Canada’s dental hygienists call on all levels of government to take steps to minimize the potential negative public health consequences of electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes), particularly for youth. In its recently released Position Statement on E-Cigarettes, the Canadian Dental Hygienists Association (CDHA) asserts that a ban on e-cigarettes sales to minors, a ban on flavourings in cartridges and e-liquids), and a ban on e-cigarette use in public places and workplaces will help to improve the oral and overall health of all Canadians.
Since the introduction of e-cigarettes to North American markets in 2007, the use of e-cigarettes has increased substantially, especially among youth and young adults. While most people know that tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death in Canada, few may be aware of the potential risks associated with electronic cigarettes. There are growing concerns about their potential for nicotine addiction, possible adverse health effects, their potential to renormalize tobacco use, and other unforeseen consequences of unregulated production, sale, and use of these products.
“Although they are perceived to be less harmful than tobacco cigarettes, it is clear that e-cigarettes are not harmless products,” explains Mandy Hayre, CDHA president. “Since e-cigarettes are not regulated by all levels of government in Canada, some e-cigarette products labelled as nicotine-free have been found to contain nicotine. Other ingredients that have been found in e-cigarettes include formaldehyde, carcinogenic compounds, and vapour containing heavy metals. Moreover, the potential harm from second-hand e-cigarette vapour remains an unknown,” says Hayre.
In addition, the e-cigarette industry promotes the use of e-cigarettes as a harm-reduction strategy for tobacco users and smoking cessation aids. However, these claims have not yet been supported by sufficient and conclusive high-quality evidence. Dental hygienists have the expertise and skills to assist individuals interested in quitting conventional and electronic cigarettes by using evidence-based cessation treatments and behavioural support. Talk to your dental hygienist about these proven cessation strategies at your next dental hygiene visit. For information on the hazards of e-cigarette use, read CDHA’s position statement and fact sheet on e-Cigarettes.
Serving the profession since 1963, CDHA is the collective national voice of more than 26,800 registered dental hygienists working in Canada, directly representing 17,500 individual members including dental hygienists and students. Dental hygiene is the 6th largest registered health profession in Canada with professionals working in a variety of settings, including independent dental hygiene practice, with people of all ages, addressing issues related to oral health. For more information on oral health, visit: www.dentalhygienecanada.ca