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Bathroom doors stand out, students are taken to the principal's office, and teachers grab shippers in class while vaping craze invades Canadian schools.
"I would say it's uncontrollable," said George Kourtis, program coordinator for health and physical education at the Toronto District School Board.
He recalled the story of a student sent for the third time to the office of the school principal. The main one was called for a moment, leaving the spraying device confiscated on the desk.
"He came out of there for 10 seconds and the child picked it up and took off," said Kourtis. "He asked the child and he said:" Sir, he was standing there, I had to. "
Stories like this raise fears that vaping will create a new generation of nicotine addiction, although many hope to be able to replace cigarettes and end the ravages of death and tobacco-related illnesses.
Is it enough to worry? You're right – David Hammond, Professor of Public Health at the University of Waterloo
"That's why we're having such a vicious debate," said David Hammond, a researcher at the University of Waterloo, Ontario, who found evidence of the dramatic increase in the number of young vapots in Canada.
Hammond discovered another disturbing trend in his data: the smoking rate among youth is increasing for the first time in decades.
He showed the research to Health Canada, but it has not been published yet. He is cautious about the discovery and is waiting to see if the same result is found in other studies.
Professor David Hammond is studying tobacco trends in young people. He showed Health Canada his most recent unpublished data showing an increase in vaping and smoking among youth. (Craig Chivers / CBC)
"Is it enough to worry you're right," he said.
This week, a study at JAMA Network open now Evidence has shown that vaping increases the chances that young people, even at low risk, will try smoking, "highlighting the concern that e-cigarettes could re-normalize smoking behaviors and erode decades of progress in reducing smoking. among young people, "concluded the authors of the study.
Most of this data was collected before the elegant and powerful nicotine treatment devices, Juul and Vype, swept the market. Both products are backed by tobacco companies, and both are so effective at mimicking the buzz of the cigarette that Hammond thinks they could have heightened the risks for young people.
"I think this has helped bring the kids to the market and get them to use these products in a way that is starting to look not like an experiment but with regular use and potentially with signs. addiction and dependency. "
A teenager addicted to nicotine could try a cigarette
The fear is that a nicotine-dependent teenager who does not have access to a vape at the beginning of his urge can be easily tempted by a handy cigarette.
"When you do not take this nicotine, the symptoms of hunger begin to develop," said Dr. Andrew Pipe, a smoking cessation specialist physician at the University of Ottawa Heart Institute. Ottawa.
"You start to feel restless, then gradually the withdrawal symptoms come in. Now you start feeling physically uncomfortable, you may have a headache, you can become very irritable, so they are going to get nicotine. "
So now we have a big mess.- Neil Collishaw, Director of Research, Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada
It has always been assumed that the risk to young people would be offset by the reduction of smoking among adults. But the vapo sound halo is more based on wishful thinking than on evidence.
"People were going forward, while I would have preferred a much more cautious approach," said Neil Collishaw, director of research at Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada. "So now we have a big mess."
& # 39; Hope & # 39; without evidence
More than a decade ago, burglar alarms were introduced in Canada as specialty stores began to appear across the country. Until last May, it was illegal in Canada to sell a spray product containing nicotine.
"What has happened in the meantime, is that they were illegal but tolerated," said Collishaw. "Health Canada has not continued law enforcement." Instead, they have changed [the law] and made the legal products – always in the hope, but with very little evidence, that they would help. "
Students outside of West Carleton High School, in the Ottawa area, carry electronic cigarettes. (Hallie Cotnam / CBC)
Health Canada states on advice sheet for parents, "vaping is meant to help smokers quit". But whose "intention" is not clear. Until now, no vaping company has asked Health Canada for permission to market electronic cigarettes as an anti-smoking product, such as nicotine gum or patches.
And vaping is not yet widely used in smoking cessation programs. Doctors are reluctant to encourage them in part because they are not certain of the ingredients contained in the various "juice" vaping.
"The content of these products is a Wild West show," Pipe said.
New search published This week, electronic cigarettes used as part of an intensive smoking cessation program were used, as well as other methods.
"In all our cessation supports – nicotine replacement therapy, chewing gum, patches, drugs, medications and counseling – we will not go beyond 20%," said Professor Robert Schwartz, Researcher on Tobacco Control at the University of Toronto. . "It's because it's so addictive – it's as addictive as heroin."
By using a number of smokers in the UK who wanted to quit smoking, the researchers assigned a group to use nicotine substitutes, including patches and gum, as well as another group of Electronic cigarettes. After one year, 18% of electronic cigarette users abstained, compared with about 10% of stamp and chewing gum users.
But most people who used the electronic cigarette to quit continued to exaggerate after one year.
"These are smokers who have come with the intention of quitting, so they are probably very motivated.So they are very motivated to stop smoking and that they are safe." are running out of steam for another year, this is causing concern, "said Schwartz. "They are clearly still addicted to nicotine."
"Bloody difficult addiction"
And finally, most smokers continued to smoke.
"That's why we always talk about people trying to quit smoking a hundred years after we know it's a problem – because it's an extremely hard-to-beat addiction." Hammond said.
So far, the data shows that many people who are starting to smoke also continue to smoke, creating a whole new category of "dual users".
"Even if you smoke a little, you still risk having major health effects," Schwartz said.
"These products can help some people quit," Hammond said. "They are not the revolution suggested by some supporters."
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