers (like teens and other vulnerable people). When promoting cigarettes, the industry spent billions of dollars on questionable marketing techniques to successfully addict generations of people to nicotine.

Once vapour devices became associated with the tobacco industry, it didn't take long for them to be marketed using the same old tricks the industry had perfected in the past (e.g., using cartoon characters, fruit and candy flavours, and product placement in movies and other media).

Federal and provincial laws are slowly being put in place to protect young people. However, so far, they're not as protective as the laws in place for cigarettes.

Parents and other caring adults play an important role in helping kids make decisions about their health, such as vaping. In fact, teens say their parents are THE BIGGEST influence in their lives.

As a parent or other caring adult, you may not be aware that your child is vaping. The devices can be small and look like other things like a computer memory stick. Since vapour devices do not need to be lit like cigarettes, it allows a person to vape without being noticed as easily.

These factors and the industry's marketing tactics targeting young people mean parents and caregivers need to educate themselves about vaping in order to engage the young people in their lives in conversation about these devices.

Talking early and often is one of the best ways to support young people in making informed decisions about vaping, and ideally prevent young people from becoming addicted to nicotine through vaping or support them to quit.

You can find more information about vaping and tips for talking with your children on the Parents page at

With youth vaping on the rise, more and more young people are getting addicted to nicotine. Quitting vaping is one of the best things young people will ever do for themselves and there is help to quit, developed especially for youth!

  • Quash (free app found at Apple Store and on Google Play): helps youth quit on their own.
  • Stop Vaping Challenge (free app found at Apple Store and Google Play): helps youth quit with support from friends.
  • Plan Your Quit: this tool can be used to help youth plan their quit.
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