Health & Wellness

More Teens Are Taking Up E-Cigarettes

A study has found that vaping is on the rise among Canadian teens

Photo: iStock/licsiren.


A new study published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) shows a huge jump in the number of Canadians between 16 and 19 years old who have taken up e-cigarettes. Between 2017 and 2018, vaping among teens went from 8.4 % to 14.6%—a 74% increase.

Researchers led by David Hammond of the University of Waterloo (ON) surveyed 7,891 teens over the summers of 2017 and 2018.

While cigarette smoking among teens in Canada has been on the decline, JUUL and other nicotine salt e-cigarettes—often marketed as being healthier alternatives to tobacco products—have been gaining in popularity.

One of the most striking of the study’s findings was that just one month after JUUL hit the market, the proportion of teens using it went from zero to 10%.

“The popularity of products such as JUUL among adolescents could be due to several factors, including the modern, sleek appearance of the device and highly effective social marketing,” the study says.

Vaping is also more appealing to young people because the smoke isn’t as rough on the lungs. There’s also a wide assortment of flavours to choose from, including fruits, candies, and sweet and savoury flavours that mimic desserts such as doughnuts and cookie-dough.

The BMJ report expresses concern that vaping could lead to teens taking up smoking instead.

“Though the impact of vaping products on smoking rates remains highly contentious, it is unfortunate that the characteristics that enhance the effectiveness of e-cigarettes as smoking cessation aids—namely, efficient nicotine delivery—also increase their potential to promote addiction among young people,” the report says.

The study’s authors remain cautious though, saying that other factors may also be involved. They speculate that the legalization of marijuana and its increased acceptance in Canadian culture may contribute to teens taking up smoking. Since tobacco is frequently mixed with marijuana, many choose to smoke cigarettes soon after experimenting with marijuana.

The Canadian Cancer Society expressed alarm over the findings and is demanding that more be done to limit the sale of e-cigarettes to young people.

“E-cigarettes are supposed to be for adult smokers who have been unable to quit [tobacco],” a Cancer Society senior policy analyst told CTV. “But the results of this new study regarding youth trends are of tremendous concern. Given the progress that has been made to reduce youth smoking, we must avoid a new generation of teenagers becoming addicted to nicotine through vaping products.”