The NRBHSS is warning the public – especially people who use vaping products – about the risks of severe lung illness and even death that are linked to vaping.
Summary of recent events:
In the United States and Canada, authorities are currently investigating cases of severe lung disease and deaths in patients reporting using vaping products. Most of them had vaped products containing cannabinoids like THC and CBD (compounds found in cannabis). Some had vaped both cannabinoids and nicotine, or nicotine only.
During the last few months, more then 2000 cases of vaping-associated lung illness have been reported in the United States, and almost 50 deaths have been confirmed. In Quebec, three cases of vaping-associated lung illness have been confirmed.
To this day, the cause for these illnesses has not been identified.
What is vaping?
Vaping consists in the act of inhaling and exhaling an aerosol (vapour) produced by a vaping product.
This vapour can contain substances such as nicotine, flavourings and cannabis (THC or CBD).
Unlike cigarette smoking, vaping doesn’t require burning. The device heats a liquid into a vapour, which then turns into an aerosol.
When it comes to cannabis, the term vaping also includes other forms of consumption like liquid vaporization and dabbing, which consists in bringing cannabis extracts (solid or liquid) highly concentrated in THC to a high temperature.
Vaping products are known by the following names: e-cigarettes or electronic cigarettes, oil pens, vape pens, THC e-juice, carts, wax pens, mods, pods, sub-ohms, dab rigs, dab pens, electronic nicotine delivery system, e-hookah, etc.
What is being done in Canada and in the region about the situation?
Health Canada and the Quebec Health Ministry have issued advisories regarding the link between the acute lung disease cases observed and the use of vaping products. The NRBHSS is following the situation closely and has put in place mechanisms to detect cases if a similar situation happens in Nunavik.
Health risks and recommendations linked to vaping:
Vaping is not without risk. The long-term health impacts of vaping are still unknown.
For now, everyone should abstain from vaping cannabis (or cannabinoids like THC and CBD), regardless of whether vaping products come from a legal or an illegal source.
As for other vaping products that do not contain cannabis (with or without nicotine): youth, pregnant women and non-smokers should abstain from using them.
If you choose to vape, be careful:
- Look out for symptoms like cough, shortness of breath or chest pain. Seek medical care quickly if one of these symptoms appears and be sure to indicate to your treating team what you were vaping.
- Mention to your healthcare professional if you vape or have vaped, as well as the products used.
- Do not modify vaping products or add any substances that are not intended by the manufacturer.
- Safety alert – Health Canada – 4 September 2019: https://healthycanadians.gc.ca/recall-alert-rappel-avis/hc-sc/2019/70919a-eng.php
- Press release – Ministère de la Santé et des Services Sociaux – 27 September 2019 : https://www.msss.gouv.qc.ca/ministere/salle-de-presse/communique-1927/
- Advisory on vaping of cannabis products – Ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux – 20 November 2019 : https://www.msss.gouv.qc.ca/professionnels/tabagisme-et-vapotage/vapotage/mise-en-garde-contre-le-vapotage-de-cannabis/
- Advisory on vaping of products with or without nicotine – Ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux – 25 november 2019 : https://www.msss.gouv.qc.ca/professionnels/tabagisme-et-vapotage/vapotage/mise-en-garde-contre-les-produits-de-vapotage-avec-ou-sans-nicotine/