More and more youth are vaping and it’s important to know more about why people vape, the risks, and how you can self-assess your own habits.

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What is vaping?

Vaping is the use of a vaporizer to heat a liquid, wax or herb into an aerosol (a gas) that you breathe in and out. An e-cigarette is one kind of vaporizer. Vaporizers come in many forms and may look like pens, USB sticks and other handheld items. They use a battery to heat a coil inside the vape, which turns a flavoured liquid into vapor, rather than burning a substance like tobacco.

An infographic on the mechanics of vaping.

Why do people vape?

There are many different reasons for vaping. Some people might start vaping to help them quit smoking or because they find it relaxing or enjoyable. Others may like to vape with friends at parties or to imitate someone who is famous and influential. People may have started vaping because they believe it is safe and does not have any risks. External factors also influence a person’s choice to vape. These can include social determinants of health and advertising from the vaping industry.

Risks of vaping

Many people think vaping is safe because it is “not as bad as smoking”. Vaping is considered to be not as harmful as smoking, but that does not mean vaping is safe. Non-smokers, people who are pregnant, and young people should not vape.

Vaping exposes your body to many chemicals that can have negative effects. Vaporizers that heat liquids up to higher temperatures produce more harmful chemicals. It can also be harmful to expose the people around you to the aerosol, like second hand smoking. Vaping is relatively new, and researchers are still studying the long-term risks of these chemicals on lung and heart health.

A major risk of vaping is the possible exposure to nicotine. Nicotine is a highly addictive substance that is also in cigarettes, cigars and chew. If you are exposed to nicotine, you may become addicted and dependent. Nicotine can also affect memory, concentration and the developing brains of young people. It’s important to be aware that even if the label on a vaping liquid says it is “nicotine free” it still may contain nicotine. According to Health Canada, over half of vaping liquids may contain nicotine.

Vaping products have recently been linked to severe lung illnesses. BC is monitoring the situation and working to identify possible cases.

What Next?

Want to explore and learn more? Here are a couple options that will help you.