Rise in number of teens vaping in Saskatchewan concerning to authorities

Red flags are being raised in Saskatchewan when it comes to vaping, particularly among teens.

Dr. Erika Penz, a respirologist with the Saskatchewan Health Authority, said the number of youth vaping is alarming.

“The rise in electronic cigarettes among our youth is frightening,” Penz said.

“In 2013 in Saskatchewan there was about 20 per cent of youth were reporting using electronic cigarettes.”

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Data from the Canadian government said those rates have now doubled to 41 per cent.

Penz said 15 per cent of those are regular users or vapers.

Part of the concern is how widely the products are available and the ease they can be hidden.

The Juul, one of the top-selling e-cigarettes, is a slick, USB-style device that is discrete.

What is worrying to Dr. Michael Szafron, an assistant professor of public health at the University of Saskatchewan, is the amount of nicotine in some electronic cigarettes.

Szafron said those who use e-cigarettes will get almost five times the amount of nicotine than from smoking.

“A cigarette you would smoke they estimate contains 12 milligrams of nicotine,” Szafron said.

“With the Juul, the amount is over 50 milligrams.”

The Juul contains the equivalent nicotine of 20 cigarettes and can be easily consumed in a day.

Szafron said that will put more people at risk of developing an addiction.

“I think it’s going to be putting a huge portion of our population at risk for an addiction to nicotine that is far worse than any addiction to nicotine that we’ve seen in respect to cigarettes,” he said.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced on Nov. 15 sweeping new restrictions on flavoured tobacco products, including electronic cigarettes, in an effort to prevent a new generation of nicotine addicts.

Juul said it will continue to sell its products at Canadian convenience stores and vape shops.

With files from Global’s Leslie Young and Mike Drolet, and The Canadian Press

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