Big Tobacco, Underage Vaping and Shady Suppliers

Despite regulations, youth are getting their vape products from illegal suppliers

By controlling the vaping business, Big Tobacco effectively controls its own competition

Cherry, Mango, Banana Ice, Strawberries and Cream, Mojito Blast, Purple Haze.

These vape flavours were banned from non-age-restricted sellers in British Columbia in 2020.

What is vaping, some may ask?

Vaping or e-cigarettes are Big Tobacco’s way to get around anti-smoking rules. The same nasty companies control the new multi-billion dollar industry.

Instead of lighting a cigarette, you use a small electronic device that heats a liquid into a vapour which you then inhale. Big Tobacco has become Big Vape.

It’s the new cool thing, especially for your people.

But despite new regulations, youth from 12-24 are still the most likely to vape in BC, and the numbers of users only seem to be rising.

How are youth getting their hands on them, then?

It turns out that shady online suppliers are reaching out to underage customers on social media platforms like Instagram, Snapchat, and Tik Tok.

Saanich Police recently seized over $100,000 in illegal vaping products sold to local youth (often at school) after a nearly five-month-long investigation.

Global News conducted in-depth interviews with several BC students about why they started vaping, and the overwhelming consensus was that it simply looks “cool.”

Aidan, 16, said, “Everyone is doing it.” He started vaping in Grade 8.

“You’re trying to get popular, the older kids are vaping, and you say, ‘maybe I’ll try,'” he said. “I didn’t really know the thing I was hitting had nicotine in it. I think after a month, I started craving it.

If the nicotine wasn’t enough, vape flavours have harmful chemicals that can damage the lungs.

Diacetyl is a flavouring chemical that gives a butter-like flavour to food and vaping products.

Exposure to this chemical has been known to cause ‘popcorn lung,’ a chronic disease that damages the small airways in the lung.

Medical Health Officer Dr. Charmaine Enns says that educating youth about what they’re using is essential.

“It’s not helpful just to tell a kid, ‘You can’t do that.’ It’s about supporting their decision-making, and it’s informed decision-making about what are they choosing to put into their bodies.”

While the investigation is ongoing, maybe it’s time we think about how we can inform our youth about how vaping isn’t really as cool as it looks.