Nicotine by far the most commonly used vaping product in Canada: survey

Vaping especially popular among young men

A new survey says eight out of 10 Canadians who are vaping are vaping nicotine.

This finding appears in a new survey from Statistics Canada, the first of its kind tracking detailed information about vaping. The report defines it as the “act of inhaling and exhaling vapour produced by a device such as an electronic cigarette (e-cigarette), vape mod, vaporizer or vape pen.”

These vaping devices heat a liquid into a vapour, which then turns into aerosol. E-liquids can come in various flavours and may or may not contain nicotine, but according to Health Canada, the majority of vaping products contain nicotine, and the behaviour can lead to nicotine addiction and may also increase the risk of exposure to other harmful chemicals.

RELATED: Victoria vaping shops hit hard by reports of vape illness, say the regulated industry not to blame

Among those who vaped in the 30 days before the survey, 60 per cent believed that vaping products were less harmful than cigarettes, 20 per cent thought that they were similarly harmful, nine per cent felt they were more harmful, and 10 per cent said that they did not know.

Equally telling is the perception of vaping among those among those who have never vaped. While thirteen per cent perceive vaping as less harmful than cigarettes, 33 per consider it just as harmful as smoking, with 23 per cent deeming it more harmful than smoking. Close to one-third (31 per cent) did not know.

In other words, many of those who vape do so under the impression that their behaviour is less harmful relative to smoking cigarettes, while non-vapers suspect that vaping is just another delivery method for nicotine.

The survey suggests as much in finding that the vast majority of Canadians vaping are actually vaping nicotine, threatening to undo decades of public health messaging around the harmful effects of nicotine.

RELATED: Canadian officials monitor reports of vaping-linked illnesses in the U.S

If eight out of 10 users of vaping device use nicotine, this share is even higher among younger users, with 87 per cent of users aged 15 to 19 vaping nicotine. The corresponding share of users aged 20 to 24 is 86 per cent.

“In addition, about 1 in 10 users aged 15 to 19 and aged 20 to 24 reported that they once tried a vaping device without knowing whether or not it contained nicotine,” it reads. In other words, they are confused about what they are consuming, rendering them susceptible.

These figures also preview another key finding from the survey. Vaping enjoys greater popularity among younger than older individuals.

Fifteen per cent of teenagers aged 15 to 19 said they vaped in the 30 days preceding the survey, and more than a third (36 per cent) reported having tried it at some point in their lives.

RELATED: B.C. school trustees ask for provincial, federal help to end student vaping

“Among young adults aged 20 to 24, the proportion of those who had vaped in the 30 days preceding the survey was also 15 per cent and close to half (48 per cent) said that they had tried it at some point,” it reads.

By contrast, less than three per cent of adults aged 25 and older reported using a vaping product in the 30 days preceding the survey, with 12 per cent saying that they had tried vaping at some point.

Men are also more likely to vape than women.

Reasons for vaping vary by age group.

“The most common reasons for vaping among users aged 15 to 19 were ‘because they wanted to try’ (29 per cent) and ‘because they enjoyed it’ (20 per cent),” it reads. “About one in five (21 per cent) said that they vaped to reduce stress, while 9 per cent said that they did so to quit or cut down on smoking.”

Older users, meanwhile, “were significantly” more likely than younger users to vape because they want to reduce or quit smoking, with more than half of those aged 25 and older citing this as their main reason.


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