A construction worker exhales after using a vaping device while eating lunch on the steps at Robson Square, in Vancouver, on Monday, March 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

A construction worker exhales after using a vaping device while eating lunch on the steps at Robson Square, in Vancouver, on Monday, March 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Youth vaping rates levelled off in 2020, while number of smokers declines

Stress reduction ranked highly among young Canadians’ reasons for vaping

Vaping rates among Canadian youth appear to have plateaued in 2020, a Statistics Canada study suggests, which one researcher calls a promising sign that the next generation could be kicking the nicotine habit.

According to a report released Wednesday, about one in seven young Canadians reported vaping on a regular basis last year, a level roughly on par with the data the agency collected in 2019.

Researchers found 14 per cent of teenagers aged 15 to 19 had vaped in the previous month, and the prevalence among young adults aged 20 to 24 was 13 per cent.

By contrast, the data shows only three per cent of adults aged 25 or older say they used e-cigarettes within the previous month.

University of Waterloo professor David Hammond said the numbers indicate that the surge in youth vaping in recent years could be tapering off because of stricter regulations, rising awareness of the health risks and lifestyle changes related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It looks like we may have reached the peak of youth vaping,” Hammond said. “I would expect that vaping will continue to decline among young people, and if that happens in parallel with the continued reduction in smoking, then that’s very good news for everybody.”

But one anti-smoking advocate is urging governments to redouble their efforts to tackle youth vaping, because while rates may have levelled off, they remain too high.

“It’s good that the rates aren’t going up. But at this point, we still have over 400,000 youth who are vaping across the country,” said Les Hagen, executive director of Action on Smoking and Health.

“What’s frustrating here is that this epidemic of youth vaping continues to rage, and that governments are not attacking the problem as quickly and strongly as they should be.”

The numbers in Statistics Canada’s 2020 Tobacco and Nicotine Survey are based on the responses of 8,112 Canadians collected between December 2020 and January 2021.

Last year’s smoking and vaping patterns can also in part be attributed to shifts brought on by the COVID-19 crisis, but the impacts aren’t clearcut, Hammond said.

About one in 10 Canadians reported being regular cigarette smokers in 2020, but prevalence declined overall compared to 2019, according to the study. Young adults aged 20 to 24 saw the biggest dip, with eight per cent saying they were smokers in 2020 compared 13 per cent the previous year.

For some, lockdown has allowed more opportunities to light up at home, he said. And while many people have used the pandemic as an opportunity to cultivate healthier habits, others are turning to familiar vices to cope, he added.

Stress reduction ranked highly among young Canadians’ reasons for vaping, with 24 per cent of participants aged 20 to 24 citing it as their primary motivation, a 10 per cent jump compared to 2019.

Hammond said the shuttering of schools in many parts of the country has cut many young people off from the influence of their peers, who often act as e-cigarette suppliers. Moreover, he said, it’s more difficult for kids to sneak a puff while stuck at home with their parents.

“For young people, there’s probably a greater likelihood that they would reduce both vaping and smoking. Because again, you’re not with your buddies,” said Hammond. “It’s just a lot less cool to be smoking on the back porch with your mom.”

Hammond said the spread of a respiratory illness may also be making people more conscious of the health risks linked to e-cigarettes, including vaping-related lung disease.

He said the Statistics Canada findings could also signal the success of government strategies to curb soaring youth vaping rates after Ottawa opened the door for international products to enter the Canadian market in 2018.

Since then, both federal and provincial authorities have introduced tougher restrictions to reverse the troubling trend.

In December, the federal government proposed to reduce the amount of nicotine allowed in vaping products as part of greater efforts to reduce their appeal to young Canadians.

Health Canada also enforced a ban on vaping advertisements in places young people can access also took effect last year.

In a statement Wednesday, the federal regulator said it is considering further measures to deter youth vaping, including restricting flavours.

Many provinces have implemented their own anti-vaping measures, including increasing taxes, restricting the sale of youth-friendly flavours and cutting nicotine content.

READ MORE: B.C. applies 7% sales tax on streaming, vaping, sweet drinks April 1

Adina Bresge, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

vaping

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Westbound Highway 1 traffic near Herrling Island is backed up a long way following a vehicle incident. (Photo/Trish Dunbar)
Pedestrian killed in crash near Agassiz

Woman in her 50s struck by moving van

Students in the March 2020 Environmental Mind Grind, which was held at Sevenoaks Shopping Centre before COVID-19 restrictions were put into place. This year’s event is being held virtually. (Submitted photo)
Environmental Mind Grind goes virtual for first time

Event open to Abbotsford and Mission students in Grades 6 to 12

The Abbotsford Centre has the ability to host AHL level games if the Vancouver Canucks or any other NHL team chose to move its affiliate to the arena. (File photo)
Abbotsford Centre ready for AHL if right opportunity presents itself

Building recently upgraded glass and boards, schedule would allow for AHL tenant

In 2012, police in Abbotsford placed surveillance cameras near the Dhaliwal home in the 2500 block of Bradner Road after there were two drive-by shootings in the area. Harb Dhaliwal, 31, has now been identified as the victim of a fatal shooting April 17 in Vancouver. (Abbotsford News file photo)
Abbotsford man named as victim of fatal weekend shooting in Vancouver

Harpreet Dhaliwal, 31, killed outside of Cardero’s restaurant in Coal Harbour

B.C. Agriculture in the Classroom is offering free school tours of The Pencil Patch learning garden in Abbotsford in April, May and June.
Agriculture in the Classroom offers free school tours at learning garden

The Pencil Patch in Abbotsford provides 15 outdoor learning stations

In this image from NASA, NASA’s experimental Mars helicopter Ingenuity lands on the surface of Mars Monday, April 19, 2021. The little 4-pound helicopter rose from the dusty red surface into the thin Martian air Monday, achieving the first powered, controlled flight on another planet. (NASA via AP)
VIDEO: NASA’s Mars helicopter takes flight, 1st for another planet

The $85 million helicopter demo was considered high risk, yet high reward

A man has died after being shot at Coquitlam’s Town Centre Park the evening of Monday, April 19. (Twitter/IHIT)
1 man dead after shooting at Coquitlam park: IHIT

The gunman is still at large, according to the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team

(Photo by Mojpe/Pixabay)
Canadian kids extracting record amounts from Tooth Fairy

Our neighbours in the U.S. receive slightly less from Tooth Fairy visits

Dr. Bonnie Henry gives her daily media briefing regarding Covid-19 for the province of British Columbia in Victoria, B.C, Monday, December 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Toddler marks youngest British Columbian to die related to COVID-19

Child one of eight people to die from virus this weekend

Families of two of three workers killed in a train derailment near Field, B.C., in 2019 have filed lawsuits accusing Canadian Pacific of gross negligence. The derailment sent 99 grain cars and two locomotives off the tracks. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Families of workers killed in Field train derailment allege negligence in lawsuit

Lawsuits allege the workers weren’t provided a safe work environment

(New Westminster Police)
4 youth arrested after 30-person brawl in New Westminster leaves 1 seriously injured

Police are looking for witnesses who saw the incident take place

South Surrey’s Paul Cottrell, who works with the DFO, tows a grey whale out of Semiahmoo Bay Sunday. (Contributed photo)
Dead whale floating near White Rock towed to shore for necropsy

Animal has been dead since at least April 15

Sunday’s storm rocked one of the ferries crossing Kootenay Lake. Photo: Dirk Jonker
VIDEO: Storm makes for wild ferry ride across Kootenay Lake

The video was captured by ferry employee Dirk Jonker

Most Read