After hundreds of cases and seven reported deaths from respiratory illness due to vaping in the U.S., a suspected vaping death hit Southwestern Ontario.
Just two weeks after Health Canada issued a warning that vaping products can carry a risk of pulmonary illness, a high schooler from London, Ontario was taken to the intensive care unit at the Middlesex-London Health Unit.
In a press conference, MLHU medical officer and CEO Dr. Christopher Mackie commented on the case.
“While we weren’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… 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,” he said.
Dr. Mackie revealed very little information about the case at the press conference, withholding the patient’s name, age, gender, brand of vape, and whether it was nicotine or cannabis.
“This individual was using an e-cigarette at least daily,” said Dr. Mackie, adding that “There are some people who claim that vaping is not a risk in Canada.
That is not the case. It’s important that people understand vaping does create health risks.”
Shortly after, Ontario’s Health Minister Christine Elliott issued a statement in which she expressed she has “become increasingly concerned about the prevalence and possible health consequences of vaping, particularly as they affect our youth.”
Elliott has also issued a minister’s order that “requires public hospitals in Ontario to provide the Chief Medical Officer of Health with statistical, non-identifying information related to incidences of vaping-related severe pulmonary disease.”
It is no surprise that the province has decided to take immediate action.
Earlier this year, UW’s very own Dr. David Hammond released a study which suggested that since Ottawa legalized vaping in 2018, there has been a 74% increase in Canadian teen vapers.
“What the government and public-health authorities need to do is find balance to allow adult smokers to have access to these products, without creating a new generation of nicotine users… We haven’t got that balance right yet,” Hammond said.