Concern grows in New Brunswick over danger of vaping products
SAINT JOHN -- Thirteen deaths and over 800 reported cases of illness have been attributed to vaping in the U.S., prompting about a dozen states and cities to either ban or severely limit the sale of e-cigarette products.
On Sunday, a New Brunswick woman shared her terrifying health ordeal which she attributes to vaping.
Now, there's a call for tighter regulations here too.
In recent weeks, there have been hundreds of cases of lung illness reported in the United States, and some here in Canada and here in the Maritimes as well.
This has alarmed health authorities, and a fresh wave a health warnings is being issued related to vaping.
Over the summer, health authorities in the United States began noticing reports of people developing severe lung ailments with the only common factor being that the patients had all recently been vaping.
From a handful of patients, the number of cases has exploded into the hundreds including more than a dozen deaths.
Health authorities say this relatively new issue is raising serious questions and, right now, there are not a lot of answers.
"Everybody needs to know that the long term risks of vaping are unknown at this point in time," said Dr. Jennifer Russell, New Brunswick's chief medical health officer. "What we have seen in the United States of vaping related illnesses and deaths is very concerning."
Concerning enough that federal authorities in Canada issued a warning over the weekend:
"Health Canada is advising Canadians who use vaping products to monitor themselves for symptoms of pulmonary illness (e.g., cough, shortness of breath, chest pain) and to seek medical attention promptly if they have concerns about their health."
18 year old Caroline Asimakos of Saint John had to seek medical attention when she began experiencing severe lung and breathing ailments she believes were caused by vaping.
"I was up all night coughing, like spitting up gross stuff," she said. "It was not normal. I was not okay."
"I couldn't breathe at all," said Asimakos. "I was coughing. I just couldn't do anything. I was just looking at my friends and tears running down my cheeks. It was terrifying."
Accounts like that from vape users, are becoming all too familiar for the Canadian cancer society.
The society is calling for a complete regulatory overhaul of vaping laws. It is especially concerned about the easy availability of vaping products – a concern shared by health authorities.
"You will hear, you know, that the stuff is easy to get, and we are aware of that," said Kelly Cull of the Canadian Cancer Society. "And so, if you're an adult or someone in a position who could acquire it for somebody else, you really shouldn't do that. Again, we really want to keep this out of the hands of youth, and it's concerning so we all have a part to play."
The Canadian Cancer Society is at the forefront of new education initiatives, trying to discourage people from vaping, especially young people.
The society is also calling for raising the minimum legal age to be able to purchase vaping products to 21, because it says the products are too easily available for young people.