This is the second article in a series of articles looking at the results from the Cancer Risk Assessment in Youth Survey (CRAYS) done by the University of Waterloo at George Elliot Secondary (GES) in Lake Country (full report available here). This month we are looking at their findings with respect to E-cigarettes and flavoured tobacco use among the youth in Lake Country.
In general, the jury is still out on e-cigarettes (also known as vaporizers, vapes, vape pens, hookah pens, etc.) While some argue it is a way to reduce harm, e-cigarettes may actually promote trying nicotine products in students or promote continuation of an addiction in adults. At George Elliot, 35% of students report having tried e-cigarettes (see chart below).
The growing popularity of these products is concerning because students commonly misconceive alternate forms of tobacco as not being as bad for them as cigarettes. Research shows that these alternative forms of tobacco may be worse than cigarettes in some cases.
The CRAYS report also found that of the students attending George Elliot Secondary, 52% of them had used a flavoured tobacco product in the last month (see chart below). This is significantly higher than the provincial average of 44% and slightly higher than the national average of 49%.
It is clear that flavoured tobacco products are becoming more popular among young people. As the CRAYS report explains, “Flavoured tobacco has greater appeal among students: they perceive them as less risky, and perceive the smoke as causing less irritation.” There is national concern that the availability of these flavoured tobacco products may stalling progress in decreasing tobacco initiation and use among Canadian youth.
The CRAYS survey further found that at George Elliot of the 26% of the students who have tried smoking a cigarette, 52% of those who have tried tobacco also tried a flavoured tobacco produce and 35% have tried smoking marijuana.
It is important that we make sure students in Lake Country are aware that all tobacco products (e.g., cigarillos, cigars, smokeless tobacco flavoured tobacco, etc.) have the same level of health risk. Youth also need to know that E-cigarettes also have risk and we do not yet know the full extent of these.