Campaign aims to curb youth vaping

Montreal professional athletes are lending their voices in an effort to raise awareness about his unhealthy habit

Campaign aims to curb youth vaping

Photo Credit: Canva

The use of e-cigarettes among young people has become a growing concern across Canada and in Quebec. The (Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec (RSEQ) and the Quebec Council on Tobacco and Health (CQTS) have partnered with several world-class athletes to fight against e-cigarettes — commonly known as vaping — which has become a major health issue among young people.

The second Drop the illusion campaign features young sports figures promoting the slogan Vaping messes your game! The goal is to raise awareness about the health risks caused by vaping.

Sports stars share important message

Professional athletes like Montreal-born tennis player Félix Auger-Aliassime, Montreal Canadiens hockey player Nick Suzuki, snowboarder Maxence Parrot, boxer Kim Clavel, and rugby player Karen Paquin have joined the campaign in hopes of spreading the key message that vaping has a hugely detrimental effect on youth’s health.

“More and more young athletes are vaping and I think it’s important to talk about it,” says Kim Clavel, holder of the WBC Silver light flyweight title and the WBC-NABF light flyweight title since 2019. “For example, when you vape, you are much more likely to develop asthma. I’m sure that young people are not aware of this.”

A tobacco-free Quebec

Both the RSEQ and CQTS are key players in the fight against smoking and vaping in schools across the province. As well as providing interactive educational material to communities, the CQTS supports a growing number of schools in formulating individualized plans for a smoke-free generation, a strategy aimed at reducing the rate of smoking and vaping among young people.

“There is an urgent need to inform and raise awareness among youth of the risks of vaping,” says Annie Papageorgiou, General Manager, CQTS. “Some find it difficult to concentrate in class or have trouble finishing their classes without going out to vape. Others consume large quantities of nicotine to the point of experiencing intense physical symptoms such as weakness, nausea, or vomiting. Many also mention that they are more easily out of breath, which undoubtedly affects their ability to practice sports. This addiction is therefore likely to have a significant impact on their academic success as well as on their physical and mental health.”

For decades, the RSEQ has been recognized as a leader in the development of sports, physical activity, healthy lifestyles, and the fight against smoking among students. Its commitment to student retention and academic success contributes to the overall development of student-athletes.

Numbers are rising

In November 2015, Quebec adopted its Tobacco Control Act (Bill 44), which subjects electronic cigarettes with or without nicotine to the same regulations as tobacco products. Among rules pertaining to advertising and displays, the act prohibits the sale of electronic cigarettes and restricts access to specialty vape shops to those 18 and under.

Additionally, in May 2018, the Government of Canada established a regulatory framework for vaping products. The Tobacco and Vaping Products Act set out rules for product and package labelling, and restricts the promotion of vaping products, including bans on lifestyle advertising or promotions that appeal to youth.

Despite the restrictions, the Canadian Tobacco and Nicotine Survey (CTNS) 2020 reported a vaping prevalence of 14 per cent among youth aged 15-19, unchanged from the year before. Among this age group, the most commonly reported reasons for vaping were because they enjoyed it (27 per cent), because they wanted to try (26 per cent), and to reduce stress (23 per cent).

Quebec statistics are even more alarming. A study of vaping and cigarette usage among secondary students showed that e-cigarette use had quintupled between 2013 and 2019, with the proportion of young people who vape in high school increasing from four per cent in 2013 to 21 per cent in 2019. The proportion rises to 35 per cent for Secondary 5 students.

“Young people tend to trivialize vaping, believing it to be harmless,” says Stéphane Boudreau, Assistant General Manager, RSEQ. “It’s even more alarming to think that they vape before a game or even after training. In addition, by vaping, they are four times more likely to smoke cigarettes … it’s really sad.”

The Drop the illusion website shares statistics on the serious health effects of nicotine and vaping, the realities of addiction, and offers support and resources on quitting strategies, and withdrawal symptoms.

Visit droptheillusion.com to see the campaign and learn more about youth and vaping.