Doc Talk #131 – Vaping / e-cigarettes



We discussed the rapidly growing topic of vaping / electronic cigarettes in this show.

Among children and adolescents in particular there has been a massive uptake of vaping and use of electronic cigarettes.

The technology was developed in China 2003 and emerged in Europe and the US from 2006. In 2018, 3.6 million people in the US were estimated to have used electronic cigarettes. It is a huge industry with enormous profits to be made.

  • Compared to regular cigarettes, they are probably slightly less unsafe (although some versions have been shown to contain toxic chemicals including heavy metals) as they don’t contain tar and some of the oxidants. We don’t really know about the longer term risks of use of these products as they haven’t been around for long enough.
  • The nicotine content makes these products inherently addictive (there is also some evidence of a ‘gateway’ effect among younger users in particular)
  • There is a risk of taking us back to the days of normalizing smoking behaviour – much of the decline in smoking over the last few decades has been been because of changes around social perceptions of smoking
  • On a whole population basis, there isn’t any good evidence that e-cigarettes reduce quit rates, or reduce use of regular cigarettes.

In Vegreville/Minburn County, we have seen a decline in smoking rates to 17.5% according to the most recent Alberta Community Health Dashboard, slightly lower than the provincial average of 17.9%. This is a testament to the ongoing efforts to promote healthier lifestyles in rural communities, including supports such as AlbertaQuits.

Interested in quitting for the New Year? We talked about some evidence-based strategies for smoking cessation. Combining behavioural support (such as AlbertaQuits) and pharmacotherapy (including either champix/zyban, or alternatively two forms of nicotine replacement therapy) can increase your chances of quitting successfully dramatically!

For smoking cessation, the drugs do work! Combining behavioural support and pharmacotherapy is usually the best approach


Worried about getting around safely in the icy weather? Check out the AHS Penguin Walk page!


Title image by Lindsay Fox from Newport beach, United States [CC BY 2.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons

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