Young Canadians have been vaping less frequently since the COVID-19 pandemic began, a new survey has found, but the lead researcher cautions the habit is still an epidemic among youth.

The survey, conducted by the Lung Association of Nova Scotia and Smoke-Free Nova Scotia, found that respondents decreased vaping to five days per week from six, on average. They also cut back to an average of 19 vaping episodes per day, down from 30.

But the study’s lead researcher, Dr. Mohammed Al-Hamdani, played down the decrease in vaping frequency, saying it was “not that high.”

Al-Hamdani noted that although there were several factors involved — including vape shops closing during lockdowns and people not interacting with friends because of physical distancing — “the vaping frequency did not really go down as much as we would think.”

“This shows how much the youth and young adults are addicted to vaping and how they’re willing to just try to get their hands on the product under the circumstances,” he said.

Al-Hamdani, the director of health initiatives at the Lung Association of Nova Scotia, said the study was aimed at identifying the policies needed to reduce vaping among youth and young adults.

“To do that we need flavour bans, nicotine caps, taxation and increase the minimum age to 21,” he said, noting the study found the average respondent began vaping at age 15.

The decrease in vaping frequency was most notable in British Columbia and Ontario, the survey found, and could be related to warnings of potential complications from COVID-19 for e-cigarette users.

Brendon Edward Coddington, 22, acknowledged he had cut back on vaping during the pandemic — but said the warnings about complications were not the reason.

“Vape stores have closed temporarily, reducing the ability to purchase coils, juice and even new devices if necessary,” the Toronto resident said in a Facebook post.

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This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

Read full article here.

Denise Paglinawan – The Canadian Press – September 18, 2020.

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