Study finds nicotine in Canadian E-Cigarettes

September 12, 2013 - 2:38pm
Canadian Cancer Society upset about nicotine found in Canadian e-cigarettes.
Canadian Cancer Society upset about nicotine found in Canadian e-cigarettes.

Electronic cigarettes are gaining popularity among youth in Canada, but a new study shows many contain nicotine.

"We don't want youth getting addicted, so we would certainly support a ban on electronic cigarettes sold to minors," said Donna Pasiechnik, Manager of Tobacco Control for the Canadian Cancer Society (CCS).

The Quebec division of the society commissioned the University of Montreal to test several e-cigarette products and found that five brands labeled as nicotine free, actually contained the substance.

In addition to the testing, a survey found that nearly a quarter of 18-24 year olds in that province have used electronic cigarettes during the course of the past year, while in the general population, it is only nine per cent.

When asked about the motive behind using the vaporizer, 60 per cent of youths said it was for fun or out of curiosity.

"These figures explode the myth that electronic cigarettes are made for smoking cessation. At the CCS, we are extremely concerned about a gadget that seems so attractive to youths, whether smokers or not. It is critical to better regulate this product," said Mélanie Champagne, Director, Public Issues, CCS - Quebec Division.

In Saskatchewan, there is no data yet on how many people are using e-cigarettes, but Pasiechnik said the province has the highest youth smoking rate in the country for the past nine years.

Pasiechnik said that there have been countless efforts to put roadblocks between young people and smoking. Saskatchewan was the first province to ban tobacco displays in retail establishments.

"We sort of make progress and then the tobacco companies come up with something else," said Pasiechnik.

She said that flavoured tobacco is the worst problem they see in the province right now, because it’s wildly popular among teens and comes in bright packaging that looks like candy.

"Youth are using these products and that is a concern because they think these are harmless products because they come in flavours like bubble gum and chocolate ... and then become addicted.”

Not enough is known about the addictive qualities of e-cigarettes, but Pasiechnik argues that that should mean they are not allowed to be sold to minors.

"The biggest challenge in tobacco control is to prevent people from starting.”

Follow on Twitter: @ashwillsee