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Horizon Physician Seeing Lung Illness in Patients Due to Vapes


Dr. Joseph Ojah, Thoracic Surgeon, Horizon's The Moncton Hospital

Vaping may be a useful tool in a harm-reduction model of smoking cessation in adults. But the serious consequences from the major uptake of vaping in previously healthy, non-smoking youth, are becoming much more broadly known in the media.

The long-term physical and structural damaging effects on fragile lung tissue are not yet fully understood since vaping is a relatively recent "trend".

Vaping includes the inhalation of aerosolized chemicals, ultra-fine particles, volatile compounds, heavy metals and other harmful materials, including highly addictive nicotine, which all have serious detrimental effects.

This has produced the alarming reports throughout the United States and Canada of increasing numbers of vape users requiring intensive care and mechanical ventilation over the past year.

As a thoracic surgeon, even I am starting to see some related lung illness (inflammation and tissue destruction) in my patients.

Sadly, vaping amongst previously healthy youth who never smoked is the most alarming trend. This segment of the population may be mislead to believe that since flavorings are excitingly and tastily named and formulated, they must not be harmful. This is not true.

And there's work that needs to be done to dispel these myths.

Government legislation is sorely needed to impose rules against advertising vape products in convenience stores, next to candy and snacks. Legislation is needed to mandate inclusion of a complete ingredient list on vaping products. Vaping companies should not be allowed to disseminate inappropriate lifestyle advertisements directed towards young teens on social media.

Many school-aged youth are not yet aware of these negative effects because the vape companies have created a technology that reduces the throat irritation associated with "classical" cigarettes. By providing vapes that taste and smell pleasant, while simultaneously rapidly delivering higher doses of brain-altering addictive nicotine, the initial deterrents have been masked.

Dr. Ojah is an attending Thoracic Surgeon at Horizon's The Moncton Hospital, specializing in advanced minimally invasive esophageal, mediastinal and pulmonary surgery. He grew up in Saint John and completed his surgical training and sub-specialty fellowships in Vancouver, British Columbia and Winnipeg, Manitoba prior to returning to his home province of New Brunswick. As an Assistant Professor of Surgery at Dalhousie University, he is actively involved in clinical research, postgraduate medical education and patient advocacy. Much of his extra-curricular time is spent with his wife, enjoying cooking, and helping his 4-year-old daughter become a super-duper "dance-skate-gymnastic-ing" ninja!

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