All over North America more teens are vaping to the point that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration calls it epidemic. Canadian medical professionals are now also calling for urgent action on the marketing of vaping products (iStock)

Vaping: First case of serious lung illness in Canada

After reports of now seven vaping related deaths in the U.S and hundreds of cases of severe lung illnesses, the first such case has been reported in Canada.

Doctors on Wednesday said an Ontario teenager who reportedly was vaping daily, fell ill and was sent to hospital and subsequently placed on life-support.

The young patient who has not been named, has since been released from hospital and is doing well.

Dr Christopher Mackie, Medical Officer of Health, Middlesex-London Health Unit announcing what is believed to be the first case of severe illness related to vaping. (CP)

In the majority, but not all, of the cases in the U.S. severe pulmonary issues have involved vaping THC oil.  THC is the active chemical in cannabis that provides the “high”. In some cases the oil has a thickening agent added, vitamin E acetate oil. When heated in the e-cigarette the oil can enter the lungs  and medical specialists have noted that oils are not supposed to inhaled. The alveoli in the lungs facilitate the transfer of gases, but an oil film can create a barrier and prevent that gas transfer resulting in respiratory problems.

One health expert says vaping among Canadian youth has risen dramatically (CBC)

Today, a coalition of some major and influential medical professional groups in Canada released a public statement urging the federal political parties to enact an emergency interim order to place vaping products under the same restrictions as tobacco. They note that the level of nicotine in the “e-juice” can in some cases be much higher than in actual cigarettes.

The statement says that currently the federal law allows promotions for vaping products on television, radio, billboards, public transit hubs, convenience stores, social media, newspapers and other mainstream media. It allows manufacturers to entice youth and non-smokers with attractive flavours, give the products away and imposes no obligations for nicotine limits or health warnings on packages.  It goes on to note that, “One-fifth of high school aged kids report that they are using vaping products, as are one-seventh  of children who are only 13 and 14 years old.”

“This crisis was created by inadequate regulation and irresponsible marketing. The relaxed rules set by Parliament last year allowed tobacco and nicotine companies to flood the market and promote these attractive, inexpensive, flavourful, kid-friendly devices through social media, on TV and through other means seen by young people.” Ms. Flory Doucas, Co-Director and Spokesperson, Quebec Coalition for Tobacco Control

The group includes the Canadian Cancer Society, Canadian Lung Association, Canadian Medical Association, Heart & Stroke Action on Smoking and Health (Alberta), Quebec Coalition for Tobacco Control, Ontario Campaign for Action on Tobacco, and Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada.

Dr. Sandy Buchman, president of the Canadian Medical Association announcing the coalition call to take action on vaping (CMA website)

They say that because of the election and requirements of forming a new government such restrictions could usually take a year to implement, leaving Canadians unprotected. The group is seeking a commitment that within 60 days of being elected whichever party forms the government they will enact an interim order under the Department of Health Act,

On the heels of the respiratory illnesses and deaths in the U.S., the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) is expected to announce in new restrictions in the coming weeks on the sale of flavoured vaping products.

India has banned e-cigarettes, and products have begun to disappear from Chinese online marketplaces.

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