Factsheet published by the Institut national de santé publique du Québec Electronic cigarettes are easily available and popular among youths, both smokers and non-smokers

28 November 2014

Montreal -

The Canadian Cancer Society (CCS) – Quebec Division is very concerned by the data published yesterday by the Institut national de santé publique du Québec (INSPQ). Not only more than a third of students in Secondary 2 have smoked electronic cigarettes (e-cigs), but nearly half of all secondary school students who have used it (46 %) don’t exclude trying out conventional cigarettes (with tobacco). Moreover, nearly 1 in 10 youths have already smoked e-cigarettes in the final year of primary school.

While many experts consider e-cigarettes a less harmful alternative to conventional cigarettes, others believe that it “renormalizes” the use of tobacco and acts as an entry point into conventional cigarettes for teenagers. “The interest in tobacco that these adolescents show must not be taken lightly. The electronic cigarette industry has really succeeded in positioning its product as something attractive for children. That’s far from being a quit-smoking aid. It’s reprehensible! Vaping is not a game for schoolyards,” says Mélanie Champagne, Director, Public Issues, CCS – Quebec Division.

In 2012-2013, a third of secondary school students reported already having used e-cigarettes. According to the INSPQ, these results are higher than the ones obtained in the United States and suggest that young Quebecers have very easy access to this product. “It’s upsetting, but not surprising. Why would these youths hold back from buying a flavoured product in vogue that is affordable and within reach? All eyes are on the government now because it has the power to protect minors by banning the sale of electronic cigarettes to them. This measure must be included in the amendment to the Tobacco Act promised by Minister Lucie Charlebois,” says Mélanie Champagne.

Another cause for worry is flavouring. “Flavours are everywhere: regular cigarettes, cigarillos, electronic cigarettes. In January 2014, we counted more than 7,000 available flavours just for electronic cigarettes. Clearly, the industry is exploiting young people’s attraction to flavours and using this strategy to develop a new client base,” says Geneviève Berteau, Policy Analyst, CCS – Quebec Division.

According to the INSPQ, “despite experts differences of opinions regarding the public health risks and benefits of electronic cigarettes, a consensus has emerged on the need to regulate advertising and promotion and ban access to minors.” The CCS is of the same opinion and believes that these measures will not in any way restrict adults who want to use electronic cigarettes, which are less harmful than regular tobacco.

At the National Assembly last week, the CCS, along with the Coalition québécoise pour le contrôle du tabac, launched the 10 in 10 campaign whose aim is to bring down the smoking rate to 10% in 10 years. Smoking is responsible for one in three cancer deaths, so for the CCS, tackling it is one of the key ways to save more lives.

Electronic cigarettes in schools
  • 5,000 students in the final year of primary school have already tried electronic cigarettes
  • 31% of secondary school students – around 84,400 students – who have never used electronic cigarettes do not rule out the possibility of doing so in the future
  • More than one in three secondary school students – around 143,300 students – have already used electronic cigarettes
  • Electronic cigarettes are especially attractive to boys: 41% of boys have used it compared with 28% of girls
  • Some 48,000 secondary school students who have never smoked have already tried electronic cigarettes (18%)

The Canadian Cancer Society works to save more lives. With the support of thousands of Quebecers, donors and volunteers, we fight to prevent more cancers, enable our researchers to make more discoveries, and help more people touched by the disease. Let’s save more lives. Visit cancer.ca or call us at 1 888 939-3333.

Geneviève Berteau
Policy Analyst
Canadian Cancer Society – Quebec Division
Phone: 514 255-5151

For more information, please contact:

Mélanie Champagne

Manager, Public Issues

Canadian Cancer Society

Phone: (514) 651-1470