Country's top doctors sign letter to warn about dangers of vaping
FREDERICTON -- Vaping is thought to be a factor in two cases of severe pulmonary illness now being investigated in New Brunswick.
That news came on the same day that the country's chief medical health officers signed a joint letter expressing their concerns about vaping.
When physicians started putting the puzzle pieces together after two New Brunswickers fell ill with a "severe" pulmonary illness, the suspected culprit was vaping.
"We have informed physicians to be on the lookout for vaping related illnesses," said Dr. Jennifer Russell, New Brunswick's chief medical officer of health.
Russell says the two people "are doing fine," but she says she's become more and more concerned about the risks of vaping.
On Friday, she and 15 other chief medical officers across the country signed a joint statement, saying they can't "stand by and watch" a new generation become dependent on vaping.
"Several were actually caught vaping this past school year in the building," said Brad Sturgeon," the principal of Leo Hayes High School.
School officials say they're trying to educate students on risks, and while Russell wouldn't confirm the ages of the two cases,
she says they are seeing an increase of vaping among young people.
"This is not a good sign obviously," Russell said. "We were seeing a decline in smoking rates and we know that the short term and long term effects of vaping at this point in time are not known."
Four years ago, all three maritime provinces banned the sale of e-cigarettes and vaping equipment to minors.
"It's what introduces them to smoking and this is what we really need to nip in the bud," said former New Brunswick health minister Victor Boudreau.
But the Canadian Cancer Society goes further, saying it wants a complete regulatory overhaul of vaping laws.
It's concerned about the easy availability of vaping products.
According to Health Canada, a quarter of students from Grades 7 to 12 have tried an e-cigarette.
"If you don't smoke already, please don't start vaping," Russell said. "If you are pregnant, don't vape. If you are under the age of 19, don't vape."
Until there's more information, that's the advice from doctors.
Vape shop owners contacted by CTV News on Friday refused on-camera interviews, but did say they think the research is incomplete and that other studies have concluded vaping is safer than smoking.