Deyalsingh concerned about vaping effects on children

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Minister of Health Terrence Deyalsingh – Venessa Mohammed

HEALTH Minister Terrence Deyalsingh has expressed concern about the effects of vaping on children, while speaking in the Senate on June 11.

Vaping is inhaling and exhaling vapour containing nicotine and flavouring produced by a device designed for that purpose.

Deyalsingh said, “There are many health effects that are attributable since its use. There is a growing body of scientific evidence which is beginning to elucidate the deleterious health effects of vaping, especially on our children.”

These include increased risk of developing asthma, a gateway to the increased use of cigarettes, physical injuries (burns from explosions or malfunctions of vaping devices) and the presence of nicotine in some vaping products which carries the risk of addiction to the drug.

Deyalsingh said the ministry, through the National and Drug Abuse Prevention Programme and its Tobacco Control Unit, has developed some initiatives to increase awareness and reduce the harmful risks associated with vaping amongst children and other groups.

“Since January 2023, as a preventative approach to vaping amongst children and other key population, the Ministry of Health conducted 12 health-education seminar sessions at various schools across the country and sensitised approximately 1,200 students about the health risks, danger and alternatives to e-cigarettes and vaping.”

He said the ministry continued to lead community outreach sessions about the dangers of nicotine, and through the request of partner government agencies such as the Youth Development and National Service Ministry, on March 5 gave a lecture on the dangers of e-cigarettes and vaping at the Civilian Conservation Corps in Chaguanas.

Deyalsingh added that the regional health authorities (RHAs) frequently hold sessions on e-cigarettes and vaping at the lung cancer and thoracic unit at the North Central RHA and smoking cessation clinics at the South West RHA.

“These targeted interventions and actions will be a precursor to inform the Ministry of Health’s policy position and recommendations to reduce the appeal of e-cigarettes and vapes, thereby reducing the health risks associated with vaping amongst children and other key populations.”

Deyalsingh also said the ministry is also looking at unhealthy air-quality levels due to recent reports of Sahara dust in the air.

High levels of Sahara dust, he continued, could worsen the risk of people with respiratory ailments such as asthma.

Deyalsingh said public health facilities were equipped with the necessary staffing and medical devices including nebulisers, ventilators and pulse oximeters and continue to use this CTAS (Canadian Triage and Acuity Scale) to prioritise and treat all patients with respiratory illnesses.

He added that CTAS measures different levels of air quality and this is used to determine the correct response to health conditions they cause.