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Vaping a dangerous game – Mountain View Gazette

Vaping and vaping deaths have been in the news recently. Over the past few months there has been at least 19 deaths in the United States that can be linked to the electronic cigarettes also known as vaping.

A “vaper” or electronic cigarette, a.k.a. e-cig, is a handheld battery-powered vaporizer that simulates smoking and provides some of the similar aspects of smoking without burning tobacco. Vape devices are available at several stores in the Mountain View County district.

Vaping is the inhaling of a vapour. The devices have a liquid that usually contains nicotine, flavouring and chemicals. The liquid is heated into a vapour, which is inhaled through the device. People also vape THC, the part of cannabis that gets you “high.”

Although vaping products are only allowed to be sold to adults, they are often flavoured making them appealing to teens and kids. This is something that is being looked at in the U.S. as government officials look to curb the problems stemming from vaping.

Alberta’s provincial government recently announced that it will be looking into a review of the province’s tobacco and smoking legislation, with a focus on regulating vaping.

“Like most Albertans, I’m concerned about the rising use of vaping products, especially among young people, and recent reports of severe lung disease associated with these products,” said Tyler Shandro, minister of health, in the release. “We don’t know yet what the links are, but we know vaping has risks. We need evidence-based regulation of tobacco and related products, including vaping products.”

Alberta’s current smoking and tobacco legislation doesn’t specifically address vaping in public or in the workplace.

The hardest thing about regulating vaping is that it is still so new. Tobacco has been around for decades and we all know now how bad it is for you: lung cancer, emphysema, COPD and other respiratory ailments. Each day, 100 Canadians die of a smoking-related illness, according to Health Canada.

Vaping is often looked at as an alternative to smoking. A way to curb that addiction to nicotine and eventually possibly kick the habit.

For a non-smoker and non-vaper, certainly vaping is less intrusive to someone nearby. You don’t get the billows of second-hand smoke like with tobacco that can be just as deadly.

Since vaping is basically in its infancy, the long-term effects on the body are not known. Certainly in recent months, the number of hospitalizations and deaths is cause for great concern.

According to Health Canada, vaping with nicotine can lead to addiction and can affect memory and concentration. There are also health risks linked to other chemicals found in vaping products such as vegetable glycerine and propylene glycol.

There is also a concern that people who vape might get something called popcorn lung from being exposed to a chemical used to give butter-like and other flavours to food and vaping products.

In addition to the deaths, there have been nearly 1,000 possible cases of lung disease associated with e-cigarettes in the United States. The director of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in the U.S. said in a statement that, “vaping exposes users to many different substances for which we have little information about related harms — including flavorings, nicotine, cannabinoids and solvents.”

At this point, no one has determined a singular cause for these illnesses and deaths. Although, apparently 75 per cent of the 1,000 cases of illness due to vaping were from THC-containing products.

One argument for vaping, if you call it that, is that everything is going to kill you anyway. That may be true, in a simplistic way: Eating fatty foods can lead to heart problems, circulation issues and more, drinking leads to issues with your liver and heart, eggs have cholesterol, and so on. Heck, going outside in the sun can give you skin cancer or you could get bitten by a mosquito with the Zika virus.

As long as people know the facts and the dangers, as adults we’re entitled to our own bad decisions. I just couldn’t see anyone wanting to subject their lungs to such danger. Not being able to breathe sucks. But if you want to vape, fine, as long as you know the risks. If you also want cannabis (THC) there are other, safer ways than vaping.

And, finally, it’s best to avoid the “black market” when it comes to vape products, as you never really know what’s inside the cartridges.


– Craig Lindsay is the reporter for the Mountain View Gazette

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