Vapour Products & Vaping

Vapour Products & Vaping

What are vapour products and what is vaping?

Vaping is inhaling aerosol or vapour produced by using vapour product devices. Vapour products are rechargeable, battery-powered devices that heat liquid into an aerosol that the user inhales into the mouth and lungs, where it is absorbed into the bloodstream. Vapour products do not contain tobacco; however, they may contain high concentrations of nicotine.  

Vapour products have many names including e-cigarettes, vape pens, vapes, mods (box or mod), tanks, e-hookahs and e-nics. The four main parts to a vapour product are a lithium battery, an atomizer, a cartridge or tank and a mouthpiece. The lithium battery powers the atomizer to heat the liquid in the cartridge/tank into an aerosol which the user inhales through the mouthpiece.

Vape pen

What’s in the E-Juice?

Most vaping liquids and substances are liquids and are commonly referred to as "e-juice" or "e-liquid."  

Vapour products mostly contain:

  • Propylene glycol
  • Vegetable glycerin
  • Flavor additives
  • May or may not contain nicotine

Propylene glycol (PG) is a clear odourless colourless liquid and has a faintly sweet taste. It is commonly used as a food additive found in packaged foods, pet food and tobacco as an emulsifier and stabilizer to preserve moisture. PG is also used in cosmetic and household products including pharmaceuticals such as asthma nebulizers, shampoo and shaving products. The long term effects of inhaling PG is not known. PG provides the throat hit of the inhalation.
 
Vegetable glycerin (VG) or glycerine or glycerol, like glycol, is a clear odourless, colourless and sweet–tasting liquid derived from vegetable fats.  It is added to food, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. VG provides the vapour or cloud that is produced from exhalation from vapour products.

Flavourings: The addition of flavours disguise the chemical taste and smell of vapour products which makes vaping very appealing and desirable to youth.


What’s in the Aerosol?

While vapour products may contain fewer harmful chemicals than smoke, they still have harmful chemicals in them.

Chemicals identified in aerosol include:

•    Particulate matter that can be inhaled deep into the lungs
•    Flavourings such as diacetyl, a chemical linked to a serious, irreversible lung disease
•    Volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) such as benzene, ethanol, alcohol
•    Tobacco nitrosamine such as nicotine and tobacco alkaloids
•    Carbonyls such as formaldehyde, aldehyde
•    Cancer–causing chemicals
•    Heavy metals such as nickel, chromium and lead

Chemicals in the aerosol can be different than in the e-juice. Once heated, the e-juice goes through chemical reactions that form new compounds not previously found in the liquid such as formaldehyde. 

The aerosol is not water vapour as many youth and adults believe. 


Are vapour products safe?

Vapour products effect health.

Youth are at most risk using vapour products with nicotine due to the developing brain up until age 25. Nicotine changes the way synapses are formed altering adolescent brain development impacting concentration, impulse control, decision-making, cognitive performance, mood, and nicotine withdrawal.  Youth who use vapour products with nicotine are at increased risk to use other substances such as alcohol, tobacco and cannabis.

Nicotine is highly addictive, causes physical dependence and has detrimental effects on developing fetuses. 

Vaping using nicotine affects breathing and increases a person’s risk of myocardial infarction increasing heart rate and blood pressure and constricting blood vessels. Respiratory symptoms can develop including wheezing, shortness of breath, and coughing.   

New chemicals are created when the e-juice is heated and can create poisonous chemicals such as formaldehyde and acetaldehyde. Nicotine, chemicals, particulate matter, volatile organic compounds and cancer causing carcinogens in the aerosol can be inhaled by others in the second-hand aerosol. 

Many of the toxic and cancer-causing chemicals in tobacco and the tobacco smoke form when tobacco is burned. Vaping products do not produce smoke, contain tobacco or involve burning. Except for nicotine, vaping products typically contain a fraction of the 7,000 chemicals found in tobacco smoke, lower levels of several of the harmful chemicals found in smoke.

Lithium-ion batteries used to power vapour products can explode causing injury and fires. 

Vapour products may entice former smokers back to nicotine dependency, helping normalize nicotine dependency, and representing smoking as a socially acceptable public practice.

The long-term health effects of vapour products are unknown. 


Outbreak of EVALI - Vaping Related Lung Illness in U.S.  

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continue to monitor the outbreak of EVALI – E-cigarette Vaping Associated Lung Injury causing over 47 deaths and 2290 lung illnesses in the United States.


Vaping to help quit smoking 

As a quitting smoking and harm reduction tool for current adult smokers, vapour products are yet to be proven as effective cessation aides to quitting smoking. Health Canada has approved several forms of nicotine replacement products – for example inhalers, mist, gum and patches, but not electronic cigarettes. Nicotine users may be inhaling more harmful substances than their tobacco products. The longer-term risks of exposure to vapour products is unknown.

If you are a smoker, quitting smoking is the best thing you can do to improve your health. There is support available to help you quit from QuitNow.  

If you are a smoker, the BC Smoking Cessation Program covers 12 weeks (84 days in a row) of free nicotine replacement therapy to all British Columbia residents each calendar year. BC residents who have active Medical Services Plan coverage can visit any pharmacy to access Nicorette gum or lozenges, Nicoderm patches or an inhaler. 

More information about vaping and quitting smoking can be found on Health Canada’s website.


Vapour Product Resources 

Vapour Product PowerPoint Presentation 

  • Purpose: The purpose of the presentation is to increase basic knowledge of vapour products and provide the best evidence available to date with respect to their potential harm to health.
  • Audience and Customizing: This presentation is designed for a general audience which can include school, community or municipal audiences. The presentation consists of nearly 50 slides and notes pages of which users may edit by including or excluding slides to meet the specific needs of their target audience.
  • Data: This presentation contains national and provincial data.
     

Vapour Product Online Provincial Resource Inventory:

This is an inventory list of provincial and evidence-based vapour product online resources available for download.

The purpose of this online inventory is to provide a one stop shop consolidated resource for individuals, schools, organizations and communities to have quick and easy access to information around vapour products. This online resources works to enhance knowledge and understanding, provide teaching and educational tools, and to enable better informed decision-making in regards to vapour products and its overall impact on health.

The general public, youth, parents and families, schools and teachers, health care providers and indigenous communities are able to easily identify the most relevant and beneficial resources for their group or population. 

Organizations on this list include: 

Island Health    
HealthLink BC
BC Centre for Disease Control    
Healthy Schools BC
BC Lung Association    
iMinds
BC Smoking Cessation Program     
McCreary Centre Society
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (U.S.)     
Ontario Tobacco Research Unit
First Nation Health Authority     
QuitNow Smoking Cessation Program 
Health Canada    

Additional Research        

Hammond, David. BMJ 2019;365:l2219.  Prevalence of vaping and smoking among adolescents in Canada, England, and the United States: repeat national cross sectional surveys.
Health Canada, Summary of results for the Canadian Student Tobacco, Alcohol and Drugs Survey 2018-19. January 2020.
Gotts, Jeffrey E. Jordt, Sven-Eric. McConnell, Rob. Tarran, Robert. BMJ 2019;366:l5275. What are the respiratory effects of e-cigarettes?

  • Purpose: The purpose of the presentation is to increase basic knowledge of vapour products and provide the best evidence available to date with respect to their potential harm to health.
  • Audience and Customizing: This presentation is designed for a general audience which can include school, community or municipal audiences. The presentation consists of nearly 50 slides and notes pages of which users may edit by including or excluding slides to meet the specific needs of their target audience.
  • Data: This presentation contains national and provincial data.
     

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