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

Elvira D’Angelo, 92, waits to receive her COVID-19 vaccination shot at a clinic in Montreal, Sunday, March 7, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
110 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

Provincial health officers announced 1,005 new cases throughout B.C.

It costs as little as $7 to charge an EV at home. (Scott Tibballs / The Free Press)
Electric Vehicles a rare sight (in the Kootenays), but change on the way

Electric pickups will increase the appeal of zero-emission vehicles in years to come according to Blair Qualey of the New Car Dealers Association

Linda Krawczyk and her dad Doug Finney enjoyed a ride around beautiful Fernie on Friday thanks to Melanie Wrigglesworth and the local chapter of Cycling Without Age. (Scott Tibballs / The Free Press)
Cycling Without Age goes for its first spin

Doug Finney (86) got to enjoy a ride around Fernie

The Cranbrook Community Forest is good to go for mountain biking. (Scott Tibballs / The Free Press)
Snow’s done, time to hit the trails

South Country trails are good to go

Interior Health nurses administer Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines to seniors and care aids in Kelowna on Tuesday, March 16. (Phil McLachlan/Kelowna Capital News)
69 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

The total number of cases in the region is now at 9,840 since the pandemic began

Vancouver resident Beryl Pye was witness to a “concerning,” spontaneous dance party that spread throughout social groups at Kitsilano Beach on April 16. (Screen grab/Beryl Pye)
VIDEO: Dance party erupts at Vancouver’s Kitsilano Beach to the dismay of onlookers

‘It was a complete disregard for current COVID-19 public health orders,’ says Vancouver resident Beryl Pye

A syringe is loaded with COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to open up COVID vaccine registration to all B.C. residents 18+ in April

Registration does not equate to being able to book an appointment

(Black Press file photo).
Multiple stabbings at Vancouver Island bush party

Three youths hospitalized after an assault in Comox

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Selina Robinson is shown in Coquitlam, B.C., on Friday November 17, 2017. British Columbia’s finance minister says her professional training as a family therapist helped her develop the New Democrat government’s first budget during the COVID-19 pandemic, which she will table Tuesday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. finance minister to table historic pandemic-challenged deficit budget

Budget aims to take care of people during pandemic while preparing for post-COVID-19 recovery, Robinson said

Each spring, the Okanagan Fest-of-Ale is held in Penticton. This year, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the festival will not be held. However, beer is still available. How much do you know about this beverage? (pxfuel.com)
QUIZ: How much do you really know about beer?

Put your knowledge to the test with this short quiz

Lord Tweedsmuir’s Tremmel States-Jones jumps a player and the goal line to score a touchdown against the Kelowna Owls in 2019. The face of high school football, along with a majority of other high school sports, could significantly change if a new governance proposal is passed at the B.C. School Sports AGM May 1. (Malin Jordan)
Power struggle: New governance model proposed for B.C. high school sports

Most commissions are against the new model, but B.C. School Sports (BCSS) and its board is in favour

Pall Bearers carrying the coffin of the Duke of Edinburgh, followed by the Prince of Wales, left and Princess Anne, right, into St George’s Chapel for his funeral, at Windsor Castle, in Windsor, England, Saturday April 17, 2021. (Danny Lawson/Pool via AP)
Trudeau announces $200K donation to Duke of Edinburgh award as Prince Philip laid to rest

A tribute to the late prince’s ‘remarkable life and his selfless service,’ the Prime Minister said Saturday

B.C. homeowners are being urged to take steps to prepare for the possibility of a flood by moving equipment and other assets to higher ground. (J.R. Rardon)
‘Entire province faces risk’: B.C. citizens urged to prepare for above-average spring flooding

Larger-than-normal melting snowpack poses a threat to the province as warmer weather touches down

Most Read