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Newfoundland confirms first vaping illness

Newfoundland and Labrador’s Chief Medical Officer is confirming the province’s first vaping-associated lung illness.

According to a news release Thursday (Jan. 16), the person affected became ill in late 2019 was hospitalized and has since recovered.

The province notes that the “substance of concern” is a cannabis product, “which was not available for further testing.” While the person affected used a cannabis product, the province notes that “others affected across the country have used nicotine vaping products or flavour-only vaping products.”

No further information about the case, the individual or where they live in the province will be released, in accordance with the Personal Health Information Act.

Dr. Janice Fitzgerald, chief medical officer, said the “emergence of vaping-associated lung illness is quite concerning,” and the province will continue to monitor for cases. “To reduce your risk of this illness, we recommend that you do not vape any products,” she said. “If you vape or smoke and wish to quit, please see your health care provider for advice on safe and effective ways to do so.”

The Province of Newfoundland and Labrador banned vape products in December 2019, which followed Quebec’s decision to ban them as well. Alberta was the most recent province to confirm a vaping-associated lung illness earlier this month. Alberta also banned cannabis vape products.

Minister of Health and Community Services John Haggie said he is worried about the increase of vaping in the province, and its popularity with youth. “Vaping is a significant health concern. If you don’t already smoke, don’t vape.”

The Newfoundland and Labrador government states that, to date, there have been “16 confirmed or probable” cases of vaping-associated lung illnesses in Canada. “Vaping is not harmless,” according to the release. “ It can increase your exposure to harmful chemicals, and the long-term health effects are unknown. Vaping is not recommended for youth, pregnant women, or non-smokers.”