London, ON –This afternoon, officials from the Middlesex-London Health Unit announcedthat they had been advised of a case of severe pulmonary illness diagnosed in an area youth, linked to their use of vaping products.
“While we aren’t able to say conclusively that the respiratory illness that occurred in this young person was the result of vaping, there is no other identifiable cause in this case,” says Dr. Chris Mackie, Medical Officer of Health and CEO at the Middlesex-London Health Unit. “We know very little about the long-term health effects associated with e-cigarettes, but our findings so far are enough to convince us of the need to advise the public.”
The announcement comes on the same day Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott issued an order under the Health Protection and Promotion Act, requiring public hospitals in the province to provide statistical, non-identifying information about vaping-related severe pulmonary disease to Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health. The Minister stated that the information, which was previously unavailable to the Ministry of Health, will be critical to identifying evidence-based solutions that protect youth from the potential dangers of vaping.
A recent Health Canada Information Update also calls on physicians across the country to ask patients about their use of electronic cigarettes and vaping products when they present with respiratory symptoms, especially when there isn’t an apparent reason for the illness.
“The use of these products is escalating at a rate we’ve never seen. Our Enforcement Officers have seen an exponential increase in the number of people who vape, particularly high school-aged youth, which is a major concern for us,” says Linda Stobo, the Health Unit’s Manager of Chronic Disease and Tobacco Control. “We’re not only worried about the way these products are being marketed aggressively to youth, but also about the high concentrations of nicotine found in some of these products, making them very addictive.”
The Enforcement Officers’ observations are consistent with a study of Canadian youth aged 16 to 19, led by University of Waterloo Professor David Hammond, which found that vaping among this group increased by 74% between 2017 and 2018.
The safety of vaping products has also been the topic of many recent media reports due to the number of illnesses and deaths attributed to the products in the United States. According to the latest data from the U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, there have been 380 confirmed and probable cases of lung-related illnesses, and six confirmed deaths linked to vaping in the United States.
Dan Flaherty, Communications Manager, Middlesex-London Health Unit,
519-663-5317 ext. 2469 or 519-617-0570 (cell.)
Dr. Chris Mackie, Medical Officer of Health and CEO, Middlesex-London Health Unit
Linda Stobo, Manager, Chronic Disease and Tobacco Control