Opinion: Vaping – a health crisis in the making? 

Vaping is big news these days – on the one hand it’s billed as a way to move smokers off conventional tobacco products, on the other as the latest threat to our collective lungs. Where do you sit in this debate? 

First of all it may surprise you to know that there’s not much new about vaping. It first appeared in Canada about 2004. In May 2018 it actually became legal to sell such products containing nicotine. And in mid-December, cannabis vaping products will also become legal in our country. The kicker being, as with all controlled substances, only adults – in our province anyone over the age of 19 – may actually buy these products. 

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A recent experience I had speaks loudly of the effectiveness of the law. A young woman slinking down in front of me on a public bus – the Port Mann Express – suddenly had a fit of the giggles precipitated by a cloud of sweet smelling vapour coming from the tube she and her seatmate were sharing. The rest of the story is the woman was the mother of three children ranging in age from an infant boy to girl toddlers, the oldest being about four. The kids were on the bus with her sharing the same air space. 

It doesn’t take a genius to realize a baby’s lungs should never be exposed to anything except fresh air. How, I wonder, is it even possible to get these products in B.C.? Our government makes mewling noises about controlled substances being the responsibility of Ottawa, yet instead of launching a sustained campaign against vaping, our solution is to tax the stuff to the max. So my guess is the exposure of little bodies to the pot vapes will only increase over the next few years. 

How safe is vaping? The jury’s still out, but if recent health scares being billed as popcorn lungs in vape users are any indication, we’re looking at yet another disaster in the making. The tobacco people were pretty smart. Use of traditional products was waning, so along came a hip new way to get nicotine (and now pot) that does away with two of the biggest deterrents, smell and yellow fingers. A new market that comes with the same old drawback – addiction. 

Is it too late to stop? Perhaps, but we’ll never know until we try. We owe it to our babies.

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