A group of four representatives from Health Canada will travel to 50 schools over the next three months, criss-crossing a trio of provinces to educate elementary and high school students about a topic widely viewed to be part of a disturbing trend.
“The purpose of this tour is to raise awareness of what Health Canada deems are the consequences of vaping to date,” says Mathieu Lariviere, lead spokesperson on the ‘Consider the Consequences’ tour. “The technology is fairly new so we don't have the same background of research as tobacco companies. But the epidemic is currently going cross country. And, the sad thing is a lot of the companies are targeting youth.”
Lariviere and his colleagues’ first stop on the 2020 leg of their national tour was St. Michael’s College School (SMCS).
The audience? Grade 7 and 8 students.
The focus? Raw facts.
“Vaping is not intended for non-smokers,” says Lariviere, a native of Gatineau, Quebec. “It is intended for a smoker who wants to quit the use of cigarettes. There's a lot of misconceptions still about the vapour being benign. It is not just water vapour. It is chemicals going into your system. Whether there is nicotine added or not, it's just as bad.”
“To date, vaping education has become part of the Grade 9 physical education programme, and so we wanted to be sure to find a space for our junior students to engage in a topic that is very much a part of their world,” says Liat Benzacar, M.S.W., RSW, who was involved in bringing the presentation to SMCS. “Studies have shown that young people are experimenting with vaping as early as Grade 4 and so our hope is that by sharing this with our youngest students, we are beginning a proactive, preventative process that promotes the well-being of our students.”
Lukas was among more than 100 students to attend the presentation.
“What surprised me the most was that you can also inhale metals from the vape when it is heated up,” says Lukas, who is in Grade 8. “I learned that there are even more harmful chemicals than I thought.”
The presentation included non-traditional educational tools including an intricate maze set up right on the stage in the theatre. Videos, activity sheets, and a tablet game round out some of the other resources used.
“I thought it was really interactive and a great way to learn about the consequences of vaping instead of listening to someone speak,” says Lukas.
Topics covered include the potential side-effects of vaping, namely: lung damage, impact on teen brain development, and nicotine addiction.
“Our hope is that students feel they have a better understanding of why vaping devices were created, who its intended audience is, what chemicals can be found in the products, and what the potential long-term physical impacts are,” says Benzacar. “Additionally, we want our students to know if they or someone they know is seeking support reducing frequency or quitting vaping, the school can be a first-stop to begin this process.”
For 13-year-old Lukas, the message went even further, “I already knew vaping was bad and that there are so many consequences. But I felt that the presentation was still useful because now I know even more about vaping and how it can affect your body.”
He adds, “I would tell a student my age or younger that vaping can seriously harm your body and that you should never even touch a vape.”
Learn more about Health Canada’s ‘Consider the Consequences’ vaping tour
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