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Vaping Is Increasing And So Are The Health Issues

In 2018, the use of vapes and e-cigarettes increased exponentially when Bill S-5 was passed in May, allowing the use of nicotine in these products. Popular since 2004 when they first emerged on the market, e-cigarettes and vapes allow for an alternative method to conventional cigarettes and were applauded for assisting individuals in quitting smoking altogether. With the legalization of cannabis, however, vapes and e-cigarettes are now containing THC, making this alternative to traditional smoking a catalyst for addiction. With flavours and decorative designs, vapes and e-cigarettes have established a culture all its own, but testing is showing that they can be just as harmful. 

Vitamin E Acetate 

The Canadian government is keeping a close eye on health cases being reported in the United States of individuals developing pneumonia-like illnesses after using vaping products. Approximately two thousand people are ill and thirty-nine people have passed away, causing concerns to be raised about the product and is surmounting impact on the lungs. Studies suggest that vitamin E acetate could be to blame for the cause of these illnesses. 

Vitamin E acetate is commonly found in food and cosmetic products, but it has made its way into vaping liquids as well. Vitamin E acetate was found by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in fluid drawn from the lungs of twenty-nine individuals across the United States. Compared to honey, this liquid is sticky and remains in the lungs, impacting their ability to inflate properly. It is typically found in products on the black market that contain THC, as it is being used to stretch the amount of THC in the cartridge itself. Colourless and odourless; it has proven to be a cheaper alternative to THC oil, yet it is also proving to be a harmful one. 

The cause for concern has increased, however, with reports stating that the first double-lung transplant has been performed in Michigan. It is believed that the individual suffered lung failure, due to the effects of vaping. 

"What I saw in his lungs was nothing that I've ever seen before, and I've been doing lung transplants for 20 years." -Hassan Nemeh, Surgical Director of Thoracic Organ Transplant, Henry Ford Hospital "There was an enormous amount of inflammation and scarring in addition to multiple spots of dead tissue. And the lung itself was so firm and scarred, literally we had to deliver it out of the chest," he said. "This is an evil that I haven't faced before."

While additional testing is needed to confirm that vitamin E acetate is concretely to blame for the breakout of vaping-related illnesses, people are being advised to only purchase their products from companies that highly regulate the quality of their products. 

Vaping in the Workplace 

Across Canada, legislation surrounding vaping and e-cigarettes in the workplace differs as the provinces and territories have established their own regulations. Many of the regulations in place are following those of cigarettes, as e-cigarettes and vapes are prohibited from being used in public areas and within buildings. The youngest age for legal possession of e-cigarettes and vapes is 18, and many provinces require identification to be presented upon purchase of the product. 

While some employers are allowing employees to vape outside as they are treating it as an activity comparable to smoking, regulations must be put in place due to the drugs that can be included in vapes and e-cigarettes. Nicotine is a popular additive as individuals are transitioning from cigarettes to their electronic counterparts, but THC has also made an appearance in illegal products. 

THC, otherwise known as Tetrahydrocannabinol, is the psychoactive compound in cannabis that causes individuals to feel intoxicated. Although THC vapes have been legalized as of October of this year, they will not be available for purchase until mid-December. Health specialists have raised concerns about the new law, as the widespread outbreak of vaping related illnesses in the United States proves that little is still known about the side effects of the liquids used in these products. 

At the same time, however, the legalization of cannabis oils for the use of vaping is being encouraged as it will allow for greater regulation to exist in the industry. Currently, individuals are acquiring these products from unregulated sources and are unaware of the additional chemicals and additives that are being placed within the product. Legalization will allow consumers to purchase from reputable sources, and will hopefully diminish the amount of substance abuse currently being seen on the market. 

December marks the beginning of the legalization of vaping products containing THC, and employers must be aware of how their employees are using these products. If you are in need of refining your drug testing policy, give us a call. We will work with you to implement the correct testing procedures, to ensure all employees are fit to work.