Youth Use of Vaping Devices and Marijuana

By Mr. Stephen Anthony, Head of Senior School, and Ms. Tracey Lee, Senior School Counsellor 
The recent news story about 14-year old Kyle Losse from Delta who tragically lost his life last week has again raised the issue of vaping and e-cigarette use among young people. Like many other schools, WPGA is concerned about the growing trend among Canadian youth, including our own WPGA students, who are experimenting with vaping nicotine or marijuana, and their perception that vaping is a much safer alternative to smoking.

We know adolescence is a time marked by curiosity, experimentation and increased risk taking; however, this is an issue to be taken very seriously due to the negative health effects vaping, nicotine and marijuana can have on our children. We are, and will continue to be, speaking with our students about the concerns and dangers related to vaping and/or marijuana use. We provide this message to you, our parents, so that you may also engage with your children about this topic. See below links to reading/resources if you feel your child or their peers may be involved in this behaviour.

What is Vaping?
Vaping is the act of inhaling a vapor produced by an electronic vaporizer or e-cigarette. The liquids or “vape juices” that are vaporized come in many different flavours, such as marshmallow or bubblegum, and might smell fruity with a sweet taste. The vapor can contain nicotine and other substances such as hash or weed oil. Vaporizers/e-cigarettes often come in different shapes and sizes and can look like something else; common styles resemble a thick pen or an iPad stylus. The devices are very small and can discreetly blend in with normal backpack items.

As with cigarettes, stores cannot sell these devices to people under 18 years, yet students report that they purchase the devices online or buy from older siblings, friends or adults. Students may feel that vaping is safer than cigarettes because smoke inhalation is not a factor, but the concentration of nicotine or other substances can often be higher in these oil-based methods. Marijuana itself can have serious, negative, long-term effects on the developing adolescent brain. Constable Trevor LeTourneau, our VPD liaison officer, noted in recent presentations to our students that almost all marijuana tested by the VPD has been found to contain other harmful contaminants/toxins; reports suggest that some Vancouver-accessible cannabis could be laced with fentanyl.

Additional Discussion Resources
Our school counsellors, health education teachers, nurses and teachers will continue to address this issue at school and we extend our thanks to you for your partnership in doing the same at home.